Giglio: Alex Rodriguez — An Underdog Story
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By Joe Giglio
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Since the moment Alex Rodriguez launched home runs and rocketed laser beams off fellow South Florida high school pitchers in the early 90s, the words “A-Rod” and “underdog” have rarely, if ever, been used together.
From the hiring of Scott Boras to No. 1 overall draft pick in 1993 to superstardom in Seattle to shattering contract records in Texas to multiple MVP awards, Alex Rodriguez isn’t the symbol for the underdog in all of us, especially in light of his admission in 2009 to performance enhancing drugs. For the average fan, it’s impossible to comprehend a player with that much talent, fame and credentials doing anything close to illegal.
Yet, despite the ups and downs of Rodriguez across the better part of two decades, he’s correct in his self-assessment to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. On Thursday, in the midst of his rehab assignment in Charleston, South Carolina, Rodriguez sat down for an interview with the long-time baseball scribe. Among many details about his injury, rehab, desire to play again for the Yankees and innocence until proven guilty in the latest war on baseball drugs, this nugget emerged from the beleaguered third baseman.
“For the first time in my baseball career, even back to the days I was a teenager,” Rodriguez said to Nightengale, “the deck is stacked against me. There are so many people that are betting against me. So many people have put the nail in the coffin. I really feel that.”
Despite the vitriol that emerges from New York when Rodriguez’s name is spoke, the soon-to-be 38-year-old is right.
In this instance, debating the merits of his inclusion on the Yankees roster, tie-in with the Biogenesis scandal, second hip surgery in four years and how his 2012 campaign ended, Alex Rodriguez is an underdog.
At this point, finding a focus group of Rodriguez supporters would be nearly impossible. Fans can be fickle, but judging by Brian Cashman’s vulgar outburst at a innocuous Rodriguez tweet, the few individuals in the pro-Rodriguez camp likely don’t reside within the Yankees offices.
Comparing his injury to former stars with hip ailments (Albert Belle, Bo Jackson), let alone multiple hip surgeries, leads to severe doubts that the former star can even be a league average player in 2013 and beyond.
Assessing his contract and future with the ballclub is an arduous task, complicated by the ludicrous amount of money owed to an aging star, almost certain to fail to live up to the expectations placed upon him.
Few believe in Alex Rodriguez’s ability to come back from his battle with age, injury and Bud Selig. For a player that has always clearly craved attention, support and admiration, even fewer seem to be rooting for the comeback story, regardless of how his game can still help the Yankees achieve success in 2013.
Hearing A-Rod call himself anything other than “entitled” and “spoiled” is likely to enrage a segment of the media that uses him as easy column fodder, but in this instance, underdog is the perfect moniker to assign.
In the past, Rodriguez was so gifted, so talented and so far above his peers that a large segment of fans could only harp on the few times he failed to even out the many, many times he succeeded.
Now, it’s the opposite. The 2013 version of Alex Rodriguez, along with his fragile, battered team, is expected to fail.
If he succeeds, the latest chapter of the Yankees-Rodriguez marriage will be the most unpredictable of them all.
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