13 Reasons Yankees Fans Should Be Glad To Have A-Rod Back
Haters gonna hate, and that's totally fine. If you are a Red Sox, Orioles or Mets fan, I can see your joy in trying to boo Alex Rodriguez back into his 2014 banishment from Major League Baseball.
However, if you are a fan of the New York Yankees, so foolishly inclined to taunt and degrade your highest paid slugger, I urge you to take a long, deep breath and remember how truly impressive Alex's accomplishments have been since he arrived in the Bronx.
Is his contract (10 years/$252.87 million) a bit outrageous for a player who is in the twilight of his career, and will be 42 years old when said contract expires after the 2017 season?
Probably, but it was the Yankees who outbid only themselves to retain A-Rod's services for the remainder of his career, offering him far more than any other franchise so he would be wearing pinstripes as he continued his assault on the record books.
Are all of the PED accusations, and the season-long suspension for being involved with the Biogenesis scandal, a black eye for Alex and the Yankees? Perhaps.
But, if you are a Gen-Y baseball fan, you were most likely drawn to the game as a youngster, watching the likes of Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa.
Quads and biceps bulged out of their uniforms as they mashed pitches into orbit in pursuit of Roger Maris' single-season home run record.
You will remember a fiery Roger Clemens lighting up the radar gun with 98 mph fastballs on his way to a record seven Cy Young Awards.
You will remember the bedlam in Boston when the big bats of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz finally broke the curse of the Bambino in 2004.
And, certainly, you will remember the game's all-time greatest slugger, Barry Bonds, filling McCovey Cove with baseballs on his way to a record 762 career home runs.
So, do you recognize that all of these legends of our youth, as well as hundreds of their lesser peers, were also alleged PED users?
And, for my fellow Yankee fans who scoff at the notion of a ballplayer tarnishing the pinstripes, please recall that one of our “Core Four” players from the recent championship years, Andy Pettitte, is an admitted PED user. Nobody seems to have a problem looking the other way in his case.
Now, in honor of the number on his back, here are 13 reasons Yankee fans should be glad they have had the services of Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez.
1. Two MVPs
Alex won the American League MVP for the second time in 2005, then again in 2007, both while playing for the Yanks (he previously won the 2003 AL MVP while with Texas).
Despite all the great Yankee teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s, he was the first Bronx Bomber to win the award since Don Mattingly in 1985.
2. Mixing it up with the Red Sox
Ever since joining the Yankees, Alex has been able to spice up the series with rival Red Sox.
On more than one occasion, interactions between A-Rod and his opponents in Boston have incited bench-clearing brawls, which is just what fans want to see when it's a Yanks-Sox matchup.
3. He moved over to third base
At the time the Yankees acquired Alex from the Texas Rangers, he was widely considered the best shortstop in the game, both offensively and defensively.
Of course, the Yankees shortstop at the time was already a Bronx legend (Derek Jeter, you might have heard of him), and as not to step on the Captain's toes, A-Rod quite willingly and effectively made the transition to third base.
4. He loves playing baseball
A-Rod, for all of his flaws, is a die-hard student of the game.
He watches all of his games over and over to see what he can improve upon, as well as watching as many other games from around the league he can. He tirelessly studies opposing pitching staffs and he is a savvy base runner.
5. He was caught sunbathing in Central Park in 2006, just like your average New Yorker.
6. 500 HRs
On August 4, 2007, Alex, at 32 years and eight days, became the youngest ever, and 22nd overall, member of the prestigious 500 career home run club. He joins Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle as the only Yankees in the club.
7. Career milestones
Alex is currently the MLB's active leader in games played (2,575), hits (2,945), extra base hits (1,206), runs scored (1,922), total bases (5,491), runs batted in (1,975) and, of course, home runs (655).
He is one of only eight players in the history of the game with 600-plus homers, and with six more, he will pass Willie Mays and stand alone in fourth place on the all-time list, which is likely to happen sometime this summer.
He is also likely to join the 3,000-hit club later this season, and when he does, he will join Mays and Hank Aaron as only the third player in MLB history to record 3,000-plus hits and 600-plus home runs.
8. There was this picture from a 2009 photo shoot with Details magazine
9. The 2009 playoffs
The old Yankee Stadium was nicknamed the “House that Ruth Built” due to the heroic accolades and championships that baseball's first great slugger, Babe Ruth, brought to the Bronx.
Well, the new stadium, which opened in 2009, should be known as the “House that A-Rod Built” for the way he put the team on his back during the playoffs and led the Yankees to their most recent World Series ring during the building's inaugural season.
10. Admitting PED use
Alex did admit to taking steroids between 2001 and 2003, while he was a member of the Texas Rangers.
He also penned a handwritten letter this offseason “taking full responsibility for the actions that led to [his] suspension for the 2014 season,” and apologizing to the MLB, the Yankees, the Steinbrenner family, the Players Association and the fans.
11. That time he was getting fed popcorn by Cameron Diaz at the Super Bowl
12. Humble comeback from suspension
After being banned from baseball for the entire 2014 season, there was a lot of talk that Alex's return in 2015 would only be a distraction for the Yankees during spring training.
There were even rumors the team was desperately trying to figure out ways to cut ties with him and keep him away.
Manager Joe Girardi said straight up that A-Rod would not be given a starting spot and he would have to earn playing time. When Alex arrived in March, he did just that.
He didn't make a scene; he got down to business and was one of the team's most productive players in camp, earning an everyday spot in the lineup, and he has been one of their most important players in the early part of the regular season.
13. He is one of the greatest to ever play the game
Love him; hate him; call him what you like. But, take a look at his statistics, accolades and records, and respect the fact that Alex is one of the best players in the history of Major League Baseball.
Period, end of story.