A-Rod uncertain about future with Yanks
In late March, it was reported that Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez had decided to retire at the culmination of his contract at the end of the 2017 season. While that report proved to be false and was later taken down, it raises questions as to if and where Rodriguez will play beyond the 2017 season. The Yankees are a near lock not to retain his services, as they have prospects that need a spot in the lineup, and they do not appear to be interested in retaining the services of another well-past-his-prime slugger. So, will Rodriguez play anywhere in 2018? Although he does sit in fourth place on the all-time career home run list, does anyone care anymore? His use of steroids has been well-documented, and his Hall of Fame chances have all but evaporated. Is it worth it for any team to sign Rodriguez, and take on the baggage he carries? We will see.
When all is said and done, Rodriguez leaving the Yankees will be looked at positively by the team. When his contract expires, it will finally allow them to bring up heralded prospects Judge and Bird , and not have them blocked by high-paid aging superstars. With Rodriguez essentially limited to the designated hitter role, those two prospects, as well as others, will be able to find a spot in the lineup. It will also give manager Joe Girardi a sense of relief that he has not yet felt as the Yankees’ skipper. Throughout his time at the helm, Girardi has had to answer tireless questions about Rodriguez. Whether it was answering questions about A-Rod’s long-wavering health or having to field questions about Rodriguez’s use of performance-enhancing drugs, Girardi has faced difficult questions most managers should not have to worry about. As it pertains to the Yankees, A-Rod’s announcement of his impending retirement should come as much-needed relief.
As pertaining to baseball, however, this announcement opens up a Pandora’s box of questions about Rodriguez. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that A-Rod is one of the most talented players to ever wear a big league uniform. After breaking into the Seattle Mariners’ lineup as a teenager, Rodriguez took the league by storm. Defying the conventional idea that a shortstop should be a defense-first position, Rodriguez has emerged as the greatest power-hitting infielder of all time. After hitting an astounding 36 home runs as a 20-year-old, A-Rod has continued his power-hitting prowess for over two decades. He has topped 45 home runs five times in his career and topped out at 57 home runs in his 2002 season with the Texas Rangers. Following the 2003 season, Rodriguez was traded to the New York Yankees, which only furthered his rock star status. In 2009, he won the World Series as a key member of the Yankees. He owns 687 career home runs, putting him fourth on the all-time list behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. Unfortunately, however, there is more to him than his on-the-field accolades, which has put his legacy as an all-time great at risk.
It has come to light in recent years that A-Rod has used PEDs. The details just got uglier as more information was released. After denying using steroids while a member of the Texas Rangers, Rodriguez finally admitted that he had used them from 2001 to 2003, in an interview with ESPN. According to Rodriguez, “Back then baseball was a different culture… It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive. And I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time. I did take a banned substance. And for that I am very sorry and deeply regretful.”
While this apology appeared heartfelt, it would turn out to be an empty one.
In 2013, while recovering from hip surgery, reports surfaced about Rodriguez’s involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Anthony Bosch ran the Biogenesis Clinic of America, which ran under the cover of it being an anti-aging clinic. Thirteen players were suspended as a result of their involvement in the scandal, but Rodriguez received the harshest punishment, ultimately missing the entire 2014 season.
While Rodriguez has not had any further transgressions since his suspension, his involvement with PEDs has done a great deal to tarnish his legacy. While he was once looked up to as baseball’s golden boy, his relationship with baseball has become strained to say the least. He has been viewed as a distraction at times to the Yankees, and the majority of the Yankee fan base is eager to see him leave. It is a sad tale of a hero turned martyr. Many contemporaries grew up watching A-Rod blow the competition away and completely redefy the shortstop position. Once a surefire first ballot Hall of Famer, it is all but certain that he will not receive a plaque in Cooperstown. The harm he has done to his legacy has been self-inflicted and has embarrassed the sport. However, his pure talent and incredible power will never be forgotten. When Rodriguez retires, baseball will lose one of the most polarizing figures in sports history.