Major League Baseball has seen it’s share of excitement in 2016.
There was the offseason announcement that David Ortiz, or to the avid baseball fan “Big Papi”, would be making this season his last. That is a tough one for me as a Red Sox fan, but I am thankful for the memories he has given Red Sox Nation.
This season also has seen the resurgence of the Chicago Cubs; a Cleveland Indians team looking forward to the playoffs; Ichiro Suzuki getting hit No. 3,000; Vin Scully walking away from broadcasting for the Los Angeles Dodgers; and the press conference in which Mark Teixeira announced his retirement.
But the biggest thing to come out of MLB this season happened Sunday morning in New York.
In a news conference called by the legendary New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez announced he would be playing in his final Yankees game Friday, at Yankee Stadium, against the Tampa Bay Rays.
No longer will No, 13 wear the Pinstripes as a player. He will instead stay on the Yankees staff as a special adviser to the team. While I sat and enjoyed my morning coffee,I couldn’t helped but get a bit sentimental about this news.
Sure, A-Rod is a New York Yankee but, in this case, it goes deeper than that.
I grew up watching this man on the field. He made his Major League debut with the Seattle Mariners on July 8, 1994 at just 18 years old. I can imagine myself at 9 years old, sitting in front of the television and absorbing all of the hype that surrounded this guy. And, he was on the same team as Ken Griffey, Jr., inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame this summer.
The future was bright for Rodriguez, that went without saying.
Twenty-two years later. A-Rod has belted 696 home runs, No. 4 on the all-time list. He ranks third in RBIs with 2,084. He is one of only 30 men to record 3,000 or more hits in their career (3,114). Rodriguez is a 14-time American League All-Star. He has a World Series championship ring from 2009 with the Yankees. He has won 10 Silver Slugger Awards; two Gold Gloves; and three League Most Valuable Player awards, one with the Texas Rangers (2003) and two with New York (2005, 2007).
He’s had a career most could only dream of having.
Unfortunately, his career and all that he has accomplished will be remembered with an asterik.
This has become very common in this day and age. Barry Bonds set an all-time record for home runs in a season (73) and a career (762), among many other impressive accomplishments. But to old-school baseball fans, these numbers mean nothing due to Bonds’ involvement with PEDs, performance enhancing drugs. Bonds will probably never make it to Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, neither will Alex Rodriguez.
That’s a tough pill to swallow, as I grew up watching these talents, as well as other scandal-ridden superstars like Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and Roger Clemens. The numbers are there, yet how they got those numbers will always be met with criticism.
But, the world will never see another player quite like Alex Rodriguez. And I he A-Rod retains some level of respect.
We will, as fans, probably never know the full story or the reasons behind the choices he made. Sure, the choices made when the jersey comes off can jeopardize a career, but he sure did give it one heck of a ride over the past 20+ years.
I love the game of baseball, always have, always will. Rodriguez helped shape that love for me.
And even though his career will not end up with him enshrined among the greats, nobody can take away the memories and the stories.
Hats off to Alex Rodriguez!
Love him or you hate him, it will be incredibly difficult to deny his talents and what he has given to America’s game.
Email Chad Clinger at firstname.lastname@example.org