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Saturday, October 27, 2012

MAYBE ALEX RODRIGUEZ PEAKED TOO EARLY

I have been thinking a lot lately about ARod... with all the headlines, I can’t imagine why!  Alex Rodriguez began a very fast race to the top and a rather steady decline thereafter.  You know when young people get married, many naysayers contribute their two cents with comments like- “Why don’t you just wait?  You have plenty of time to get married.”  Why am I comparing ARod to a couple getting married, you ask?  I’m not really, but I am making an observation about his early rise to the majors and perhaps, maybe Alex Rodriguez just peaked a little too soon.  Maybe he is truthfully past his prime. 

Unlike his teammate Derek Jeter, who peaked a lot later in his career and even star pitcher Justin Verlander who can throw harder and faster in the later innings, Alex Rodriguez has been on an elevator going down for sometime and fans have been disappointed with him long before the 2012 season.
Alex Rodriguez played his first game in the majors at 18-years-old.  And ever since that time, the pressure began to mount for the young player.  He was signing big contracts only six years later and with the big money came big criticism, scrutiny, and yes, a big ego.  In 2001 he signed a contract with the Texas Rangers worth $250 million and in 2007 he signed with the Yankees, making him the highest paid player in baseball.

A close friend of mine told me a story recently about someone she knew that dated ARod.  She was sitting in the front seat of his car and he asked her to get something from the glove compartment in front of her.  There she caught a glimpse of his paycheck and apologized for peaking.  He reassured her that it was OK to look, that she and most of the people she knew would never see that kind of money in their lifetime.  They say money and fame changes you- and one would hope for the better, but usually this comment is meant negatively. 

Alex Rodriguez may not have been emotionally ready for all of the fame and fortune he received so quickly.  And he needed something other than adrenaline, to keep up with the on field goals and off-field girl friends.  According to the New York Times article (HERE) from October 25th, “Rodriguez said he and a cousin had obtained the drugs (steroids) legally in the Dominican Republic and injected them for an energy boost. Rodriguez said he injected himself with the drug twice a month for six months a year, yet said he did not know if he was using it properly or whether it was safe.”  Of course, it was his choice to use, but he may not have really understood what he was doing, only that he needed to keep playing hard and he needed to produce.  Alex, you can’t be 18 forever- you can’t dial back the hands of time.  And we all know that steroids can age you, age your muscles, and age you mentally.  But, ARod was living in the moment.  He needed to keep up.  He needed to be great.  His fans expected it, his team expected it, and he expected it.
Soon after the end of the post season for the Yankees, Alex made it very clear, in an article in the New York Daily News (HERE), what his intentions are for the 2013 season,  “I love New York City, and I love everything about being a Yankee. The highs are very high, and the lows are extremely low. But I’ve never thought about going to another team. My focus is on staying here. Let’s make that very, very clear. No. 2, I don’t expect to be mediocre. I expect to do what I’ve done for a long time.” But is he capable?  Is he just past his prime?  Are the reoccurring injuries part of the long time steroid use or a sign that it is time to give up? 

According to the USA TODAY article (HERE) “Nightengale: ARod likely a Bronx goner, former Texas Rangers GM, Doug Melvin, who signed ARod to his first big contract in 2000 stated, 'When a player gets to the age of 32 to 34,' Melvin said, 'you start to get concerned about the age factor. You start to see injuries. And if they're locked into a long-term deal, those contracts are very hard to walk away from.'"

So, Alex Rodriguez who peaked early, hit for power for many years including during his prime years of 25 to 31-years-old and became the 7th youngest player to join the 600 home run club in 2010, may need to just go quietly into the night.  He may be called on to pinch hit, he may be traded, he may pick up ladies while he sits on the bench, but he was good when he was young-but those days may be over.  And that’s not his fault.  He may have just not been worth the money this late in his career and if that was the case, maybe we wouldn't be so disappointed.

My observation? We need to lay off him a bit and see if he can recover physically and mentally from this doomsday atmosphere he is so glued to right now.  And hey, you never know, maybe the old guy still has a little bit left in the tank since being humbled by the fact that he is not as good as he once was.



--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Opinion Columnist
Twitter: @suzieprof




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