Apologists Fail To Realize Yankees' Slugger Is Past The Point Of Total Forgiveness

By Jason Keidel
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He was the American boy playing the American game.

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We remember him when he was young and beautiful and perfect. We remember the awestruck scouts saying he was a beast, blessed with that flawless athletic gene. If he hadn’t played baseball he could’ve been a quarterback or wideout or linebacker or power forward or anything he wanted.

Alex Rodriguez was the American Dream.

We bought the whole thing, the Roy Hobbs angle, a young man dealt a bad deck of cards but who still rode that train to the majors. We could understand that his checkered past was a product of his freckled soul. He had no father, no male monolith in his life. He had the youth and raw innocence and transcendent talent, and an understandable mass of conflicting impulses.

And he blew it.

More than once.

What is lost on the A-Rod Apologist, shrieking in indignity over the All-Star snub, is that he’s blown past the point of total forgiveness. He’s not entitled to anything. Not applause, cash, cachet, or the Hall of Fame. Not even the All-Star Game. He sacrificed aesthetic grace for athletic glory. People faced with more adversity have made better decisions, and players with way less talent have refused to take PEDs.

Just because we leaned toward forgiveness doesn’t mean the needle will ever bend near redemption. Fans take an inch and stretch it a yard, assuming we will just forget his malfeasance and mendacity.

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Perhaps if he’d kept his transgressions to Texas, as he once asserted, and played in pinstripes sans steroids, brought clean veins to the game from 2004 forward, then our inherent ADD would kick in and regard him as a petty baseball thief, who succumbed to the peer pressures of the steroid era, then had his epiphany. The world would have swept it under the media rug. Had he kept his malfeasance to Texas, it would now be a 10-year-old story in a world that can barely remember 10-day-old stories.

Everyone is shocked to see the season A-Rod is having. Not even his most jaded devotees saw this coming. Assuming he’s clean — not as facile as folks might think — then his stats and resurgence should be its own reward. And for those who can’t fathom his absence from the game, please remember he doesn’t even play the field. Just the fact that he contended for an All-Star slot says a lot.

Then we have the hyperbole of an ESPY. The ESPN equivalent of the Oscars, A-Rod has been nominated for Comeback Player of the Year. A bit dubious? Yeah. It shows how far we’ve fallen toward the other side, or at least the media and some select Fan Guys.

Maybe you’re not the metaphysical sort. Perhaps you view the world through Spock’s prism, in a strict, scientific sense. Everything is empirical. If you can’t see it, touch it, prove it, then it doesn’t exist. Black and white to the bone. If so, then A-Rod should be Exhibit A in the karmic tax department. People say A-Rod shouldn’t be snubbed because he’s loathed. If that’s the case, then Derek Jeter, Dale Murphy, or Cal Ripken shouldn’t get votes because they are loved.

There have been countless players, in all sports, who made an extra All-Star game or two based on legacy more than current performance. If you surrender the vote to fans, then fans will act like, well fans. A vote against an aging A-Rod is no more wrong than a vote for a decaying Reggie Jackson.

Personality is part of the equation, even in sports, where we measure men by numerical metrics — hits, runs, touchdowns and dollars. We take a binary approach to athletes, often projecting cherished qualities based on production.

So even if he’s physically there, he’s metaphysically skewed. The same rules apply to all stars and All-Stars. And because of his actions, he’s morphed from a cult of personality to a casualty of it.

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Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel