Alex Rodriguez is one of the most scorned athletes in the media today. There is a palpable amount of hatred towards A-Rod from the media, fans, and hell, even Yankees executives. And yet, the reasons for all of the disdain towards Rodriguez are petty at best. Yet, that doesn't stop media members from taking snipes at Rodriguez whenever his name pops up, despite the fact that he's never hurt anyone and he's never done anything to put anyone in danger, unlike so many others in the sports world today.
The media has made me do the impossible, and right now, I feel sorry for Alex Rodriguez.
The hatred towards A-Rod is nothing new. Six years ago, he shouted while an infielder was hovering under a pop-up, causing him to miss the ball. This, of course, brought up numerous discussions about the ridiculous "unwritten rules of baseball", which makes Rodriguez apparently the first player ever to violate them. The same argument came up in the 2004 ALCS when Rodriguez smacked a ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove while running down the first base line. Both of the incidents were questionable, but if Derek Jeter committed either act, he'd get lauded for his smart thinking and heads up play.
Speaking of Jeter, he gets lauded for his postseason success, while Rodriguez gets relentlessly railed against for postseason failures…despite A-Rod's career postseason OPS being just five points lower than that of Jeter's. Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and Jorge Posada all have worse career playoff numbers than Rodriguez, yet they all escape the undying criticism that is thrust upon A-Rod.
Rodriguez admitted to taking steroids from 2001 to 2003, and is still beaten to death for it. Andy Pettitte also admits to taking PEDs, and you never hear any ill will towards him. David Ortiz tested positive in 2003, and gets a bye on the basis of a weak excuse. Jason Giambi was juiced to the gills leading into his massive contract with the Yankees, and not only isn't he persona non grata around baseball, he keeps getting bench jobs and is talked about as a future manager. Aren't double standards swell?
The snipes surrounding Rodriguez right now are laughable. We have Jeff Passan telling him to get a clue and Jon Heyman dragging up Jeter's name once again, all because Rodriguez has the unmitigated gall to want to play and help the Yankees. Reports about Rodriguez's condition are loaded with anonymous sources slandering him and a stunning lack of perspective. The Biogenesis scandal that has centered around Rodriguez and Ryan Braun seemingly forgets that others players, including Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, and Gio Gonzalez were also mentioned in the documents. Yet, Rodriguez is the one being vilified incessantly now that Braun has been suspended.
So here we are. One of the greatest players of the steroid era is making a sport of being dragged through the mud. The relationship that baseball writers have had with steroids over the last 15 years has enveloped the game. In 1998, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were hitting balls were fans never ventured, we gawked. In 2001, when Barry Bonds, Sosa, and Luis Gonzalez were smashing homers at an absurd rate, it wasn't a big deal. In 2013, revisionist history is causing all of them to be wiped from the record books…except the fans are smarter than that. Once you start down the slippery slope of excluding players from the record books, the line you need to stop at becomes more and more blurry until you're left with a significant portion of baseball history missing. The overbearing attitude towards Rodriguez by the mainstream media is just one step towards traveling down that slippery slope, and if more steps are taken, things could get quite hairy in the future.