Thoughts on Alex Rodriguez

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Alex Rodriguez recently made headlines when he announced he would be retiring following the conclusion of the 2017 season. This got two of LWOS’s resident Yankee fans trading emails on A-Rod and what he means for the sport.

Mike Salvatore:

So Alex Rodriguez finally let the world know when he would be hanging up his spikes and, in typical A-Rod fashion, he gave us a two-year notice. So I guess the first place we should start is how do we think he’ll be treated during his retirement tour in 2017?

For me, I think few teams (maybe Seattle and Texas) will do anything to “honor” Rodriguez during his final season; however, I do think the Yankees will give him a decent sendoff.

That in itself would be a huge win for A-Rod, who seemed like he was heading towards an ugly divorce with the Yankees back in 2014. How do you think he’ll be treated, Landon?

Landon Cozart:

If A-Rod keep his nose clean, and is a good team player this year, more teams will honor him on the retirement tour. He gained a lot of good faith back last year, and a got a lot of good publicity.

The Yankees will do something big for him because they are the Yankees, and they love the publicity of a good ceremony. I don’t think the Rangers will do anything, though. There is a lot of bad blood there. Living in Dallas, I see it all the time.

I think we will get a tip of the hand with retirement ceremonies this year with Big Papi, an admitted steroid user, who denied before finally admitting he took them. Let me ask you this: do you think the contract that A-Rod got from the Rangers led to him being hated by most baseball fans, or was it more the steroid factor?

Mike:

Honestly, I think it was a little of both. He made a lot of demands even before he eventually signed with the Rangers (there was a rumor he wanted a private jet if he signed with the Mets), but the steroids are a huge factor as well. It wasn’t that he got caught using them, it’s that he lied about it several times and kept telling people he was clean.

Rodriguez was supposed to be the Chosen One, and he broke a lot of hearts with his steroid use. I do think he has a chance to be a bit of a redemption story, though. For a guy that was so reliant on PEDs, you could paint a picture of him being a sort of addict. That he was able to play at such a high level last year with so much scrutiny around him could only help his image.

I don’t think he can keep up the production for two more years, but if he stays clean and continues to be a good clubhouse guy, most fans may be willing to eventually forgive (not forget). What do you think about it? What do you think A-Rod will do once he retires?

Landon:

I wouldn’t call A-Rod an addict. I think he just liked the spotlight, and being baseball’s first $200 million and $300 million man put him under a lot of pressure. The thing is, people will forgive him. Will he be in the Hall of Fame? No, but he will probably get a coaching gig when he is done.

One of his better qualities is his ability to work with young players, and I don’t think steroids will factor into that in the long run. You have to remember that he was a great hitter before all the home runs, so I think he could land a hitting coach job.

Mike:

The Hall of Fame is interesting. Ultimately, I probably agree with you and don’t think he’ll get in. However, he’ll have a better chance than other players as we get further and further away from the steroid era. Maybe addict was a strong word, but I can’t disagree that he loves the spotlight.

A-Rod is definitely a student of the game. Say what you want about the guy, but he loves baseball. As much as I think he would thrive as a hitting coach while imparting wisdom on younger players, I get the feeling Alex will find his way to the booth as an analyst. He came across very well when he served as a guest analyst during the playoffs last year, and I think he would like to continue to be on TV.

Since we’re both Yankee fans, I have to ask, what is your favorite A-Rod moment? For my money, it has to be the home run he hit against the Twins back in the 2009 ALDS. It got the monkey off his back big time, and helped propel the Yankees during their march to their most recent title.

Landon:

Oddly enough, my moment isn’t a milestone or anything having to do with the playoffs. On April 7, 2007, I was in the car with one of my best friends, who was a Manny Ramirez and Red Sox fan. We were actually going to watch the Red Sox play the Rangers.

On the way I had the Yankees on my XM, and we were arguing about A-Rod being better than Manny. That day, A-Rod hit two home runs, and collected six RBI. Manny got a hit. I guess you could say A-Rod validated my argument.

Do you think any teams will retire his number?

Mike:

For the same reason I don’t think he makes in into the Hall of Fame, I don’t think any of the teams he played for would retire his number. He didn’t play in Seattle long enough to be considered for such an honor and, to your point, there is some serious bad blood down in Texas still.

The Yankees could be the one wild card in all of this, I mean, they do love ceremonies and retiring numbers, but I ultimately think they pass on it too. Do you see any teams retiring his number? What do you think A-Rod’s legacy will end up being?

Landon:

I don’t think they will. If any team does, it will be the Mariners because, let’s face it, they don’t have a lot to celebrate. When I think about A-Rod’s legacy, all I have to do is look at the legacies of McGwire and Bonds.

Think about it; one is a bench coach and the other is a hitting coach in the big leagues, and have you heard anything about their steroid past? No, because people care less and less as more time passes. Fans are putting the past in the past.

A-Rod got a lot more cheers, and a lot less boos, the longer the season went on last year. I think, if he keeps it up, people will remember him more for some of his stupid comments he made in the media at times and his overall playing ability.

This is a player who became one of the few in MLB history to successfully made the switch from shortstop to third base. Granted, it took him a couple of years to get the hang of it, but he is an eight-time All Star at third base, and that is after he spent most of his youth, and the beginning of his career, at shortstop, where he was a four-time All Star.

Steroids aside, he was a natural, and I feel like he still is. Any tainting of his legacy was brought on by himself. Do you think he was more comfortable without Jeter around last year?

Mike:

That’s fair, and I tend to agree with you that people forgive and forget much more easily now. Good point about Bonds and McGwire being able to find jobs in MLB, and I think as long as A-Rod can stay out of trouble these next two years, he won’t be the pariah that some people would have you believe he is.

His ability to seamlessly move from shortstop to third base gets lost on so many people. It’s not easy to change positions like that, let alone play at an All-Star level. He was absolutely a natural, and a once-a-generation type of player. It’s just unfortunate he chose to use PEDs and couldn’t be the hero we all wanted him to be.

I absolutely think not having Jeter around last year was the best thing that could have happened to him. I mean, could you imagine if last year was Jeter’s last season? The comparisons would have been non-stop, and the team would have constantly been under the microscope. Instead, he survived the initial media frenzy in Spring Training and had a productive and uncontroversial season.

I’m going to break the 4th wall here, and in the interest of our readers and our editors, we should probably wrap this puppy up. What are your final thoughts on A-Rod?

Landon:

Being a Yankees fan, I will end with this. He is a teammate, and I will support him until the end of his career. I don’t necessarily forgive him for what he did, but I do appreciate that he finally came clean. Here’s to the next two years, and to hoping he can be the leader that the Yankees will need for the youth movement they are trying to go with.

Mike:

Couldn’t agree more. This has been fun, we might be on to something here!

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