A Time to Celebrate an All Time Great

 

(Brad Penner/ USA Today Sports)

  
Alex Rodriguez is one of the most polarizing players to have ever graced the baseball diamond. He’s undoubtedly one of the greatest players of all time not only for his incredible power but also his proficiency as a shortstop and third baseman. But for all his career accomplishments, his legacy will always be marred by bad decisions he made throughout his career.

A-Rod was the first overall pick of the 1993 draft and he enthralled fans and opposing coaches alike because of his extraordinary talent and instincts when he was called up by the Mariners in 1994. He seemed like he could be a perennial 40 home run and 40 stolen base player. He had the makings of a 5 tool player that could potentially succeed “The Iron Man” Cal Ripken Jr. as the best shortstop in the league and many scouts and executives saw him carrying that crown for the rest of his playing days to the tune of a Hall of Fame career. He was predicted to be the golden boy of the league for many years and be one of the most valuable players of all time.

Fast forward 22 years to the present day as A-Rod is set to retire, and his career accolades are something to marvel at. He not only lived up to, but exceeded the hype. He has a .295 career batting average as well as 696 home runs and 2,085 RBI, the last two good for 4th and 3rd all time, respectively. Don’t forget about his 3 AL MVP awards as well as a World Series championship and 2 Gold Glove Awards. These gaudy accomplishments are straight out of a Hall of Fame voter’s dream.
You would think that these numbers warrant a season long farewell as well as an outpouring of gifts and congratulations from the other 29 clubs. After all, isn’t that what Alex’s comrade Derek Jeter received? Alex Rodriguez was undoubtedly a better player than Jeter so shouldn’t he get an even bigger farewell tour? No, all he gets is a small presser and a week to pack his things and leave. Is this how we should treat one of the greatest players to ever grace the field?

Apparently, sports fans and executives alike are very unforgiving of past transgressions. Why do people hate A-Rod so much? Every year, Rodriguez is selected as one of the most hated players in sports. He has tested positive multiple times for anabolic steroids after lying about using them. He reportedly received HGH from the Biogenesis Clinic which resulted in a 211 game suspension and legal trouble. And as icing on the cake, A-Rod has been labeled many times early in his career as a jerk by his teammates.

However, you would never guess that he was guilty of any of these things if you ever listened to him speak at a press conference. He appears an honest individual with an affable personality and a burning passion for the game of baseball. This leads me to believe, is A-Rod just a very misunderstood person who has made some mistakes in the past? After his second suspension for PED use, Alex seemed very apologetic and all he wanted was for people to forget what he had done in the past and be given a clean slate to start over and begin a new chapter of his career. But no, many fans and journalists continued their blind hatred of him despite the fact that he is trying to right some of his wrongs.

The media is one of the main reasons that Alex is so hated. They come off as very hypocritical when they condemn A-Rod for his steroid use but continue to praise players like Bartolo Colon and Nelson Cruz even though they tested positive for PEDs as well. Another player who is celebrated despite past PED allegations is David Ortiz. He reportedly tested positive in 2003 by an anonymous survey but this seems to be long forgotten by the Red Sox faithful. Big Papi is getting a Jeter-like season long farewell while Alex is being shown the door. This is not to say that Ortiz shouldn’t be celebrated in his final season. He will go down as one of the greatest designated hitters ever, but shouldn’t A-Rod be treated the same way? Alex was released by the Yankees with a week’s notice and no ceremony to commemorate the culmination of a fantastic career.
It is time to forgive and forget as we have with other players and remember Rodriguez for the legendary career that he had. He should be enshrined in Cooperstown and be someone that members of the younger generation strive to play like. Love him or hate him, Alex Rodriguez is one of the greatest baseball players of all time and he deserved a better send off then the one he was given. Hopefully, he signs with another team and gets to that incredible number of 700 home runs. Regardless, he deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame and should be remembered as one of the greatest to ever lace them up.

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