Yes, you read that right. After attending his most recent event with Mariano Rivera - Reflections on Baseball and Business, I have decided to reconsider my feelings on Alex Rodriguez. Maybe it is his contrition or the transparency with which he reflected on his life, his accomplishments, and his priorities, but this is a guy that I can get behind. By now my friends are thinking that my account has been hacked. Keep reading.
I sat in the audience with some good friends listening to Alex Rodriguez answer question about his life, his playing career, and his charities. When the topic of his suspension came up, I expected the same rehearsed speech - he's served his time, he's glad it's over, he's happy to playing baseball again. It's a common refrain from people who express regret over a misdeed but sound sorrier that they got caught than about what got them in trouble in the first place. Either they minimize the misdeed (it's not a big deal, it's in the past, I'm here to talk about the future, etc.) or they vilify their prosecutors (it was a witch hunt, it's part of a vast conspiracy, etc.). Here is what Alex said about how he handled his conflicts with MLB and the MLBPA:
"I created this incredible hole for myself. You wish you could blame those guys, the advisors, and lawyers, but at the end of the day, I had to look in the mirror and realize that this is on me. I am the quarterback of this team [of advisors and lawyers]. I put this team together. I made every decision. It was on me. I have to own it. Once I took full control and responsibility [for] all my poor decisions, then I felt the healing process began."
He went on regarding the suspension:
"The time off, the suspension that I served, ... that whole Biogenesis scandal is single-handedly the best, greatest thing that ever happened in my life. Because it gave me an opportunity to take stock [of] my life, to look in the mirror, and realize that you responsible and accountable for everything you do. Every decision you make. The other thing was ... no matter what I had to face in New York, or the media, or my teammates, it was the one conversation I had to have with my daughters about a month before Spring Training. I thought about this talk for like four months. We did four months of waking up and actually rehearsing what I'm gonna tell my daughters. Fortunate for me, Cynthia - my ex-wife, their mother - is an incredible lady and a very good friend. She has her Masters in Psychology, she and I together ... she kind of got me through that ... I broke down and it was a very emotional talk. I didn't know what they would say. The truth of the matter is if they said 'Dad, we want you to stop playing baseball', that would have been it for me."
On watching the Yankees on TV:
"I would wake up at night sometimes in the middle of the night at 4 o'clock in the morning and I would see my team playing in New York or Oakland or the Rangers. It was so painful to watch on TV and I'm looking up at the ceiling kind of wondering 'How in the world did I put myself in this mess? What have I done to myself?' It was incredibly painful."
"Obviously I have incredible, incredible regrets. I wish I would have made better decisions. I will say this. You don't have to be defined by all of your mistakes. How you come back matters too. I think we can all take that to heart."
At this point, I got to see a broken person who realized that he screwed up badly and is trying to work his way towards redemption. People caught in a mess usually have a PR-inspired speech, a mea culpa, disappear for a while, then come back good as new. The fact that he had to have the hard conversation with his kids. his family, then his teammates, it cost him something. I left with the impression that this was genuine.
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: MENTOR. I had hoped that he was being genuine. I am more convinced today than I was then. Now I am rethinking my opinion on the letter he wrote to the fans. I am reading it and it matches exactly what he's saying and what he's been doing. Everybody makes mistakes - EVERYBODY. Not everybody has every major sports network pointing a camera at them.
We got to see an ugly side of baseball through the controversies and missteps of ARod. First there were the allegations, being lumped in with Barry Bonds, and Mark McGwire. Then there was The List of 2003, where his name was leaked to the press as having tested positive for steroids. That was followed by the Mitchell Report in 2007, where his name was not mentioned in the report, but by then he was already the face of PED usage. Finally, there was Biogenesis and Anthony Bosch. That resulted in a 211 game suspension which was reduced to a 162 game suspension for the entire 2014 season, but not before his public image was destroyed in the midst of lawsuits against Major League Baseball and the Players Union. Making mistakes, trying to cover them up with bigger mistakes, this had been the hallmark of Alex Rodriguez's career. Finally, it looks like he's coming around.
In conclusion, I have to say that I expect some folks to think this is a bunch of crap. This is America - you're entitled to your opinion. I'm not ready to accept fully his career milestone numbers. He still made those mistakes. If he's being genuine, he'll understand why some of us feel that way. To tell you the truth, I couldn't care less about his stellar 2015 season as it pertains to him as a person. Instead, I'm looking at the man admitting his mistakes, doing his best to make it right. Isn't that what we want people to aspire to? That's what I tell my kids to do when they screw up. Do I dare use the phrase "Role Model"??? For owning up and taking responsibility, absolutely. And no, my account was not hacked.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row
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