Monday, August 8, 2016

Father Time Comes For Us All

Alex Rodriguez only has five days left in his tenure as a Yankee. He is the longest-tenured Yankees player at 11 years (one year was spent suspended). From Sunday to the end of the season you're sure to read a litany of articles about where he stands among the baseball greats. Just as a quick example I've pulled the "Career Highlights and Awards" from his Wikipedia page, but I highly recommend that page and his baseball reference page to truly understand his greatness.

• World Series champion (2009)
3× AL MVP (2003, 2005, 2007)
14× All-Star (1996–1998, 2000–2008, 2010,2011)
10× Silver Slugger Award (1996, 1998–2003,2005, 2007, 2008)
2× Gold Glove Award (2002, 2003)
4× AL Hank Aaron Award (2001–2003, 2007)
5× AL home run leader (2001–2003, 2005, 2007)
2× MLB RBI leader (2002, 2007)
MLB batting champion (1996)
500 home run club
3,000 hit club

When you look at the pure numbers A-Rod is not only one of the best players to ever play the game but he is one of the best Yankees ever. Unfortunately for his perception and legacy with fans, many don't look at the numbers but rather how they believe they were achieved. Perhaps if A-Rod were not at the center of the Biogenesis scandal, he would be receiving the send-off David Ortiz (who was on the Mitchell Report) is receiving. Maybe if he hadn't taken shirtless pictures up against a mirror or in Central Park for magazines fans and writers would not be so eager to attack his personality. 

Alex Rodriguez is not a perfect role model, in his press conference, he mentions how he has fallen and gotten back up multiple times. With the 24-7 news cycle, social media and other news forms his misdeeds have been in the public eye. Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle were alcoholics who had multiple affairs. Mickey Mantle even brought his mistress to his jersey retirement ceremony. Whitey Ford has admitted to doctoring baseballs on occasion. I'm not trying to run down these players as I revere them too, but I want to demonstrate that there are no perfect role models. Every player is human and has faults.

Since his return from suspension, A-Rod has reinvented himself as a person and a teammate. If you 
follow him on social media you know the only thing, he loves more than his teammates are his daughters. He has taken on a mentorship role with the team, in 2015 when Didi Gregorius was struggling offensively and defensively A-Rod worked with him on his footwork.

It will be tough to say goodbye on Friday. I'll be in my season ticket seats in 420B and I expect an extremely somber mood. Rodriguez is a legendary player, and I wanted him to go out on top, not with the season he is having and this "retirement." I put retirement in quotes because he is not actually retiring. The Yankees are releasing him from his player contract. He has not actually indicated he would not suit up for another team. Perhaps a team like the Miami Marlins will pick him up and ride with him until he hits four more home runs to get him to 700 career home runs. However as a 41-year-old who can't play the field anymore and is not hitting this seems unlikely. In my opinion the Yankees are dressing up his release because of his outstanding career. 

The silver lining in Rodriguez no longer being an active player is his new role Special Adviser and Instructor. I hope that it is not a farce and he will be utilized. With the Yankees ongoing youth movement and top talent up and down the minor league levels to have them exposed to Alex Rodriguez's wealth of knowledge will help mold them into the players that will bring a World Series trophy to the Bronx for the first time since Alex Rodriguez did in 2009.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)