Alex Rodriguez will be retiring at the end of the week. There will be no farewell tour with teams paying tribute to A-Rod with gifts like they did for Rivera, Jeter, and Ortiz. Red Sox fans at Fenway will be able to bid farewell to A-Rod one last time this week before his last game at Yankee Stadium on Friday. I wonder if they'll cheer or boo. Perhaps a mixture of both.
I don't feel bad for Alex Rodriguez. He seems like a dick. And it's tough to pity someone who has made hundreds of millions of dollars playing baseball. However, I do feel bad for his legacy. It deserves better. If you separate the unlikable man from the achievements, you'll see that they deserve more praise and appreciation than they'll receive.
Alex Rodriguez took PEDs throughout his career. Does that matter? Are we still pretending that it matters? Did it give him a competitive advantage, or just put him on the same level as everyone else? Compared to his HGH and steroid assisted peers, A-Rod hit hundreds more homeruns. Furthermore, he hit nearly 700 homers off pitchers who went to the same "pharmacy" as he did. It's not an advantage if just about everyone has it.
And if you discredit A-Rod's stats because of PED usage, you have to do the same to others who have used. That includes David Ortiz, fellow Red Sox fans. So let's just move on from the PED issue.
There were a few years when Alex Rodriguez was the best player in baseball, and it wasn't even close. He won 3 MVPs, and in 2007 he received 26 of 28 first-place votes. With the Rangers, he led the AL in homers 3 years in a row and won 2 Gold Gloves at short-stop. So he hit homeruns and was the best fielder at the toughest defensive position.
But all people could talk about was his $252 million contract. His performance was unfairly juxtaposed against the expectations of what was then a ludicrous contract. So no matter how many homeruns he hit, all people saw was the price tag.
Looking back, I can't believe how much resentment there was from fans and pundits directed toward A-Rod for being paid. Was he supposed to negotiate the contract down so he would get paid less? That would be like Emma Watson offering to sleep with me, and me responding "Nope, second base is as far as I'm willing to go. I don't want people to hate me."
A-Rod also didn't get enough credit in the Great Short-Stop Arguments from 1997 to 2003, probably due to his playing in the AL West. If you don't remember or are too young, those were the days when fans in Boston, New York, and all over the country debated who was better: Jeter or Nomar. And as two large fanbases and an East coast oriented sports media compared the two, the best short-stop in baseball (A-Rod) was being largely ignored. Nobody in the East cared about what happened with the Mariners or Rangers. The 10pm airing of Baseball Tonight started at the same time as their games, and the morning sports page was published too early for full box scores. For a few years, A-Rod was a better short-stop and player than Jeter or Nomar. But the debate was still localized to the Northeast.
You can make an argument that A-Rod is a better player than Jeter. Power is an important part of the game and Rodriguez's power numbers dwarf Jeter's. A-Rod has about 440 more homeruns than Jeter, and slugged .550 compared to Jeter's .440. A-Rod also has a slightly higher OBP (.380 vs. .377). Jeter stole only 29 more bases. A-Rod knocked in 773 more runs. So A-Rod got on base, he could run, he could field, he could hit, he could hit for power.
Of course, Jeter was clutch and A-Rod was a bit of a choker. And maybe that makes up the difference between the power hitter and the non-power hitter. My point is that A-Rod is in many ways better than one of the most cherished players in the illustrious history of the New York Yankees, and people don't even realize it.
And did you know A-Rod has 3,000 hits? I don't remember that. He's 20th all-time in hits, just behind Tony Gwynn.
He's on lists with some of the all-time best players in the sport. He's 4th in homeruns behind Bonds, Aaron, and Ruth. He's 3rd in RBI behind Ruth and Aaron, and along with Cap Anson is one of only four players with 2,000+ RBI. He's 25th in slugging .0004 ahead of David Ortiz. He's 8th in runs scored behind Mays and Pete Rose. He's 6th in total bases between Ty Cobb and Ruth.
It's mostly A-Rod's own fault that his career and legacy don't get the respect they deserve. Which is a shame because he was a great player. And while I don't care much about him, I do feel a little bad that his career won't be looked at with the respect it merits.