Red Sox fans hated Alex Rodriguez even before he admitted to using steroids.
It all started with the Jason Varitek and A-Rod brawl in 2004. On July 24, 2004, Bronson Arroyo threw an inside pitch that hit A-Rod on the elbow. A-Rod started complaining to Arroyo as he slowly walked to first base.Varitek, protecting his pitcher, stepped in front of Rodriguez and chaos ensued. Tek’s glove went to the face of Rodriguez and the fight began.
Red Sox fans’ opinion of Rodriguez was forever changed. The annoyance and anger among Sox fans with A-Rod continued in the ALCS that same year. During game 6 of the ALCS, A-Rod squibbed a soft grounder to the first base side. However, as he ran down the line, Rodriguez smacked the ball out of Arroyo’s glove.
After reviewing the call, the umpires called interference on Rodriguez. It was such an odd play. But even more than that, it was such a bush-league, cheating type of play.
Who does that?
A-Rod’s image with Red Sox Nation and the rest of the baseball world only diminished as he finished out his career with the Yankees. In 2009, A-Rod admitted — after first denying — that he had taken performance enhancing drugs during his time with the Texas Rangers from 2001 to 2003. When he was implicated in the Biogenesis scandal in 2013, A-Rod initially lied to the public again.
“I have been clear that I did not use performance-enhancing substances … and in order to prove it, I will take this fight to federal court,” Rodriguez confidently stated according to the Miami Herald in 2014.
However, to avoid prosecution, just three weeks later, Rodriguez admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. A-Rod was ultimately suspended for 162 games, missing the entire 2014 season.
After the suspension, Rodriguez was not the same player. Even Yankee fans, who were never exactly warm to A-Rod due to his perceived failings in clutch postseason situations, grew to dislike him even more. In 2015, A-Rod hit .250 with 33 home runs. In 2016, his last season of his career, he hit only .200 with nine home runs.
What a sad and pathetic way for a career to end.
As much as A-Rod was a cheater who was unbearably annoying, how his career ended was a sad sight to watch. At his peak, he was a young, athletic shortstop with an enormous amount of power. He was the game’s highest-paid player and he was very popular among baseball fans.
But as he got older, his image changed. Fans and media members no longer thought of him as the face of baseball but as a cheater.
At least they did.
However, ever since Alex Rodriguez retired and joined the booth on TBS as a baseball analyst, his image has changed a considerable amount. As an analyst, he is actually smart, articulate and quite likable. Not only does he provide great analysis and have great banter with fellow analyst David Ortiz, but he also seems like a person who has learned from his mistakes, regrets them, and is trying to mature and move on from them.
CBS Miami shared A-Rod’s conversation with a group of University of Miami students this year. During the conversation, Rodriguez gave a real, honest, and respectable response to his behavior as a player.
“I was just a really big jerk,” Rodriguez bluntly stated. “I made mistakes and then I doubled down and became a bigger jerk and then went on sports radio and made an ass of myself. I’ve had some big hiccups along the way and I think that’s created a big platform for me to come back into the community. Hopefully I can share stories of mistakes that I’ve made that hopefully the next generation doesn’t make.”
A-Rod has, amazingly, recognized his prior negative behavior and is trying to be a better person because of it. You have to respect those comments. Even if you are an A-Rod hater, it takes a big person to look at one’s own past behavior and admit that you have made a mistake.
It takes guts.
In addition to talking about his regrets, A-Rod is making a positive influence in the world. A month ago, A-Rod and his girlfriend, Jennifer Lopez, were outstanding in their efforts to help with the Puerto Rico hurricane disaster relief. According to USA Today, Rodriguez, J-Lo, and others organized an event that raised over $30 million to organizations to help with hurricane relief. The event was called One Voice: Somos Live! A Concert for Disaster Relief, and it featured performances by Maroon 5, Demi Lovato, and others.
In addition, according to E! News, even before the event, Rodriguez and J-Lo helped raised $26 million for Puerto Rico hurricane relief. Most recently, Rodriguez and J-Lo even visited Puerto Rico to connect with different people on the island.
This does not look the like the old, selfish Alex Rodriguez.
A-Rod’s baseball career can be defined as an extremely talented player who ultimately made poor decisions. But it looks like Rodriguez’s post-baseball career is off to a great start.