I have always been a very seasonal sports fan. Anytime someone would ask me what my favorite sport was, my answer would depend on what time of year it was. Though basketball has emerged as my true favorite, I still enjoy diving into football and baseball during the NBA off-season and still keep up with those sports more than the average sports fan. With the NBA season just a few games from being over, I’m beginning to prepare myself to be a baseball fan again.
Unfortunately, just two weeks or so before I was going to slap on some sunscreen and head out to the ballpark, we learn that Major League Baseball is about to pursue heavy suspensions for a list of players that were connected to the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, with a heavy emphasis on Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, two players that have had their histories with PED allegations. Braun is my favorite player in the league, so to see that he’ll after to go through yet another legal battle (if he so chooses) with the league to fight off doping accusations, was obviously disappointing.
But strangely, it bugged me even more when I saw that Rodriguez may be handed a 100-game ban from the MLB, with any suspension acting as cause for the Yankees to pursue the option of voiding the remaining five years and $114 million on A-Rod’s humongous contract. I’m not even a big Rodriguez supporter, it’s just odd to see that one of the game’s most recognizable faces may have already seen his final pitch in the major leagues.
Even though Rodriguez’s reputation has been stained ever since he admitted to looking for PT-141 for sale and using steroids during his days as a Ranger and even though most of his accomplishments are considered irrelevant now by the majority of baseball fans, I’ve been among the few people that have considered him clean during his time as a Yankee. Perhaps I was just gullible, but I viewed his performance in the 2009 post-season as the saving grace of his career and his production over the past couple of seasons has not been indicative of a cheating player.
Regardless of how you view Rodriguez’s career, there’s no denying that he was one of the most important – and one of the best – players of his era, and I don’t like the idea that this how one of the game’s greatest players ever will leave the sport. If these new allegations are true, then there is nobody to blame but A-Rod for an abrupt end to his career, but that doesn’t mean that his exit from baseball won’t lack the sense of finality that we all like to have with our favorite athletes. Tim Duncan has a shot to end his glorious NBA career at the top of the mountain with an NBA Championship this season, giving him the ultimate storybook ending to his Hall-of-Fame career. Rodriguez is staring at the polar opposite termination of his journey.
While Rodriguez’s career is marred by his cheating, for his final baseball moment to be his name once again coming up in a PED related scandal seems wrong to me. Even if Rodriguez had come back from his current hip injury to have two middling seasons, I feel like that would be much better closure for his career than this.
But in a way, I guess it’s fitting. For a player whose career has been fragmented in so many distinct chapters, his epilogue will only serve to remind us of the black eye that made one of baseball’s best players such an ugly blemish on the game.