BY Dennis Glade Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — When Alex Rodriguez debuted with the Seattle Mariners in 1994 his career could have gone so many different directions, but 19 years later, his reputation and image has gone to a place no one could have imagined. Major League Baseball’s suspension of Rodriguez was the final nail in the coffin for a player, who many thought could have gone down as the greatest player of all time.
A-Rod had it all and gave it all away. What is left is hard to put into words. Rodriguez is easily the most hated baseball player of all time, and possibly the most hated professional athlete from any sport we have ever seen. The path he took to get here is complicated, and worst part is that Rodriguez doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. Baseball fans want one thing, and one thing only from their superstars — play the game the right way and don’t cheat.
Maybe all A-Rod ever wanted was to be rich beyond his wildest dreams, and in that respect he has succeeded. Rodriguez debuted right before the Steroid Era really exploded,and he had the chance to be the greatest baseball player of all time. Better than Ruth, Mays, Aaron, DiMaggio or Ted Williams. But instead he’ll never see his plaque inside the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Rodriguez will be remembered as the biggest cheater in baseball history.
Basically baseball fans want every player to be Derek Jeter, whether or not they want to admit that fact. That, of course, isn’t possible, but the Steroid Era irrevocaly destroyed any credibility baseball had, and the only ones that have suffered are the fans. Rodriguez and many others have used steroids to get ahead of the ‘clean’ players on their way to a big pile of money. The only thing that is certain about Rodriguez is that he will walk away from the game of baseball one day a very wealthy man. He has made over $350 million dollars playing baseball, and much of that money was earned while using performance enhancing drugs in Texas and New York.
We’ll never truly know the reasons why A-Rod felt compelled to start using when he arrived in Texas in 2001, he claims it was he was because he felt the pressure of a contract worth $250 million, but we do know that he could have been an all-time great player without the PEDs. He chose the easy route, and all he got in return was hatred from the game he supposedly loves so much. I was in attendance in Rodriguez’s season debut Monday night in Chicago, and the vitriol he received during all four at-bats was unlike anything I’d ever witnessed at a professional sporting event. Rodriguez has fallen into a category with Lance Armstrong as the most disliked athlete any of us can remember.
A-Rod constantly talks about how much he loves the game of baseball, yet he has done so much damage to the game. He likely doesn’t think he has done anything wrong, similar to Armstrong’s continued PED use on his way to seven Tour de France titles. Rodriguez is the only player of the 13 suspended as part of the Biogenesis investigation to appeal the penalty instead of just accepting the 211-game suspension levied by Bud Selig and Major League Baseball. For weeks we have heard reports that MLB has more evidence on A-Rod than on any other player, so we can all imagine how this will ultimately end for Rodriguez.
A-Rod will likely lose his appeal whenever that takes place, and if you believe the reports swirling around that may not take place until October or November, which gives him 50 games to add to his already tainted career statistics, and make a run at tying Willie Mays with 660 career home runs. The difference between Rodriguez and Armstrong at the time of their respective scandals is that there is not one person who believes in Rodriguez’s innocence. Armstrong had all the good behind the Livestrong foundation that made millions of people want to believe in the cyclists words. Rodriguez has no such support. His own team, the New York Yankees don’t even want him around.
Rodriguez is a man without a country, and we all just wish he would go away forever.