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How will A-Rod be remembered?

By: Corey Parkinson

Alex Rodriguez waved goodbye on Friday, but now the question is how will he be remembered?

Alex Rodriguez waved goodbye on Friday, but now the question is how will he be remembered?

Whether he ends up back with another team in the future is another story all together, but Friday night’s game was indeed Alex Rodriguez’ final game at least as a New York Yankee. The slugger called it a career with an announced retirement before his publicized release and shot down reports that he could be going to the Miami Marlins as soon as they started coming up. If indeed he is done forever, it just seems weird to be a post A-Rod era of baseball. Rodriguez was the most polarizing player in the league, arguably one of the most polarizing figures in the history of sports. His career can only be summarized as a roller coaster, with MVPs, plenty of home runs, but disappointing postseason performances and the PED shadow over his career.

Drafted No. 1 overall in 1993 by the Seattle Mariners, Rodriguez was dubbed the future of the game because of his athleticism and power. He lived up to it for sure, finishing with three AL MVP awards, 14 All-Star appearances, 10 Silver Slugger Awards and a career .295 batting averaged with 696 home runs and 3,115 hits. In Seattle, surrounded by a powerhouse lineup that also featured the likes of Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez and Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., he still managed to be one of the most feared hitters in the game, and solidified himself as one of the best shortstops in the game, up there with the likes of Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken Jr. at the time as the elite group.

In 2001, Rodriguez would cash in on his ability with a record 10-year, $252 million deal to go to the Texas Rangers, a contract that was easily the largest in the league at the time and one that is still looked at as a huge contract today, 15 years later. But unlike some players who settle down after getting their huge contracts, Rodriguez would continue to become a force to be reckoned with. His numbers would continue to grow. Offensively he was believed to be capable of one day destroying Hank Aaron’s old home run record and defensively he was proving himself as one of the best in the game because of his athleticism and fast hand to glove release and long range that made hits up the middle of the infield sure outs.

Eventually, though, Texas quickly learned that they were not a franchise capable of building a team when they had so much money tied up into one player and in the winter of 2004 he was traded to the New York Yankees, despite almost certainly being ready to become part of the Boston Red Sox. In the Bronx, he was in a huge market and on a winning team so everybody could see just how great he was. And again, he was great; crushing balls out of the park, driving in runs and successfully leading the Yankees to a lot of regular season wins.

Emphasis on regular season wins.

The Yankees won the division and topped 100 games in 2004 and had two more division crowns with over 90 victories the next two years, but A-Rod was not performing in the postseason. Then the unthinkable happened; the Yankees missed the playoffs in 2008. It was no fault of A-Rod’s who was coming off two MVP seasons in three years before then and still had a remarkable year, but the big contract and the big power leading to World Series championships.

At least not until 2009, when Rodriguez finally had a postseason for the ages, hitting .455 and putting his team wearing pinstripes on his back and leading the franchise to their 27 World Championship.

But after that, things started to head south. A-Rod was still productive, but his career was being called into question as reports of a failed drug test from his time in Texas surfaced, and while he owned up to it and admitted that he used an illegal performance enhancing drug, that was a big knock on his career that he never shook off.

For the next half decade he was constantly being scrutinized and labeled as a cheater and there have been questions over the legitimacy of his numbers and whether he should ever even be considered for the Hall of Fame. It certainly did not help his case that he saw a severe decline in power numbers after the PED report, which further suggested that he was using them his entire career and not just for the brief period he admitted to, even when age was probably a bigger factor in the decline than anything.

In 2014, Rodriguez would face another PED controversy and received a full-season suspension. That was when most fans washed their hands of A-Rod. He was a cheater and a disgrace to the game in many people’s eyes and when he stormed back in 2015 with 33 homeruns and 86 RBIs, it wasn’t looked at as a tremendous comeback, just likely a year aided by more PEDs.

Now here we are.

A-Rod didn’t play all that much in 2016 and the Yankees wanted to open up room to allow younger guys to play. He wasn’t in their future and a guy the Yankees really just wanted to move on from, so he was released but because he was still owed $20 million next year, the Yankees gave him an adviser’s role; what ever that job title might mean.

But the question remains: how will Alex Rodriguez be remembered? Will he be remembered as a PED user and a cheater? Perhaps as an ego-maniacal jerk who had some bad run-ins with the media that always seemed to be at his throat? Of will he be remembered as one of the most dynamic players in the history of baseball; someone’s who commanded your attention and was a must-see performer at the plate. The numbers do not lie: 696 home runs, 3,115 hits, 2,086 RBIs and a career .295 batting average in an era where most top players are presumed to be using some sort of PED anyway.

It’s only after a player is gone that we can truly recognized what type of accomplishments they had. Without A-Rod, Major League Baseball would certainly be a much different place than it is today. Whether for good or for bad, Rodriguez completely changed how we look at the sport and what we want in our athletes and for that, he is a legend.

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Corey Parkinson

Staff Writer
Corey grew up a sports fanatic and an athlete. A baseball player up until he was 18, his passion and love for the game has remained unchanged. From the time he was five if it involved a ball that you threw or kicked, Corey was all in. His passion for journalism began at the age of 10 when he wrote a play about a World Series involving the Seattle Mariners and The New York Mets. As a Sports Media and Marketing major currently at Full Sail University, Corey is working his way to becoming an MLB beat writer. Writing for SoMuchSports.com has given him the platform to share his knowledge and passion for sports and primarily his undying love for baseball.

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