Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Devil's Advocate: Alex Rodriguez

In this week's edition of the "Devil's Advocate" we stand up for free agent third baseman and the poster boy for money-grubbing athletes everywhere, Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez.

It's easy to hate on A-Rod right now, there's no question about that. Us normal human beings can't wrap our brains around the thought of opting out of a contract with $72 million in guaranteed money tied to it, but when you're the best baseball player on the planet, backed by arguably the most powerful man in baseball, you can do that.

Sure it was cheezy for him to basically quit over voicemail and the timing of the announcement left something to be desired with the World Series going on, but consider that on the same day the Minnesota Twins announced they were picking up the option on closer Joe Nathan and no one bashed the timing of that.

It's a bit of an apples and oranges argument I know, but is it A-Rod's fault that he is who he is and that somewhere along the way someone decided to make him the highest paid player in he game? Last I checked no one stood over Texas Rangers' management with a loaded pistol when they first signed A-Rod to the 10-year $252 million deal.

Is the money out of control in professional sports? The answer is a resounding yes. However the numbers aren't going to come down any time soon and I can't bring myself to criticize a person for getting as much out of their personal situation as they can. I'm guessing if someone plunked down $25 million per year in front of you, you'd take it and run with no thought of whether you were worth it or not.

Which brings me to my next point on A-Rod which is the fact that he is the only player in the game today you could argue is worth that kind of money. Take away all the excess stuff that comes along with being A-Rod and what you have left is one hell of a baseball player.

Over his 14 year career A-Rod is averaging 44 homeruns, 128 RBIs and a .967 OPS. Those are numbers that place him among the five or ten best players in the history of the game. The best player of my generation, Barry Bonds, has averaged 41 HRs, 108 RBIs and a .742 OPS in his glorious career.

Ask yourself how differently you would view A-Rod if instead of being traded to the Yankees in 2004, he ended up with the Boston Red Sox and helped lead them to their first World Series since 1918. Don't forget that a deal for A-Rod to join the Red Sox was all but done until it fell through at the last minute.

Would you hate him so much if he wasn't the richest player playing for the richest team? Will you hate him as much now that he's destined for a team not nicknamed the "Evil Empire"?

I seem to remember A-Rod being little more than an afterthought as he toiled away in Texas. Sure his contract was big news, but the harsh glare of the New York spotlight seemed to add a certain venom to most people's opinions of the talented superstar.

So stop hating on A-Rod America, he's just a guy trying to make an honest living after all, and you can't knock a guy for that.

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