With Alex Rodriguez playing the way he has, many have now gone way of thinking PEDs meant very little in the scope of his career. Why?
By Robby Sabo
Alex Rodriguez is a beast. The man has collected 23 home runs and 58 runs batted in while hitting a solid .277 in 90 games this season for the New York Yankees.
This includes a mind-boggling three home run game on Saturday against the Minnesota Twins. One of which (the third one), had WFAN’s John Sterling getting nuttier than usual.
Today, on this Monday, he celebrates his 40th birthday.
A-Rod has simply marveled us with his performance this season. He’s even shut up the Yankees organization as it pertained to the marketing money clause in his contract. Somehow – after being dubbed the enemy heading into Spring Training – he’s now one of their native sons.
While the turnaround has been a phenomenal feat in itself, a more important question needs to be asked.
How in the world is Rodriguez doing this? Have you seen the absolute moon-shots this guy has been hitting? Is this the same person who couldn’t even turn on a fastball a couple seasons back?
The overwhelming sentiment is one that revolves around A-Rod’s brilliance. He’s one of the best hitters of all-time, and due to the fact he’s well rested coming off a year-long suspension, he’s feeling great and is magically back to his old Hall of Fame-type form.
Another idea involves Derek Jeter’s absence. Many theorize that, despite their strong relationship back in the day, Rodriguez feels less stress and pressure when the Yankee Captain isn’t around. Their unusual and strained relationship has always been a staring narrative in the Bronx since 2004, and truly, the only great season with the two together was 2009.
Alex Rodriguez on Saturday: second player to have 3 420-foot HRs in a game in last 5 seasons. Other: Miguel Cabrera pic.twitter.com/oxpfcSOD3N
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 26, 2015
The final positive line of thought about A-Rod’s resurgence has to do with him playing without the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Entering the 2009 season, Rodriguez had been outed for PED use for the first time. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), he played his best October baseball for New York that very same season.
Could it possibly be just the fact all of his cares wash away when the world knows his dirty, dark secret?
Entering 2015 the same dark idea was playing out; and look what he’s done.
Craig Carton of WFAN’s Boomer and Carton Show made a statement on Monday morning that had many almost falling out of their chairs.
He proclaimed that A-Rod is making everybody realize that Steroids/PEDs do very little for the hitter in baseball. Through his brilliance this season, Rodriguez is basically showing everybody what he can do while clean.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, your name might be Alex Rodriguez.
If anything from this guy’s history suggests anything, it’s that you must expect the unexpected. Nobody knows whether this guy is clean or not at the moment, and to suggest that he is clean is one of the more irresponsible acts in sports media.
With the fact that sports medicine is always one step ahead of the tests, baseball players can easily choose to take something that is completely masked. That is, if they choose to do so.
As far as PEDs doing very little by way of helping baseball players, the evidence is overwhelming to the contrary. During the late 1980s and through the 1990s MLB went through its most explosive offensive production in its history.
This was capped off in 1999 as baseball hit .271 with 1.14 home runs per team every game. The home run total still remains a record and the batting average was the highest since 1939’s mark of .275.
Now, after a decade-plus effort to rid the game of PEDs, baseball hit .251 with .086 home runs a team per game in 2014. The batting average marked the lowest since 1972 and this low home run production hadn’t been seen since 1992.
There are no secrets: steroids help offense.
So, while the entire landscape of baseball is dropping in numbers, Alex Rodriguez is spiking at age 40.
It’s completely understandable for the topic to suddenly become taboo. Everybody is “steroided” out and to point the finger at a guy when no evidence exists is an impossibility in today’s day and age.
However, this doesn’t mean it’s time to call Alex Rodriguez clean.
There is too much from the man’s history to suggest he’s above suspicion. Perhaps he’s at the point in his career where he’s playing for the true love the game, and flawlessly producing because of it.
Or, perhaps he’s thrown his hands up in the air and said “screw it, I’ll continue to use PEDs because at this point it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m not getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame regardless, so let’s march on.”
Either way, both scenarios are completely real and it’s irresponsible for anybody to believe either one 100 percent of the way.
Hopefully, for Rodriguez and Yankees fans, he is doing all of this with a clean conscience.
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Photo by Keith Allison