As my computer hits auto-send on this article, the New York Yankees are taking the field against Tampa Bay, and Alex Rodriguez, A-Rod, will be soon stepping up for his last at bats in major league baseball.
Michael Dougherty, over at The Week, says that A-Rod deserved better than the fan hatred that followed him throughout his career. He’s wrong.
Fan dislike of Alex Rodriguez started in Seattle, when he left the Mariners for league rivals Texas in 2001. He may have loved baseball, as Dougherty claims, but if so it was a love of the mechanics and of the playing rather than love of the game, writ large.
Seattle gave him his start, gave him his nickname, and made him the star player of the team. Everybody loved him. At the end of the 2000 season, he became a free agent and left the Mariners, turning down extremely large amounts of money, to go with the Texas Rangers for an obscene amount of money.
The Mariners fans never forgave him. Ever after, he was booed at every appearance at SafeCo Field, and fans were continually floating paper money down onto the field.
You see, in going for the money, A-Rod turned his back on an outstanding team, one that had made it to the ALCS in 2000 and was slated to make it again in 2001, to go with a team that was mediocre before he got there (71 wins in 2000), and was still mediocre (73 wins in 2001) even with his star presence.
Meanwhile, the Mariners were racking up a historic 116 wins in the 2001 season. Yes, they fell apart in the ALCS, but does anyone doubt that if A-Rod had stayed they’d have taken the the ALCS and then possibly the World Series? He turned his back on a winning team for what? For money.
So A-Rod deserves it. It’s not hatred, Mr. Dougherty, it’s contempt.