A few years ago, Alex Rodriguez threw a conniption fit and, in the words of Bleacher Report writer Scott Miller, “was ready to torch and burn” the Yankees, Major League Baseball and the players’ union when they wanted to suspend him for using performance-enhancing drugs. After months of denying and digging his heels in, though, Rodriguez finally took his year-long suspension.
His retirement pill went down with much less of a fight.
Indeed, Rodriguez, 41, announced his retirement Sunday and will play his final game this Friday at Yankee Stadium against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I think the biggest surprise is that when Hal Steinbrenner went to him on Wednesday and basically started an exit-interview discussion that Alex was amenable to figuring out a way to go gracefully rather than to yell and scream like we’ve seen from Alex Rodriguez in the past,” Miller said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “His career’s done. He’s 3-for-30 since the All-Star break. He’s hitting .151 against relief pitchers. He’s not hitting much of anybody or anything. Joe Girardi has not put him in the lineup lately. It’s clear the Yankees are going younger. They traded Aroldis Chapman, they traded Andrew Miller (and) Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira retired. So I think they basically cornered A-Rod. He essentially got released. That was the most grand press conference I’ve ever seen for a guy that had gotten released where nobody’s admitting he got released. They’re framing it like he’s retiring or walking away on his own, and he got pushed.”
Rodriguez, who last year hit 33 home runs – his most since 2008 – is hitting just .204 with nine home runs in 62 games this season. Still, he is a career .295 hitter with 696 home runs.
“One of the greatest hitters we’ve ever seen,” Miller said. “But I think Alex Rodriguez took more from the game of baseball than he gave, which I think is kind of a sad legacy. You’d like to discuss him as one of the all-time greats – and he was one of the all-time great hitters. But he not only went into the steroid pool once, but twice, at least. . . . He leaves one of the most complicated legacies of any player ever.”
Rodriguez also leaves as perhaps the most hated player since Barry Bonds. In fact, Rodriguez and Bonds, one could argue, are the two most reviled players in MLB history.
But which is the bigger villain?
“I think you’d have to say Barry Bonds is the bigger villain simply because he used performance-enhancing drugs to blow past Hank Aaron,” Miller said. “I think the fact that Barry Bonds is the all-time home run leader and single-season record holder, the way Bonds imprinted his name all over the record books, I think you look at it and say Bonds is the bigger villain. But I think A-Rod might have been the bigger phony because he (admitted it), had the big mea culpa and then he went back into it.”