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Sports Then and Now

Alex Rodriguez Disaster Takes Focus Off The Field

Posted on August 10, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Alex Rodriguez has struggled in his return to the field.

Alex Rodriguez has struggled in his return to the field.

For all who simply want to talk more sports, the Alex Rodriguez debacle has not been good. Since the one-time sure Hall of Famer has become the latest poster child for the PED era in baseball, performance on the field of play has been overshadowed by the growing circus off the diamond.

It is hard to believe that just five years ago Rodriguez was seen as the savior who would save the baseball world from the “tainted” star who “stole” the home run record from Hank Aaron.

Now, Rodriguez is quickly replacing Barry Bonds and former pitcher Roger Clemens as the face of the steroids era.

Where once he was pointed out as the prototype for the 21st Century baseball star, there now seems to be enough doubt to wonder if Rodriguez was instead the 21st Century version of a test tube star. In recent weeks some have wondered if even the young Alex Rodriguez who emerged as a star at the age of 20 with the Seattle Mariners could have been enhanced through artificial means.

In hindsight, it could be considered a little fishy that Rodriguez hit .232 with five home runs and 19 RBI in 149 at bats in 1995 and then the following year won the AL batting title with a .358 average, 36 home runs and 125 RBI.

The following season he hit .300 with 23 home runs and 84 RBI, but starting in 1998 Rodriguez hit at least 30 home runs and drove in at least 100 runs every year for the next 13 seasons. During that time, he blasted at least 40 home runs eight times with three seasons of more than 50 homers. He also hit .300 or better seven times and never had a season with an average below .285.

From the day in 2009 when he first admitted to taking some type of PED while playing for the Texas Rangers, things have never been exactly the same for the three-time MVP and 14-time All-Star.

Though his admissions in 2009 were vague and seemed forced, it seemed for a while that he was going to get a pass from fans and even the baseball media.

Given his shady history with steroids, it is now unreasonable to question whether Alex Rodriguez used performance enhancements when he emerged as a star with the Seattle Mariners.

Given his shady history with steroids, it is now unreasonable to question whether Alex Rodriguez used performance enhancements when he emerged as a star with the Seattle Mariners.

He was hailed as a conquering hero in 2009 when he helped the Yankees win their first World Series title in nine seasons. He hit .365 during the post season with six home runs and 18 RBIs and many were quick to vindicate Rodriguez after he had previously been labeled as a player who wilted under the spotlight.

But injuries in 2011 and 2012 seemed to signal the start of a decline for the slugger and called into play the lack of wisdom when the Yankees extended his contract in 2008 for 10 years and more than $270 million dollars.

Then earlier this year Rodriguez’s connection to PED’s came back into question when he was directly linked to the Biogenesis clinic. It soon became clear that while Rodriguez had claimed he took steroids only between 2001 and 2003, there was evidence that suggested he was using human growth hormone much later in his career.

While 13 other players involved with Biogenesis have accepted suspensions, Rodriguez was punished four-times as long as the others. According to MLB, Rodriguez was punished not just for steroid use, but also for hindering the investigation and other things that have been speculated within the media, but not officially announced.

Now that he has officially appealed his 211-game suspension and has recovered from his off-season hip surgery, Rodriguez is hoping to return focus to the field. However, he will have to step things up compared to his first four games in the majors this season. Rodriguez has hit only .200 (3-for-15) with no extra base hits.

Whether the decline of A-Rod is a result of natural aging or an inability to perform without using some performance enhancing drug, there is no question that he is now making many more headlines for things happening off the field than for his play on it.

Cole Ryan is a guest writer from, follow him daily sports news, picks and tips on Twitter at @coleryan9

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