It’s no secret that a lot of people are upset with Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, but the truth is that he’s not going away any time soon…
Written by Jake Elman
The prodigal son has returned, but things are still the same in Yankees camp. Then again, did you really expect anything else?
As I pointed out in my ten storylines from spring training piece, the return of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez from a suspension that cost him all of last year was something that all baseball fans should definitely be keeping an eye on; it’s something that you should try to ignore, but it’s something that you can’t, just because of how interesting it is. How would Rodriguez adjust to seeing big league pitching again? Is he going to have a starting job this year? Will the Yankees consider cutting him loose, even with all of the money that he’s still owed?
Well, those questions and more have begun to be answered, as Rodriguez made his spring training debut in a 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. Batting second and starting at the DH position, Rodriguez went 1-2, his lone hit being a single, and the three-time American League MVP also walked before being pinch run for in the fifth inning. All things considered, Rodriguez’s spring training debut was a success, and it’s the first step in his journey back to the Major Leagues.
Yet, some people aren’t in the mood to act optimistic, or even try to pretend like Rodriguez is any other player. Take the New York Post, for example:
Man, that’s rough. That’s some real hometown support from the New York Post, but I get it. Rodriguez has cheated, he’s become one of the most tainted players — if not the most tainted player in history — and helped the steroid era go on for far longer than it should have.
Rodriguez may have brought home a World Series title in 2009, but what about all of the times he couldn’t hit anything in the postseason? There’s a lot of words that can describe Alex Rodriguez, and after all he’s done over all these years, I think all of those words would be fair to describe him. At the same time, though, I think that it may be time to start forgiving Rodriguez and moving on from the past.
That may sound contradictory, but look at where we are in Rodriguez’s career. The man turns 40 in July, and might not even play after this year. Rodriguez has done a lot of bad in his career, yes, but I think at some point, you need to just let it all go, especially if A-Rod is actually clean this year. Is it good for yourself to harbor feelings of hatred towards someone, or something, that likely isn’t going away anytime soon.
I don’t want this to seem like a full, blind, defense of Alex Rodriguez, but I don’t see why it’s worth it for all of the drama at this point to keep going. Rodriguez has apologized, he has no playing time fully guaranteed, and he’s trying to come back from a suspension that can be viewed as excessive. Even Yankees manager Joe Girardi, one of Rodriguez’s biggest supporters over the years, said recently that Rodriguez has to earn his spot like any other player. It’s not like Rodriguez came to camp and immediately started talking big; this is someone who, from what I’ve seen so far, just wants to focus on the game of baseball.
Did Alex Rodriguez make mistakes? Yes, of course, but we all have made mistakes. Delia Enriquez of Bronx Baseball Daily seems to understand this, as she said last month, “After Rodriguez apologized, immediately there were mixed reactions. Some were willing to forgive Rodriguez right away. Some weren’t as willing considering this was the second (known to the public) offense. Some were indifferent, simply believing it was a PR stunt and some felt Rodriguez should save the apologies altogether. I’m quite the forgiving person, so I forgave A-Rod–but it doesn’t mean I’m ever going to forget or be okay with what he did.”
Enriquez would then add, “The fact is we’re all human. We’re bound to make a huge error in judgement at least once in our lifetime. The steroid scandal just happened to be Rodriguez’s error in judgement.”
It’s not even about forgiving, it’s more about letting it go; there’s a difference, and a big one at that. We’re not talking about a player who beat his girlfrend inside of an elevator, physically hurt his kid, sexually abused anyone, murdered someone…this is a player who made several mistakes relating to his own body, so the people putting him in the same class as Ray Rice or Aaron Hernandez are being silly. Rodriguez messed up big time, but is he really as bad as a murderer or a woman abuser?
Nothing is going to change the past: Alex Rodriguez cheated, he used performance-enhancing drugs, and he’s one of the most tainted players of all time. We can’t change that, he can’t change that, and the history books can’t change that, even if Major League Baseball were to wipe away all of his numbers. If you’re a fan of the game of baseball and you’re truly offended by what Alex Rodriguez did, then that’s fine, no one’s asking you to go online and buy an Alex Rodriguez t-shirt and signed picture. If you’re a fan and you want to boo him like you would any other player on the Yankees, that’s fine too.
All I’m asking for fans to do is think of Alex Rodriguez, right now, as just a baseball player, not a baseball player with a troubled past involving performance-enhancing drugs. That may be too much to ask for, and as someone who has begun to forgive Alex Rodriguez, it may sound like I’m preaching nonsense, but what’s the point in hating and wishing bad on someone when that person is ready to just focus on the task at hand? If Alex Rodriguez can focus solely on baseball, then I don’t see why us as fans can’t either. It may sound difficult, but how much longer is Rodriguez really going to be in the big leagues for?
This falls on the media too, especially the ones taking time out of their day to criticize Rodriguez for every single thing that he does. Alex Rodriguez came early to camp, probably as a way of telling the Yankees that he was serious about making things right and having a good season, and the Daily News’ Mike Lupica writes a scorching hot take about how Rodriguez is wrong and really hasn’t learned anything.
There are so many more interesting stories in baseball this year, and we want to focus all of it on A-Rod? You know what, maybe it’s not just Alex Rodriguez that needs to learn something. All of us need to learn something, and that’s learning to focus on the game of baseball. I don’t know about you guys, but I’d like to just move on from the Alex Rodriguez drama and think about more interesting things, like stirrup socks, throwback uniforms, and seeing if anyone can top Cito Culver’s play from yesterday.
Will you be able to move past the Alex Rodriguez drama this year? Make sure to chime in on the conversation by voting on the poll below, and you can also tweet me your thoughts at @JakeElman