These days, there isn’t a whole lot to respect about Alex Rodriguez. If Major League Baseball is to be believed, he not only was a customer of the now-infamous Biogenesis clinic; allegedly had members of his inner circle turned teammates and fellow players into MLB during the investigation; “frustrated” MLB’s investigation; had his doctor, who never examined him, launch a radio tour to allege the Yankees were trying to purposefully keep Rodriguez off the field; and, finally, firing shots at the Yankees, claiming he was misled about his medical status in order for Yankees to get out of the remaining contract by having Rodriguez play hurt, thereby jeopardizing his career. None of that even scratches the surface of the tabloid rumors. Having said all of that, in a weird, in explicable way- I have to give some credit to Alex Rodriguez.
It’s one thing to be booed in Boston. Really, who hasn’t played in pinstripes and been booed in Boston? The chants of “You cheated” are a bit old, Alex has heard them before. We get it, Boston vs. New York. Old news.
It’s quite another to be booed in your own building, by about 70% of the fans. To hear the people you have been playing for over the last near-decade chanting about steroids. So what does ARod do? He stands there signing autographs for fans before the game, and drives in the only run of his first game back and then says, with 1000% sincerity in front of the beat reporters that the fans and atmosphere were fantastic, and that he loves New York. That is the epitome of changing the narrative.
It’s one thing to be criticized by other players for the massive contract you have, making you the highest-paid player in professional sports. Or to be mocked by fans and radio talk show hosts for no longer being worth the amount of money you are paid. It’s definitely another to have players from around the league openly question the fairness of you playing a game under the appeals process of union to which they, too, belong. And yet, there he is, standing in the batter’s box, unflinching, knowing that every other player on the opposing team- even his self-described friends- has something bad to say about him.
It’s one thing to have rumors of an internal feud between yourself and your very high powered and wealthy boss. It is entirely another to have your lawyer and team outright call out the New York Yankees, alleging that they misled you on your medical status, effectively yelling, “BRING IT ON!” to one of the most powerful and wealthy teams in all of sports. Not only did ARod challenge the team- oh, no- but his legal team said that they will, “Put up” and all but said they’d end up victorious in that battle. That, friends, takes some pretty significant intestinal fortitude.
And yet, there is Alex Rodriguez, every day: still playing third. Still stoically ignoring the 40,000 fans booing you, accusing you of being a fraud. Reading the newspapers to hear his friends angry with the circus he is causing. Sitting in front of reporters saying that everything is fine with a smile on his face.
With your entire world falling down around you? With everyone, everything, in the sport you love- your livelihood, your passion- absolutely hating your guts and wishing you were no longer a part of it?
Could you stand up there and ignore it, plug along, make it work like you had not a care in the world? Don’t give me that talk about money, either- there is not enough money in the free world that would make me feel better to have the people that I work for hating me, calling me out in the press, having my reputation destroyed. I would fold like a tent in a hurricane. I couldn’t handle it.
So, no, Alex Rodriguez gets no respect from me. No, I don’t feel sorry for him. No, I don’t think that he is handling himself well in any way shape or form, and yes, I think that he and his team are making absolute fools of themselves.
Yes, I think that whatever modicum, scrap, or sliver of a second chance that ARod had at restoring some semblance of his legacy is now floating somewhere on the seabed of the East River. But, thinking about it objectively- and that he is still producing in spite of it!- the guy is holding it together.
By all accounts, ARod has somewhat of a fragile ego, which makes that feat even more impressive. For that, and that alone, I give him credit. Whatever the outcome, the guy deserves some credit for being able to stand out there. Whether he should or not (or I want him to be) is another question, but in the interim… I’ve gotta give him credit