J.R. Moehringer obliterated everything I thought I knew about Alex Rodriguez. He humanized a slugger who used steroids and tried to take down the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball just to lessen his suspension.
“The Education of Alex Rodriguez” chronicles A-Rod’s time away from baseball while serving a 162-game suspension, the longest ever for performance enhancing drugs. Moehringer recently discussed his article on “SportsCenter” with Hannah Storm and said he spent six months “on and off” with Rodriguez.
In his article, Moehringer doesn’t quote Rodriguez directly, but opts instead to use his own editorial voice. I never pictured Rodriguez speaking or trying to explain himself, which was actually a good look for him, because that usually doesn’t end well. Even in his photos, the ones in which he’s not wearing a baseball uniform, his mouth is closed.
The two main disappointments in Rodriguez’s life were growing up since the age of 10 without a father and not attending college. These have driven him in life and he’s now trying to deal with those insecurities head on. And no, Moehringer is not trying to make you feel sorry for the guy still due $61 million, he’s telling you a story.
“He’s not telling these stories about not having a father as a way of excusing what he did,” he told Storm, “ I’m using them as a way of explaining what this trainwreck that his life has become.”
Moehringer used these two themes to draw parallels in Rodriguez’s life between the maligned ballplayer and the dad raising two young girls. The guy who trusted the wrong people, gave into certain pressures and tried to punch his way off the ropes is now looking his ugly transgressions right in the face.
“He led me to believe that he was going to tell me quite a lot,” Moehringer told Storm. “It was a dance that we did.”
For a moment, strip away the suspension, the lying and the whole PED saga for Rodriguez. What we’d be left with would perhaps be the Michael Jordan of baseball. Like Jordan, Rodriguez obsesses over his insecurities and past failures, using them to fuel his competitive spirit. That’s always what is said about the all-time greats, that they honed life’s greatest disappointments into something spectacular.
But Rodriguez broke the rules, repeatedly, and tried to cover up those wrongdoings with defamatory accusations in lawsuits that he later dropped anyway.
For that reason, my opinion on Rodriguez, the baseball player, didn’t change. He has every right to play if he wants to and is able to, but I still think he could save himself a lot of grief and physical pain by just retiring. Moehringer even breached the thought, but noted it wouldn’t be in him to quit when he believes he can still play.
That’s also said about some of our most revered sports icons. The guy who held on a little too long, as he’s known. But what I really took away was some depth to my perspective. Rodriguez is not just a disgraced pro athlete, he’s a disgraced pro athlete doing everything he can to make things right. He may no longer be a joy to watch play, he may have lost the respect of his peers and those who observe him from afar, but he’s just a man. He’s a man who’s trying to give his children emotionally more than he ever got from his father.
Rodriguez called off the article at one point, the reporter revealed, but decided to proceed letting Moehringer into his world. Still, Rodriguez was never able to divulge everything, and for a variety of valid reasons.
Moehringer told Storm he believes Rodriguez will reveal all, eventually. If that does happen, I can only hope he tabs J.R. Moehringer for the job.