In the June 1993 Major League Baseball Draft, the Seattle Mariners had the #1 pick and took a skinny high school shortstop out of the Miami area. Alex Rodriguez was widely considered the consensus top pick and it was no surprise at all. Rodriguez was a five tool talent and had a great work ethic.
The Mariners were a team on the rise, and this first overall selection would help guide the team to their first franchise playoff appearance. Teamed with Ken Griffey Jr. the Mariners franchise suddenly came into relevancy. That is the type of player Rodriguez is. He had the ability to put a team on his back and carry it to the promised land. The Mariners made three of their four franchise playoff appearances with Rodriguez on the roster.
The 2015 season was supposed to be a horrible year for the 39-year-old slugger. After missing the entire 2014 season with a PED suspension, Rodriguez was blacklisted by most of the baseball community. He was widely considered damaged goods. More for his lack of apologies than anything else. Rodriguez obviously used PEDs, but still to this day he really hasn’t owned up to the abuse.
The era in which Rodriguez played was riddled by drug use. There are numerous players who have copped to abusing the enhancement drugs. Most used them willingly while others trusted their trainers and health advisers. The game of baseball is not above these travesties. As in life, there are negative things that are a part of baseball. Players must be accountable for their actions and admit when and if they fail. Just like when you are on the field and make an error, you have to shake it off and get back up.
Alex Rodriguez did that. His 2015 season was an astounding success. Rodriguez has played in 148 games and had a batting line of .252/.357/.491. He has smacked 33 home runs while driving in 86 runs and scoring 83 times in 515 at-bats. Impressive numbers even though Rodriguez has been in a slump for the past two months. He hit only .153 in August and is hitting .233 in September/October. Age has probably caught up to the slugger a bit, but you can be sure he will be ready once the Yankees playoff march starts.
Alex Rodriguez has taken a huge beating in the media. He has been labeled a cheater and a liar. The Yankees at one point attempted to void his contract. His back was entirely against the wall. It would have been very easy for the man to just walk away from the game and go hide. He has earned enough money in his career. He didn’t need to play the game for monetary value. Rodriguez came back with a vengeance to show that his legacy was not tainted. All his career achievements were him and not the drugs. His season proves that fact.
Sadly, Rodriguez will always be labeled a cheater. He did take performance enhancing drugs and that he cannot deny. The effect of the drugs and how much they helped him as a player is up for much debate. Most uneducated people assume a minor league player can take PEDs and turn himself into a Major League All-Star overnight. That is not quite how the drugs work. They do in fact help players develop more carry and drive on their batted balls. The drugs help players return to form after injury by building muscle in areas that were previously too injured to be used or worked out. While on steroids you can work out for hours a day, seemingly never tiring.
Rodriguez reportedly used the drugs to recover faster from a 2011 torn knee ligament. Automatically people assume that his whole career was tainted in drug abuse. It’s a sad thing. That is why using the drug is so bad. Even if you use it only once, the majority of the masses will make assumptions. The use of steroids and other PEDs are bad for the game of baseball. They teach kids that cheating and taking the easy way out is the answer. In order to be a professional baseball player, you need to have a terrific work ethic and kids shouldn’t be shown an easy way out.
With all that being said. My reaction to steroid talk among baseball players is you still have to make contact. The casual fan assumes you just pop a couple of pills and anyone will start smashing home runs. That could not be farther from the truth. The use of these products will make you stronger and the ball will carry further off your bat, but it does not improve technique or hand-eye coordination.
Alex Rodriguez with his 687 career home runs is a first ballot Hall of Famer. The 14-time All-Star and three-time AL MVP was one of the best in the game during his era. Yes, the man took performance enhancing drugs at one point in his career, but you cannot deny the talent and work ethic he has displayed. When Rodriguez retires there will be a huge debate on if he should be elected to the Hall of Fame. Of course, he probably will not be elected. Media members are quick to pass judgement on players perceived to have cheated, but move at a snail’s pace when it comes time to forgive.
This season could make a difference to some critics. If at nearly 40 years of age, Rodriguez can still his 33 home runs completely clean, then why should we question his previous numbers? He is drug free and performing, so obviously the PEDs did not make Rodriguez who he is. The PED witch hunt will always be at hand. In reality there is no way to judge exactly how much PED’s increased players stats. Rodriguez is making a point some have made all along. The drugs are helpful to players and they do become stronger, but it doesn’t turn average ball players into Hall-Of-Famers. To make that judgement would be idiotic.
Alex Rodriguez is having a terrific season and it is topping a very respectful career. Instead of celebrating his numbers and achievements we are all turning the cheek and pretending like it isn’t happening. Rodriguez made his bed, so one cannot feel too sorry for him. He made bad choices and followed them up with more bad choices. Alex Rodriguez believed he was too big for the game, and like every star before him he was humbled by America’s Pastime.