“You always think you have one more hit in you.” ~ Alex Rodriguez
Sure, the 2016 season has and will see several retirements, some more heartbreaking than others: Adam LaRoche, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, and David Ortiz. The one that makes me saddest of all, however, is Alex Rodriguez’ retirement.
Today is A-Rod’s last game as a New York Yankee. Much will be written about A-Rod’s retirement over the next few days and months as many will ponder: why it happened now, whether or not it was fair, and whether this is really the end of A-Rod’s playing career. While I never was much of a Yankees fan, I’ve adopted A-Rod over the past few years. In fact, it’s been four years since A-Rod was benched during the 2012 playoffs. Though I was rooting for my O’s in the ALCS, I still felt bad for A-Rod. (I even attempted to start a “#LetA-RodPlay” hashtag thing on Twitter, but it never caught on.)
In fact, as the week has worn on, criticizing A-Rod has seemed to have been replaced with reluctant acceptance of his impact on the game to downright sympathy. Here are links to a few of the most interesting commentary:
- New York Times, Tyler Kepner, “Alex Rodriguez Remains a Lightning Rod Until the Very End”
- The Undefeated, Ryan Cortes, “Alex Rodriguez’s Lonely, Unfair Farewell”
- ESPN, Dave Shoenfield, “Five Ways Alex Rodriguez changed the Game”
- New York Daily News, Mark Feinsand, “Anonymous All-Star questions why Alex Rodriguez is being treated differently than Mark Teixeira”
- Sporting News, Jesse Spector, “Why your take on A-Rod and his retirement sucks”
What’s more interesting, perhaps, is what his colleagues and peers think of him:
- “Alex was one of the greatest young players I think baseball will ever see again,” Chris Bosio, Chicago Cubs pitching coach
- “He’s always going to surrounded somewhat by controversy, but I saw a really good baseball player with enormous ability,” Joe Maddon, Cubs Manager
- “I am going to miss what he brought to the table. I enjoyed him in the clubhouse, I enjoyed the effort he always gave me, the help he gave me, he was always a guy who loved to work, loved to learn, I didn’t really consider him a superstar for the fact he was always more of a blue-collar type guy,” Kevin Long, New York Mets hitting coach
- “A very smart baseball guy. The things he talked about on a baseball level probably the best and intriguing out of all the guys I ever played with. It was not always about him, just about the team or individual pitchers, other guys on the team, guys we were about to play,” Curtis Granderson, New York Mets
- “Best player in the game for a long. Thank him for everything he did because he set the bar high for a lot of guys,” Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
- “When you get to know A-Rod, he’s a special person, special teammate, & one of my favorite teammates of all-time,” Johnny Damon
- “He was a great teammate. Passionate about the game of baseball, passionate about winning,” Carlos Beltran
And how do his current teammates feel?
- “I think everyone is going to be a little emotional on Friday because Alex has meant so much for this organization…I think there’s only one other guy I’ve ever met that likes to talk about baseball more than Alex, and that’s Cal Ripken (Jr)…And we’re going to support Alex every step of the way,” Mark Teixeira
- “Al’s probably the best player of my generation… He was a great teammate. He’s been nothing but helpful to me since I’ve been here. And his baseball mind is unbelievable,” CC Sabathia
- “Alex always has been great to me over the years…and a good teammate. It’s sad to see how it’s all gone down. I’m not going to get a chance to play with him anymore, and that sucks,” Brett Gardner
I will miss A-Rod. But I’m sure this won’t be the last we’ll hear from him.
Happy retirement, Alex!