Sunday, May 29, 2011
Is it time to finally forgive A-Rod?
The fans were hurt when he left us for a big payday. They couldn't believe how we lost another superstar in this town. After losing in the ALCS fans wondered out loud if he was on the team could we have finally reached a World Series? They couldn't believe how he betrayed the team and held the team hostage. The player I'm talking about of course is Ken Griffey Jr who demanded a trade after the 1999 season despite having one more year left on his contract. Not only did Griffey Jr demand a trade he demanded a trade to only one team which was the Cincinnati Reds. That meant the Reds were in no position to give the Mariners anything close to fair compensation. When the dust had settled Griffey Jr. was traded to the Mariners to be closer to his family(even though he lived in Florida) and the Mariners were robbed. They received Brett Tomko, Mike Cameron and two minor leaguers who never played in the major leagues for them. The Mariners lost that year in the ALCS to the New York Yankees in six games a team Griffey Jr historically has dominated. Yet when Griffey Jr came back to Safeco Field he was given a standing ovation. While Alex Rodriguez despite leaving the team 11 years ago still continues to be loudly booed for doing something everyone would have done in his shoes. So I beg the question when is it time to finally forgive A-Rod and move on?
While with the Seattle Mariners Rodriguez was a four time all-star, batting champion and pulled off the 40/40(40+home runs, 40+ stolen bases) season. While in 1996 Rodriguez finished second in the MVP race where had either Seattle writer voted him first or second he would have won the MVP and again in 2000 he took third in the MVP race. Rodriguez was a key player on two playoff teams including one team that went to the ALCS where he had a good series. The memories he gave the Mariners fans shouldn't go away and I'm happy to say I saw one of the games greatest players of all-time in person on my team. For the Mariners in seven seasons but in reality only five seasons he hit .309/.374/.561 and hit 189 home runs, drove in 595 runs, scored 627 runs and stole 133 bases. In the playoffs he also performed for the Mariners in a playoff loss to the Orioles he hit .313/.313/.563 with a home run back in 1997. Then in 2000 when he was the man against the White Sox he hit .308/.308/.308 with two RBI's in the three game sweep. Then in a loss to the Yankees in the ALCS he hit .409/.480/.773 with two home runs, five RBI's and four runs scored. So Rodriguez was big time for the Mariners as well. I can understand why at first fans were upset with him for leaving as I was too.
I still remember when Rodriguez left the Mariners for division rival Texas Rangers. I was a freshman in high school at the time and it made me so mad that for the third straight year the Mariners lost a future hall of famer. When the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets both pulled out of the Rodriguez sweepstakes I thought for sure he was going to stay in Seattle. Then out of left field the Texas Rangers gave him an offer he couldn't refuse. I was only 15 years old and was a Mariners fan so I couldn't understand the decision at the time. The Mariners offered him three years at 60 million and two option years making it a total of five years for 100 million. Rodriguez would have been a fool to turn down 10 years/252 million dollars making him the highest paid player in sports history. Rodriguez is a guy who grew up poor without a dad, a guy who finished second in the MVP race in 1996 making $442,334.00 so he needed to be paid what he was worth. I can understand the initial anger towards Rodriguez who left the Mariners an ALCS team for a last place Rangers club in our own division. What Rodriguez did was very professional in my opinion unlike the two previous guys who departed the Mariners.
I'll bring up a quick scenario for you guys to judge who truly is the "bad" guy. Player A demanded a trade to only one team and one team only despite still having a year left on his contract. By demanding a trade to only one team that team was forced to receive some crappy pieces. Player B complained his entire last season and underachieved for various reasons. He was even involved in an altercation with a teammate that season. Player C busted his ass to get the Mariners to within two games of the World Series and finished third in the MVP race. Player C didn't let his free agency be a distraction at all and the Mariners received two first round draft picks for him. Now after reading that clearly player C did the Mariners the least amount of wrong even though he is the only one of those three who receives boo's. Player A is Ken Griffey Jr and player B is Randy Johnson for those who couldn't figure it out. Now I'm not saying Rodriguez means more to the franchise than those two because well he doesn't. I'm also not saying you should boo those two either because that is just dumb. I think it's time we finally let it go on Rodriguez who played his heart out for this team. His last game ever as a Mariner in Yankee Stadium in game six of the ALCS he went four for five with a home run. After that game he sat in his locker crying knowing that could have been the last time he ever played for the Mariners. He gave the Mariners everything he could and I wish instead of booing him the fans would cheer him as a sign of thanks.
When Rodriguez makes it to the baseball Hall of Fame he'll go in as a New York Yankee. Whenever they show his highlights though they'll show some of his moments with the Mariners which for a franchise who had nothing going for themselves prior to 1991 is a great thing. When you walk in the Mariners current Hall of Fame you'll see Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, Dave Niehaus and Alvin Davis. Those guys are solid but unless you are from Seattle it shows how bad our franchise is. Eventually you'll see Ken Griffey Jr, Randy Johnson and Ichiro in there which will make our Hall of Fame seem legit. Well if the fans forgave Rodriguez having possibly the all-time Home Run king in our own Hall of Fame would look pretty cool. As long as the fans keep booing him though I doubt the Mariners would risk the PR nightmare of having Rodriguez featured. He will be remembered as a Yankee but he is a hired gun to them. He grew up as a Mariner as the #1 pick coming out of high school, to the kid who scored the tying run in 1995 when David Cone walked Doug Strange, to the man who became the most feared Shortstop hitter in baseball history from 1996-2000. I think time heals all wounds and it's time to stop booing Rodriguez like he personally did something wrong to us.
In conclusion, the Rodriguez who played in Seattle before he became a hollywood type figure in New York was a guy I could respect. He was a guy who worked hard every game, unlike Griffey Jr. on routine groundballs he would always run them out. He didn't care about stats either in game three of the 2000 ALDS against the White Sox he had a sacrifice bunt to move the runner along. His dad walked out on him as a kid and when he became famous his dad wanted to be a part of his life. Rodriguez wanted no part of the man who made life hell on his mom. In fact to this day Rodriguez says he only has one "dad" and his name is Lou Piniella. Rodriguez speaks highly of Piniella, Niehaus and owes his entire career to Edgar Martinez. The Mariners aren't even rivals with the Yankees and Rodriguez has never burned the Mariners in a big playoff game either. He currently has 622 career home runs at 35 years old. There is a very good chance he'll break Barry Bonds career home run record which is 762 home runs. It would be nice if the Mariners can celebrate that moment with Rodriguez. So fans he has been gone for 11 years now. Time to move on and remember the good times he gave the Mariners. I'm just happy and lucky to have watched a player who is as great as he is play for my favorite team. So fans stop booing A-Rod and surprise the nation while cheering him.