Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez (Photo courtesy of the New York Post)

by Mike Reistetter

Alex Rodriguez’s baseball career has been defined by controversy in more recent years. Formerly deemed the superstar of his generation, “A-Rod” has seen his stardom shred enormously due to his use of performance enhancing drugs.

Rodriguez, 39, was suspended for the entire 2014 season because of his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal.

The dominant right-handed hitter had previously been on pace to break many offensive records. Both the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees valued his breathtaking talents enough to sign him to the two largest contracts in professional sports history: 10 years- $252 million in 2001, and 10 years- $275 million in 2007, respectively.

During spring training in 2009, A-Rod revealed in a press conference that during his three year stint with Texas from 2001-2003, he used steroids, citing “pressures to perform” as reasoning for his violations.

Despite being critically attacked by the media often for both his poor sportsmanship on the field and his extramarital affairs off the field, A-Rod was always one that resonated deeply with fans for his strong play and athletic legacy. Still, his fans were known for being relentless at times, showing A-Rod bitter tough love for his consistent struggles in the playoffs early in his Yankee career.

His admission to steroid use in the past seemed to prove as a type of weight lifted off his shoulders, as he seemed to be universally forgiven after what appeared to be a sincere and genuine apology. A-Rod returned from a hip injury on May 1st and then went-on to have an incredible year, where he was finally able to live up to his brand name and perform exceptionally in the playoffs. With clutch hit after clutch hit, he carried the Yankees back to the World championship, bringing them their first World Series victory since 2000, earning his first (and only) ring.

Five years later, an aging and beaten down A-Rod saw his popularity and reputation fade prominently, with reports being made that he was indeed back on human growth hormone, a performance enhancer.

The Biogenesis scandal also professed that A-Rod requested documents linking him to the drug providers to be destroyed, and in doing so he deliberately attempted to interfere with a federal investigation.

Ultimately, A-Rod’s original 214-game suspension was reduced to 162 games, the entire 2014 season.

His suspension came after he endured through the appeals process in 2013, where he infamously attempted to sue both his own doctors and his own team, The New York Yankees, claiming they tried to prevent him from being cleared to play. Subsequent investigations into whether the Yankees intentionally tried to sabotage A-Rod’s return from an injury in 2013 were eventually dropped.

It’s safe to say that the Yankees, who would never admit it, would have loved to evade paying Alex the ridiculous amount of money he is owed, especially because of the negative attention he has brought the team and the crippling impact he has had on their payroll flexibility.

So in 2015, the return of a healthy Alex Rodriguez is surprisingly what most people are dying to see. The Yankees frankly need him to produce, and will happily take whatever offense they can get out of him for the next three seasons, so they can see out the remainder of his contract.

Now that the Yankees have said farewell to their captain and leader, Derek Jeter, the spotlight is entirely on the egomaniacal A-Rod who, as detrimental as he’s been to the integrity of the sport, is the biggest story in baseball heading into the new season.

He has proven he can redeem himself before, but the ship has seemed to have definitely sailed on his likeability as far as hall of fame voters are concerned. For now, sports fans can just sit back and enjoy what is to unfold in the next chapter of the “Soap Opera-esque” marriage between Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball.