The biggest storyline in baseball ended last night, as Friday marked the final Major League Baseball game for Alex Rodriguez. At this point in time, it’s easy to reflect over the amount of enmity and disgust that he’s put his family, fans and the game of baseball through. Moments that have overshadowed just how easy he made the game of baseball look throughout his 22-year career. Ever since he got called up as an 18-year old by the Seattle Mariners in 1994, Rodriguez’s limitless talent has never been questioned, however, the amount of baggage accumulated during his playing career is sadly the bigger contrivance.
As much as we are celebrating what Alex Rodriguez did on a baseball field many are also popping the champagne because that era of controversy will be out of baseball. Rodriguez got his hand caught in the cookie jar and decided to lie about his performance-enhancing drug use from 2001-2003 with the Rangers, which were three of his most productive seasons. If that wasn’t enough, he got wrapped up in the biogenesis scandal of 2013 that once again tarnished the authenticity of his illustrious career.
The annoying reality for Rodriguez is, just like Barry Bonds’ – probably two of the best hitters in major league history – that we don’t know which years were PED aided and which ones were clean, bringing shame to not only their credibility as players, but America’s pastime as well.
That being said, it’s appropriate to marvel at the numbers Rodriguez has put up, tainted or not. He is fourth all-time in home runs (696), is a three-time MVP, 14- Time All-Star and a 10-time Silver Slugger. He also helped lead the Yankees to their last World Series championship in 2009 with an all world postseason. The numbers are insane and unthinkable for any player to achieve no matter the baggage that comes with their career.
So how will we remember A-Rod? At least for now? His career and life have been like a soap opera, one that’s contained a lot of bright spots and controversy. Through all the missteps and animosity he’s faced, he kept taking every punch and criticism in stride and tried to mend the relationships that were strained during the dark points of his career.
The sickening reality is that he loves the game of baseball so much, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal put it. He wanted to be too great and that resulted in very poor choices that have tainted a legacy that was already going to be one for the ages. I’ll end with this, A-Rod is the most polarizing athlete in MLB history, love him or him, he brought something to the game of baseball that will be talked about for years.