How will you remember A-Rod’s career?

by Gary Shelton on August 8, 2016 · 1 comment

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

A-Rod could have been remembered as the finest./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

A-Rod could have been remembered as the finest./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Monday, 6 a.m.

And so he walks away to mixed reviews, which is as it should be. As a player, he spent his career half in sun, half in shadow.

He was Alex Rodriguez, star, and Alex Rodriguez, scourge. He dominated the statistics, and he dominated the scandal sheets. He was a cheater, and he was a champion. Let historians fight it out. He may have been the most polarizing figure in baseball history, a player who wouldn't let you like him.

Even now, even at the end, A-Rod is getting his way. The Yankees want him gone. This was a team decision; even Rodriguez admits that. But, A-Rod doesn't want to go without one final shot at Rays'

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How much would A-Rod have been loved if he would have allowed it?TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

How much would A-Rod have been loved if he would have allowed it?TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

pitching. Would you? Heck, he might juice up one more time just to be ready. Are they going to suspend him now?

And so you think about a lot of things as the end approaches for A-Rod. You think of the kid with the great smile. You think of the youngster whose love of the game would never be challenged. You think of the guy who sold winning for a huge contract. You thought of the cheating Yankee.

Me? I thought of what all was lost in a list of mistakes.

He could have been the greatest, the most beloved, of them all. He could have sold candy bars and cereal. He could have charged the dollars right out of America's wallet.

A-Rod really did have that kind of personality. In the end, I thought he wanted too badly to be great — badly enough to cut corners. I thought he wanted unconditional love, and his conditions never included playing by the rules. He came across as something of a phony.

How many people will look at him walking away as just another cheater leaving the diamond? How people will look at him as the anti-Jeter, the smooth shortstop who forced A-Rod to move to third when he came to New York. Jeter was all about winning; A-Rod was all about stats. Jeter was a diplomat; A-Rod was a diva. Jeter was one of the most popular Yankees ever; despite his stats, A-Rod was, what 403rd?

A friend of mine, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post, wrote this earlier in the week: “He is what the rest of the country often sees as New York: a little too much swagger, a little too rich, a little too entitled, a little too arrogant, a little too needy.” That's perfect.  In the end, A-Rod was just too much A-Rod. He had to accentuate his domination.

Don't you wish you could have given Rodrigues a little advice over the years? Why push for $252-million contract? Isn't that running up the score? Who pushes for that last $2 million? Why go to Texas anyway? The Rangers had no chance of winning in those days. Why mess with steroids? Why have Cameron Diaz feed you popcorn? Why announce a new contract in the middle of the World Series. Why Madonna while you were married? Why kiss yourself in the mirror?

There were so many missteps for A-Rod. So many goofs.

Lost, too, are the sheer numbers that A-Rod could have put up. If you assume he could have approximated his total while clean, he could have been the all-time home run leader without losing 2014.

You wouldn't have thought that back in 1993. I met A-Rod at an Olympic Festival in San Antonio. He was already playing hardball with Scott Boras. But everyone negotiates hard. While with the Mariners, A-Rod had the reputation as “the good one'' when compared to Ken Griffey Jr., who just went into the Hall of Fame.

Now you wonder: Will A-Rod be elected there?

Oh, he has no-doubt numbers, but his chemical history introduces plenty of doubts. How are you ever going to put A-Rod into the Hall when you're keeping Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out? If you put this fraud in, then you might as well stop banning anyone.

How will we remember him? Maybe as what he was not. Honorable. Clean. Maybe as what he was. A home run hitter. A great performer.

Maybe, just maybe, we will remember what he could have been.

And that's the biggest loss of all.

A-Rod wants another shot at Rays' pitching./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

A-Rod wants another shot at Rays' pitching./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

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