It appears that Friday will mark the end of Alex Rodriguez’s long, storied and controversial career. I’m hard pressed to think of an athlete in a major sport play at the level he did for as long as he did who was as universally disliked (Barry Bonds was widely reviled, but his hometown fans, at least, loved him. Alex failed even to engender much affection from the fans of the team for which he’s played these past 13 seasons).
Who knows what’s really going on inside the head of our public figures? Much as we pretend otherwise, we don’t really *know* them, though it’s essential to their fame and our escapism that we maintain the illusion that we do. But to whatever extent one can glean anything useful from someone’s public words and demeanor, Rodriguez seems more at peace with himself than he has in the past. Other than appropriate scrutiny and condemnation of his apparent practices as a slumlord, forgive me for not getting overly excited about his other character flaws.
When asked to characterize Alex’s legacy yesterday, Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman took his 2009 World Series ring off his finger, placed it on the podium in front of him and said that ring isn’t forged but for Arod (who had a dominant 2009 postseason). Obviously, there’s more to it than that. Rodriguez is an all-time great who, despite his reputation and everything else, sacrificed an opportunity to be a historically unparalleled player when he agreed to move from shortstop to third base upon his arrival in New York in 2004. But many fans and writers regard his entire career as fraudulent and therefore worthy of nothing but scorn and condemnation. As with Bonds, I have little doubt that Rodriguez was an all-time great player with or without illicit drug use. But no one can say where the players’ own god-given exploits end and the other stuff begins (I’m accepting, for the purposes of this conversation, the drawing of a series of lines that are quite sketchy).
If I were at the Stadium Friday night, would I stand and clap? Out of social inertia, if nothing else, I probably would. Would I feel any real enthusiasm while doing so? Doubtful.
I’ve written about Rodriguez a number of times over the years, mostly focused on the controversies surrounding his use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Here’s a sampling.