KELLY: Somehow over the last few years, the New York Yankees have turned a steriod-abusing, cheating, cocky, arrogant player into someone you feel bad for, and even someone who’s likable.
As a Yankees fan, I have a complicated relationship with arguably one of the greatest players of my time. His 2009 season (probably influenced by some substances…) was absolutely incredible and helped us capture one last title for some of the more recent Yankee legends like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
He brought us many highlight moments and career milestones that I’ll always remember. He was the youngest player in history to get to #600. He also brought some extra life to that Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, which always provided highlight-reel fights. Ask Jason Varitek about that one.
But despite the highlights, the lower lights must get mentioned. There were the on-the-field antics like slapping the balls out of gloves and the off-the-field steroid mess and the Biogenesis scandal.
Throughout it all, Rodriguez seemed to always hurt his cause, lying over and over – whether to the press and Mike Francesa or to the Yankees fans like yours truly who tried so hard to be an A-Rod apologist and cheer him on.
I grew to dislike him for awhile, especially following the Biogenesis scandal. But, I’ve softened my tone since. I have to say this ESPN the Magazine piece on him gave me a different perspective into a man I really knew nothing about.
I’ve grown to understand that he was a man who absolutely loved the sport of baseball and wanted to be the best no matter what. No matter if that meant blurring the lines of right and wrong or putting potentially harmful substances into his body. He was thrust onto the scenes as a young teenager and was forced to grow up in the eyes of the public. His mistakes and hard times, his cheating to get ahead or divorcing his wife or not really always getting along with his teammates, happened in the bright spotlights before our eyes.
He came with big pricetags and promises, and didn’t always deliver, which angered the fans and even those covering the games. The man didn’t seem to have many friends in the clubhouse or outside of it. And he was also always compared with the guy who stood just a few feet away – fairly or unfairly.
So A-Rod, while it’s a complicated goodbye, I wish you the best of luck on your future endeavors, which by the way better include you on TV, because you were incredible on Fox’s broadcasts last year.