A-Rod Tarnishes His Legacy
Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 01:01
One of the more curious aspects of the current courtroom battle between Major League Baseball and Alex Rodriguez is that it is hard to pick a side to root for. There are many who will point to Rodriguez as the most disgraceful ballplayer this side of Barry Bonds, but the MLB is far from innocent. Commissioner Bud Selig and his cohorts turned a blind eye to steroids when their use brought the legendary home run race in 1998 between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, which brought back fans whom baseball had lost after a 1994 strike.
Selig’s current, feigned disdain for cheating sullies the game of baseball. That long-time steroid abuser Mark McGwire is allowed back into a baseball organization while Pete Rose remains in exile for his gambling is a prime example of the MLB’s false morality.
The MLB’s investigation into Rodriguez has been similarly self-serving. The league is staging a witch hunt against one of its most hated stars in hopes of slowing the fall of the game’s popularity. Rather than citing failed tests in the trial, the MLB has referenced stolen evidence from a shady clinic. The chief testimony against Rodriguez comes from a convict being paid for his cooperation in the case by MLB and all the while, Bud Selig refuses to testify. The sentence handed down — even in its reduced 162 game form — is completely arbitrary and inconsistent with the precedent set by MLB to deal with substance abusers.
Rodriguez lost the benefit of the doubt long ago, and it is hard to believe that, given his connection to Tony Bosch and his Biogenesis clinic, the former MVP did not take performance-enhancing drugs. But Selig has shown himself to be even more culpable in the way his league handled the case against Rodriguez. This is not about justice; this is about offering up Rodriguez on a platter as the singular scapegoat for all of baseball’s sins.
But let one thing be clear: No one is innocent here. Alex Rodriguez does not deserve even the pretense of sympathy. We have been down this scandal-laden road before with Rodriguez; he had his turn at a second chance. In 2009, when he came forward to admit to taking PEDs , Rodriguez had the unique opportunity to escape the permanent disgrace that befell widely assumed steroid users like Bonds and Roger Clemens.
Rodriguez has always displayed an abnormal obsession with his image. To see him willingly humbled at the mercy of the MLB was enough for some. His assertion that he abused PEDs only during his time with the Texas Rangers was accepted by many, especially sports fans because they wanted to believe in his greatness. Everyone wants to be able to witness a historical career, to follow it from its very beginnings to its apex, wherein an athlete does something we have never seen before.
Rodriguez’s strategic admission gave him the chance to leave a better legacy. In the 2009 postseason, he finally won the coveted championship, transforming from a great player into a clutch player in the process — all was right for Rodriguez.
Only it was not enough. It never is for Rodriguez, whose insecurity is as tragic as it is unparalleled. Rodriguez is not the stereotypical villain in the professional sports world; it is hard not to feel a pang of sympathy for his lack of self-confidence. It is this insecurity that prevents him from creating a Michael Jordan-esque legacy.
The Biogenesis scandal has not only destroyed Rodriguez’s second chance, but also the idea that he was ever clean. I firmly believe that other tactics from every “era” of baseball were tainted in one way or another, but the damage is done. Alex Rodriguez had the talent and the ability to be the greatest ever and to do it cleanly. He could have purified baseball’s record book of the dirty numbers left by Bonds, Sosa and McGwire. He was just too mentally weak to trust that he could do it.
Although today’s Rodriguez is sometimes as entertaining as an embattled anti-hero — see his towering home run in response to an intentional beaning against Boston last August — the best outcome for everyone would be for him to simply walk away. Baseball will only suffer from Rodriguez’s continued presence, and his ruthless legal campaigns will only add to his troubled legacy.
But of course, he will continue to fight, desperate not to fade into obscurity. If Rodriguez cannot have baseball’s greatest legacy, he seems determined to leave behind its darkest.
Darius Majd is a junior in the College. The Sporting Life appears Tuesdays.