Alex Rodriguez may be the most polarizing figure in baseball. He has fallen from beloved slugger, to potential first ballot Hall-of-Famer, to defamed steroid user to finally just one big locker room distraction. But after this great stumble from grace, A-Rod could potentially repair his tattered image.
Can A-Rod Repair His Image This Season
Alex was a first overall pick in the 1993 MLB draft by the Seattle Mariners out of high school. His ability to hit the ball with power, round the bases with speed and make plays out on the field made him a potential cornerstone of the franchise out west. But Rodriguez’s greed would vacate that throne for the Mariners, as A-Rod walked in free agency, signing the then richest deal in baseball history, a 10-year $252 million contract, with the Texas Rangers. Again, A-Rod would move on after not making the playoffs in the three years he spent with the Rangers, demanding a trade to the Yankees before the 2004 season. Alex played at a high level for the Yankees, leading the league in home runs and winning three American League MVP awards in his tenure. In 2007, A-Rod opted out of his 10 year contract to break the recorded for the richest deal in the MLB once again, this time re-upping with the Yankees for 10 years at $275 million. But there was a dark cloud hovering over Alex’s career during his years of dominance.
Steroids is a blemish the MLB can never escape. Unfortunately, the decades some consider the glory days for the MLB were stained with athletes injecting PEDs in order to perform at their peak. Rodriguez was no different, as he fell into this trap somewhere in his playing career from 1993 to the present. But unlike other players, who admitted to this PED use and who were accepted back to the MLB with open arms, such as former teammates Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte, A-Rod denied, denied, denied. And when the truth was revealed, A-Rod was left with no one left in his corner.
Alex Rodriguez denied every using PEDs in a 2007 interview with Katie Couric after his name was flagged in the infamous Mitchell Report. But after years of accusations, and evidence surfacing, implicating Rodriguez, he could no longer hide. In 2009, A-Rod fell from baseball royalty after he admitted he used steroids while with the Texas Rangers in both 2001 and 2003. Suddenly the 600+ home runs he hit seemed more like a damning piece of evidence than a major baseball accomplishment. But later that year, Alex played a major part in a championship run for the Yankees as he was named the postseason MVP and won his first World Series title. Most seemed to be forgiven of Rodriguez until once again allegations in the form of the Biogenesis Scandal came face to face with the slugger
ARod was accused of obtaining PEDs in 2013 from a Biogenesis Clinic run by Tony Bosch out of Miami, Florida. It was possible for ARod to walk away from the scandal with only a 50 game suspension, but Rodriguez, desperate to keep his Hall of Fame hopes alive, lied and tampered with evidence to try to fool the MLB. He was originally handed a 211 game suspension, the longest suspension ever handed out by the MLB if it had stood. Instead, Alex was able to appeal and have the suspension reduced to a full season, 162 game suspension. This suspension was served during the 2014 season, which was abysmal for the Yankees, missing the postseason for the second year in a row. So what is next?
Alex is said to be in the best shape he has been in years. He did not let his time served go to waste. And now it has been reported that Alex Rodriguez has been training with the MLB’s all-time leading home-run hitter, Barry Bonds, another player whose name has been associated with steroids over his historic career. ARod is not loved by the Yankees, he is not loved by the fans, and he is not loved by the MLB. His reputation means nothing anymore. So what can Alex do to come back from this? He needs to help the Yankees win without causing any drama or distractions. He needs to hit the ball like he did in 2005 and lead what was a slow offense last season like he did in the 2009 postseason. Most importantly he needs to play his role on the team.
It was no secret that Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez didn’t get along when they played next to each other on the Yankees. Jeter was a professional in every sense of the word and a model of how athletes should behave both on and off the field. He kept his head down, played his heart out, and always said the right thing. ARod was the opposite. We have seen him in the tabloids leaving bars late at night with different women. He wasn’t an easy teammate to get along with. And everyone knows about Rodriguez’s massive ego, characterized by his rumored painting of him as a minotaur. Although Derek Jeter is now gone and retired, now more than ever, ARod must become Derek Jeter. He must be the ultimate team player, doing whatever is best for those on the diamond. He must rarely be seen in clubs and bars, boozing during the season instead of focusing on his goals. His name should not be floating around the papers at all. Alex Rodriguez needs to become a baseball player first if he ever hopes at recovering his image
ARod will not be playing in the field this season, as the Yankees made a four year, $52 million investment in Chase Headley this offseason to play third base. Alex must be ok with being a DH if thats where the team needs him or being a bench player, ready to pinch hit if that is where the team needs him. He has lost the privilege to expect playing time and only performance on the field will give ARod some credibility back in the eyes of Yankee management. I think this is doable for the former offensive stud. If his work to get in shape of the field is a testament to how he will approach the season, Alex Rodriguez could add some offensive firepower to the Yankee lineup. And as 2009 has shown Alex and as sports proves time and time again, winning is the ultimate bandaid for a disgraced athlete. Let’s see what he is capable of.