We are witnessing exactly why Yankees brass tried to keep Alex Rodriguez off the field. Because at the very least, if A-Rod returned from his record-breaking PED suspension as a clean baller and was effective, then GM Brian Cashman and The Steinbrenner Boys would have some egg on their faces. Their personal smear campaigns in the name of financial greed would have proved fruitless.
In the last three years, A-Rod has replaced “legally vindicated” Barry Bonds as baseball’s biggest villain. The media mouthpieces of sports journalism wanted the new face of the PED Era out of the game. The Yankees treated him like the plague. Some Yankees fans really didn’t care if he dropped off the face of the earth. They were fed up with the playboy slugger who was hitting more celebrity tail at the that time than he was opposing pitchers — especially come playoffs. For the emotionally indifferent it was a “let’s wait and see what he does” type of deal.
Fifteen big blasts later (and it isnt even All-Star break) and A-Rod has re-established himself as the best power hitter in the Yankees lineup, a possible All-Star selection and one of the great surprise stories of 2015. This season is shaping up to be a redemption song that Lauryn Hill and The Marleys couldn’t even top.
Can you believe that A-Rod was actually honored by the Yankees? He’s come such a long way in a short time. The news outlets still try to clown him from time to time, but he’s getting the last laugh and proving to be a great case study in the level of contrition a player has to show before he can be forgiven for past indiscretions.
A-Rod was named the MetLife Yankees Player of the Month for May, receiving the award during a pregame ceremony Tuesday night. Rodriguez smashed six home runs and 14 RBI in May while hitting .316 and slugging .571 with a .941 OPS. That’s old school, let loose the juice numbers he’s posting and to my knowledge he’s cleaner than a Detroit pimp at a Player’s Convention,
A-Rod followed his award ceremony with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate, smacking a home run (15) and collecting two RBI (42). He garnered his 3,000th career hit in epic fashion on Friday night, when he connected in the the first inning on a first-pitch, 95 mph fastball from Detroit Tigers broken down hurler Justin Verlander.
Who would have imagined that A-Rod would be a better and healthier player than the 32-year-old Verlander who was AL MVP and Cy Young winner in 2011 ? In that same season A-Rod was getting booed relentlessly by Yankees and Tigers fans as he batted .111 (2-for-18) in an ALDS loss to the Detroit.
Revenge is best served four seasons later and A-Rod victimized Verlander to become the 29th player in major league history with 3,000 hits. Ironically, Rodriguez was the first to do it since Yankees great Derek Jeter homered from the very same batter’s box in …2011.
“It’s a magical number… I’m very happy to be in the club.” Rodriguez said with the unfamiliar tone of a newfound humility. He’s always been considered a teacher of sorts and big brother in the clubhouse, but now he is respecting the media’s gangster, MLB’s influential hand and playing nice for the BBWAA. The Hall of Fame’s governing body has spoken loud and clear as to how voters will handle PED crush kings.
A-Rod’s advantage is that he can work on his reputation and mend fences in live time. He doesn’t need YouTube clips to defend his position as to what he means to the game. He’s currently doing it and it’s an incredible sight to behold.
To most fans, A-Rod is considered the anti-Jeter and as long as they both played on the same field, for the same team, A-Rod would never get that true love that The Captain got. In fact, even when A-Rod was helping the Yankees win a World Series, certain folks refused to embrace him and give him credit. Only three men in modern baseball history have driven in over 2,000 runs and the Dominican legend from Miami via BK is one of them. Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron are the others.
Time to give son his props. Time to start complimenting his resilience and obvious “natural” love for the game. He’s had 40-40 seasons and 50 plus homer years. He’s won three MVPs and a batting title, but when this season is complete, it will go down as the most fulfilling of A-Rod’s career.
With Jeter gone and the savior spotlight shining on A-Rod, he’s simply stolen the show and struck down the notion that PEDs made him a great player. In cases such as this, it’s too simplistic a theory. He’s 39, coming off a year layoff, injury and public assassination at the same damn time and he’s batting in the coveted third hole on a NY Yankees team that is battling for first in the American League East.
A-Rod’s no longer one superstar too many. He’s finally being appreciated and valued for the superstar he’s always been.
When he smashed his 3,000th hit, Yankees fans spazzed out as the ball sailed a half-dozen rows into the seats. It was a vintage A-Rod shot. Difference is, there was a true connection. Rodriguez pointed to the crowd a couple of times and blew a kiss to someone behind the backstop after crossing the plate. To me, it was the moment A-Rod earned his vindication and erased the past two years of humiliation, ridicule, belittlement and castigation. Yankee fans finally understand that the retired Derek Jeter can no longer be disrespected in a game if they cheer too loudly for the currently playing A-Rod. With the crowd at Yankee Stadium standing in anticipation, Rodriguez sent a high drive to right field. He held onto the bat as he took a few steps toward first base, and began his classic trot. His smile said it all; “I’m winning.”
Media and fans of YankeesHaterNation choose to ignore the obvious baseball ability and minimize this man’s historic success by attributing that success to magical pills, creams and concoctions created by a mad scientist who chose to pursue the cure for Roger Maris and Hank Aaron’s longstanding home run records, rather than a cure for cancer.
The consensus around baseball was that he was washed up. He was too old and he needed PEDs to be the prolific hitter he’s been in the past. The year away from the game was supposed to finish off any hopes of a return and force him into shamed retirement.
A-Rod ate his suspension, worked harder than ever and it actually benefited him because he was able to rest his body, reflect, refocus on the game, slide out of the tabloids for a sec and get healthy for the first time in years. He came into Spring Training with a chip on his shoulder, a mission in mind and a pep in his step. Despite the negative feedback from Yankee brass and media types putting him in an early grave, manager Joe Girardi let it be known from early, that if A-Rod could produce, he would play. Now just shut up, enjoy the show and admit you were wrong.