MLB

Why Alex Rodriguez Is No Longer the Most Hated Man in Baseball

Alex Rodriguez is either a beloved superstar, hated cheater, or some combination of the two. While the shortstop is one of the highest-profile athletes to get brought down by the steroid scandal, he’s been getting better press as of late. Could time heal all wounds and allow Rodriguez to get the love he so desperately sought from fans?

Alex Rodriguez: MLB superstar

Rodriguez was born in New York, New York. Although he eventually called Miami home, these New York roots were key in his career. Showing his talent at an early age, he was the first pick of the 1993 MLB draft at just 18 years old. He could bomb the ball into the bleachers, play the field, and do the intangibles that made him a cut above the rest.

To add to this, Rodriguez spent his first years learning alongside Ken Griffey Jr., one of the most famous athletes in the world. These times in Seattle helped Rodriguez grow. After spending most of his first two years in the minors, he broke out during the 1996 season, his first as a full-time member of the Mariners. Rodriguez hit 36 home runs, batted in 123 runners, and showed why he was the first pick.

For seven years, Rodriguez proved to be one of the best young Marlins and MLB players. By 2001, however, his price was steep, and the Mariners had to let him walk. Rodriguez eventually signed a 10-year deal with the Texas Rangers worth a quarter of a billion dollars. It was the biggest contract in sports. While he only lasted three years in Texas, Rodriguez was on another level. He hit 57 home runs during the 2002 season.

Eventually, the Rangers decided to rebuild, and Rodriguez was sent where many of the highest-paid players in baseball find themselves — New York City.

Alex Rodriguez: disgrace

Rodriguez’s return to the city he was born should have been an uproarious occasion for everyone. In many ways, it was. The Yankees were contenders for the World Series nearly every year, and at 28 years old, Rodriguez was in his prime. He showed that he was worth the payday every year, batting it out of the park. The Yankees might have been Derek Jeter’s team, but Rodriguez was a worthy sidekick

By 2008, Rodriguez’s production began going down just two years into another massive contract. One year later, Rodriguez was implicated in a Sports Illustrated investigation which claimed he tested positive for banned substances in 2003. After initial denials. Rodriguez admitted that while he had taken steroids in the past, he was clean now. 

His image was tarnished forever. Rodriguez remained in New York for several years, including their 2009 World Series, but his image took a hit. A shell of his former self, he was once again implicated in a steroid scandal that cost him the entire 2014 season. He hung up his cleats for good in 2016 and over to television.

Rodriguez retired with 696 home runs, 2,086 RBIs, and more honors than one could count. Still, his legacy was complicated and he had garnered bad will from the entire league. 

Alex Rodriguez: redeemed?

Rodriguez has seen the hatred he inspired dwindle in retirement. Although he is now clean about his past steroid abuse, he has shown the charm that made people like him for the first half of his career. Rodriguez is an analyst for ESPN, where his insights have made him a favorite among fans. Rodriguez is looking toward bigger things, however. 

Still richer than most could ever imagine, Rodriguez has been making the news due to his interest in buying the New York Mets. Not only that, but he has also become a favorite of the tabloid media and celebrity publications everywhere thanks to his relationship with Jennifer Lopez. The man who was once one of the faces of a disgraceful era in baseball has rehabilitated his image. 

When he isn’t on TV or TMZ, Rodriguez is enjoying life with Lopez and his kids. He isn’t the pariah he was while playing, and while the wounds remain, a lot of people have moved on. Now, a glimpse at Rodriguez’s social media shows a family man, not the malcontent, the cheater, or the superstar athlete. Instead, he appears to be humbled.

Rodriguez might be done with baseball, but his future seems bright regardless of the warts.