(Photo by Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News)
In 2007, when 11-year-old me opened up an issue of Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine, eagerly turning to the middle to see who was on that week’s pullout poster, and was greeted by Alex Rodriguez, holding his bat, gazing at the path of a home run. I put the poster on my wall, below Derek Jeter, above Mike Mussina. It stayed there for five years.
Yesterday I tore it down and threw it in the trash. After years of admiring, then merely observing, then barely tolerating A-Rod, I was finally done.
Of course, many people would have taken down the poster a long time ago. But when A-Rod’s postseason troubles became a citywide punching bag, I kept my cool. It was a small sample size. Just bad luck. What’re you gonna do? When A-Rod began struggling the past few years, I didn’t overreact. You can’t be the best in the game forever. Have to take the bad with the good. Even when A-rod admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs during his years with the Texas Rangers, I didn’t go nuts. We had seen steroids before, and he hadn’t taken anything in a Yankee uniform. To me, A-Rod was like the dorky kid at school who everyone bullied. It seemed like he was just a scapegoat for the issues of a while team. And regardless, he’s one of the best ballplayers in history. Sure, he was annoying, but he couldn’t be that bad, right?
According to a report by the Miami New Times that followed a three-month investigation, Alex Rodriguez had purchased PED’s since 2009 from a sketchy Miami clinic called Biogenesis, meaning a Rangers uniform was not the only one he cheated in. His name is listed alongside the already-busted former Yankee Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz of the Rangers, and Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals in the personal files of Anthony Bosch, the man in charge of the operation. The evidence makes his 2009 admission of steroid use shocking. From his apologetic press conference:
“I’m finally beginning to grow up. I’m pretty tired of being stupid and selfish, you know, about myself. The truth needed to come out a long time ago. I’m glad it’s coming out today.”
The Miami New Times didn’t just report that A-Rod cheated on the ball field. They reported that he lied to me and every baseball fan. He said he had cleaned himself up. He said he was done. He wasn’t. And after years of avoiding it, I’m finally jumping on the “I hate A-Rod” bandwagon.
I hate his smug, arrogant personality. I hate how he smacks his bat into the ground when he pops out. And most of all (I’m cringing just thinking about it), I vehemently despise the face he puts on when he strikes out, pursing his lips together, yanking his chin up, putting his bat under his shoulder as he coolly unstraps his batting gloves on his way back to the dugout. It’s like he’s saying, “I don’t even care. I know I’ll be breaking the bank whether I strike out or not.” Watching A-Rod strike out is the most gut-wrenching thing a Yankee fan can suffer through.
And the worst part is, it’s true. Though the Yankees got the undisputed best player in baseball when they traded for and subsequently signed A-Rod, there’s no doubt that he is worth far, far less than the money he is currently earning. The Yankees are trying to void his contract, but their chances are slim. With Scott Boras as your agent, the language is usually pretty tight.
Tearing down my A-Rod poster in my room means the end of an era. It means that I finally have given up on my favorite team’s biggest investment ever. But, at least from what I’ve heard, hating A-Rod can be pretty fun.