New York Yankees Legends: Alex Rodriguez, a 22-year blemished career (video)

New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez a 22-year baseball career

No New York Yankees player is as controversial as Alex Rodriguez and many Yankee fans will not consider him a legend, but consider him a disgrace. For those I suggest you don’t read this article. I consider him a legend due to his career stats, the impact he had on the Yankees, for being the highest-paid player at the time, and for his involvement in the Anthony Bosch drug scandal.

Although the drug era put a huge mark on baseball and a lot of asterisks beside players names, I think two things: One is that no one really knows of all the players who’s records will be “legitimate” only because they were never caught, and two, many of these players would have played as well, without being involved in performance-enhancing drugs. Also, many fans unfairly place more importance on who the player was and not on the substance abuse itself. The fact that Alex will never enter the Hall of Fame due to his involvement is enough punishment, but you can’t take away the amazing accomplishments of his 22-year career due to a few months using drugs. Rodriguez never tested positive for drug use while with the New York Yankees.

Rodriguez the early years

Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez was born on July 27, 1975 to Victor and Lourdes Rodriguez in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan where he lived until the age of four when his family moved to the Dominican Republic and then to Miami. His formative years began on the dusty diamonds of South Miami-Dade, guided by a small group of mentors, fathers and coaches who recognized the raw talent behind the wiry, insecure boy whose father had abandoned him, and whose hardworking single mother had neither the means nor the time to support his dreams of baseball glory. Rodriguez, at the end of his freshman year in high school, would transfer to Westminster Christian, he would be a quarterback on the football team and a short shop on the baseball team.

At Westminster Christian In 100 games, he batted .419 with 90 stolen bases. Westminster went on to win the high school national championship in his junior year. In his senior year, he would hit .505 with 9 home runs and 36 RBI’s, and 35 stolen bases in 33 games without being caught. He was recognized as the number one baseball prospect and was offered scholarships to play college ball, but would forgo them and sign with the Seattle Mariners in the 1993 draft at the age of 17. He would spend only a year in the minors. In that year, he would make his major league debut at the age of 18 and be the youngest position player in Seattle history. He would have his first home run on June 12 and become the permanent short top in August. In 1996 he would bat .358, the highest average for a right-hander since New York Yankees Joe DiMaggio.

While with Seattle (7 years) he would compile a batting average of.309 with 169 home runs and 595 RBI’s before moving on to the Texas Rangers where he would hit .305 with 156 home runs and 395 RBI’s. In 2001 he became the first player since 1932 with 50 homers and 200 hits in a season and only the third shortstop to do so. In 2002 he led the league with 57 home runs and appear in his sixth All-Star Game, be a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove recipient. During his time with the Rangers (2001-2003) is the period he would later admit having used performance-enhancing drugs.

Alex Rodriguez becomes a Yankee

On February 15, 2004, the Rangers traded Rodriguez to the New York Yankees. Rodriguez being one of best shortstops in baseball was faced with having to switch to the third baseman, as the Yankees already had star shortstop Derek Jeter, which Rodriguez agreed to do. During his first year, he would hit .283 with 36 home runs. he equaled the single-game post-season record with five runs scored in Game 3 at Boston in the postseason. The Yankee would lose the ALCS that year to the eventual World Series winner Boston Red Sox. Many faulted Alex due to an interference call on him, preventing Jeter from scoring. He hit a roller that was picked up by the Boston pitcher, who moved quickly to the first baseline to tag Alex out, but Alex knocked the ball from his glove, Jeter scored, but the umpires sent him back and charged Rodriguez with interference.

A historic 2005 MVP season

In 2005 he would hit 48 home runs while hitting .321. He became the first New York Yankee to win the American League home run title since Reggie Jackson. On June 8th, he would become the youngest player to reach the 400 home run mark. 2005 also marked the tenth straight season that Rodriguez scored at least 100 runs. During his time with the Yankees Rodriguez would never attain the form and range as he did as a shortstop at third base, although he would have above-average defensive stats.

On April 26, 2005, Alex Rodriguez was to have a career game.  A-Rod would have a 10 RBI game against the Angels.  Only Tony Lazzeri, in 1936, with 11 RBIs, was better.  What made this feat nearly equal is that A-Rod would do it off the eventual 2005 Cy Young Award winner.  A-Rod had a three-run banger at the bottom of the first.  At the bottom of the third, Rodriguez yanked a Colon slider over the left-field wall for two more RBI.  He would top that with a Grand Slam in the sixth.  He singled in a run in the ninth as the New York Yankees took the Angels 12-4.  A-Rod improved Yankee pitcher Carl Pavano’s record to 2-2.  A-Rod is one of only 11 players in the history of baseball to accomplish this feat.

In 2007 he would drive in the highest number of batters in his career (156) and get his second MVP Award as a Yankee. After being the only eighth player to reach the 2000 hit mark before the age of 31, the year before he racked up 183 hits and 54 home runs.and was again an MVP.

For years he was also dogged by an inability to come up big in the postseason. On that front, at least, Rodriguez silenced some of his critics when his bat caught fire and he slugged the Yankees to a World Series championship in 2009.

Rodriguez would play six more successful seasons with the Yankees until he was suspended by the MLB for 162 games in 2014 for using drugs during his time with the Texas Rangers. Rather than go into a long dissertation on the subject, I will summarize: Rodriguez and 12 other players were caught up with an investigation of Biogenesis, the now-shuttered “anti-aging” clinic run by Anthony Bosch. In a messy legal battle the Yankees wanted to void Alex’s contract but failed.

During his suspension, he would have dual hip surgery. Rodriguez returned to the Yankees in 2015 and became a model citizen on the field and in the clubhouse nurturing younger players while being an MVP nominee again. In 2016 Alex would play in only 65 games, but it was a year that he had his 12,000th plate appearance and hit a 440′ home run at Tropicana Field, his 30th under that dome. For the year he had injuries and his play was compromised.

The Yankees would grant Rodriguez his unconditional release and Alex would announce that his last game as a Yankee would be on August 12th. He would become a special advisor to Hal Steinbrenner and a spring training instructor. He would end his career with numbers that rank among the best ever in several categories, including 696 home runs, 2086 RBIs, 3,115hits and 2021runs. The 14-time All-Star, the 10 time Silver Slugger, the 14 time MVP candidate, 2 time Gold Glover, and the 3 time MVP was one of the most talented baseball players ever, but will forever be remembered as a drug cheat among his detractors.

For his admirers, you would agree with many of his coaches and baseball analyst that say that he was so talented and such a student of the game, that he would have been just as accomplished without using any enhancing substances, even for a short period.

Alex is engaged to singing star Jennifer Lopez.  The pair formed Tiller and Hatch, a food preparation company.  During the COVID-19 coronavirus, A-Rod is grappling with the virus by making huge donations.  First, they are supplying a Tennesse school with a year of meals for all their children and stocking their food pantry.  More recently A-Rod is feeding over 20,000 unemployed Miami area, hotel workers. The pair live in Coral Gables, Florida.  The pair is also investigating purchasing the New York Mets.