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When did A-Rod become a villain?

Aug 1, 2013, 2:20 PM EDT

Alex Rodriguez AP

Joe Posnanski reminds us that Alex Rodriguez was not always baseball’s biggest villain. There was a time when he was seen as not only the game’s best player, but maybe its savior.

Joe walks us through the timeline of A-Rod’s career, but spends extra time focusing on a day in May 2002 when the sky seemed to be the limit:

On that day in May, just more than a decade ago, Alex Rodriguez was unlimited. He was 26 years old. He was a brilliant defensive shortstop. He could draw “oohs” from the crowd by simply throwing a baseball across the diamond — that’s how strong his arm was. He could run. He was a .300 hitter. He was seemingly invulnerable — playing every day.

And he could hit fly balls that just kept going and going and going. He was as thrilling to watch as anyone. We will never know how much of that genius for baseball was his own talent and hard work and how much of it was in the chemicals he injected into his body. The sad part is that most people don’t care to know. They don’t care enough about him to think about it. They just want him to go away.

This morning Kay Adams and I talked about when, exactly, the story changed on Alex Rodriguez. While he has shot himself in the foot repeatedly for ten years, I really do think that the seeds for all of us hating him — or, at the very least, seeing everything he does in the most negative possible light compared to that which other players do — came just before that day in May 2002 Posnanski speaks of:

103 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Sign Ahead - Aug 1, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    For me, A-Rod became a villain…or at least a person I really, really didn’t like…shortly after he moved from Washington to Texas, then made a public statement encouraging Boeing to do the same.

    I remember reading the statement and thinking, “Wow. This guy’s kind of a jerk.”

    It’s been all downhill from there.

    • Old Gator - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:18 PM

      Tell me about it. Another 787 had problems at Heathrow today.

  2. caeser12 - Aug 1, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    When he decided that $250M was enough to leave Seattle.

    • pinkfloydprism - Aug 1, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      We all would have done the same thing. That is generations of family changing $$.

      • km9000 - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        But if A-Rod stayed, he had a good chance to win, and still would’ve been paid pretty well. I… can’t really relate to that with my current job. :-/

      • pinkfloydprism - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:15 PM

        Still, we all think sports stars should never leave for the money, but we do it with our jobs… and they do too.

      • frightwig - Aug 1, 2013 at 11:09 PM

        It wasn’t just that he left to grab the richest contract he could get, but also the way he made his exit.

        First he said that he wanted to stay, but it was important that Seattle would build a winning team around him. Hey, presto! Pat Gillick signed some guys who helped win the wild card, just a half-game back of the A’s for the division title, and reach the ALCS in 2000. So he should be really interested in talking to the club about an extension, right? Ah, no. He rejected the club’s contract offers and requests to negotiate a new deal during the 2000 season, said he’d talk in the Fall.

        As it turned out, his idea of that was to tour the country, making stops in every city where a club had an interest in him–except for Seattle. When he finally had time for the Mariners, he made club officials fly out to meet him in Florida during Christmas vacation, after he had already decided to go to Texas. Later, Boras claimed that because club officials had to leave their vacations in Hawaii to respond to A-Rod’s summons to talk, he took that as proof that the M’s were not serious. There was also a report that A-Rod/Boras had told the M’s that he wanted a 5-7 year deal with an out clause after 3 years; when they brought that offer to him, he said it was unacceptable next to the “security” of the 10 years, with an out clause after 7 years, that Texas offered. Alex never really was interested in negotiating in good faith with Seattle.

        Of course, the guy who said he wanted to play for a winner bolted from a 91-71 team to sign with a club that won 71 games and had the worst pitching in the league the year before. And then there was the douchey press conference when he announced his signing with Texas. Throughout the whole thing, he acted like the manipulative, self-absorbed, two-faced jerk that the whole country later came to know and hate. Seattle just got to see his true character first.

      • Tick - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:51 AM

        I get tired of that defense. Number one, not ALL people would do it and ALL players don’t do it. Look at Felix Hernandez just as a Mariners example. Number two, it’s not always about the leaving, it’s about how they chose to behave while leaving. ARod was classless in the way he acted proceeding and following his departure. ARod has always put on this act of the clueless persecuted guy who has no idea what he did wrong, while constantly acting like a POS.

    • Glenn - Aug 1, 2013 at 9:36 PM

      The Mets got the “hate A-Rod” movement going when they figured that they couldn’t sign him and tried to save face with their fans. They released details of the negotiations in which A-Rod’s agent asked for then ridiculous things (personal masseuse, private jets, private suites, etc.), that made him sound like a spoiled and privileged brat. Most of that stuff is common now or would have been dismissed then as part of negotiating. He then took the richest deal to go to a last place team while his old team won 116 games. I think the slapping of Bronson Arroyo’s glove during the 2004 collapse sealed the deal.

      He was never going to win going to Jeter’s team and everyone forgets that he was willing to take a pay cut to come to Boston and graciously moved to third in deference to a clearly inferior shortstop.

  3. caeser12 - Aug 1, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    When did A-Rod become a villain?

    Or how about, when the Baseball Writers decided they didn’t like him anymore.

  4. Francisco (FC) - Aug 1, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    When did A-Rod become a villain?

    When he killed all those younglings in the Jedi temple.

    • Old Gator - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      I don’t believe it – that nonsense again.

      There is no evidence that the Dark Side deforms the midichlorians. None. I’m getting tired of pointing this out.

      Now pardon me, I’m needed back at the Senate.

  5. texmartin - Aug 1, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    A-Rod and Kobe are two sides of the same coin to me–they’re incredibly gifted players who seem to be more obsessed with their own success–Kobe wants the ring–he’s not playing for LA or his teammates, he so often disparages them–A-Rod was the same regarding the eventual home-run record that a few years ago was almost a given.

    • CyclePower - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:14 PM

      Um….well wanting the ring implies winning a championship. That is the goal in all professional sports, is it not? He could be a great teammate and a fun loving guy who’s great to be around in the locker room, but he’s there to win championships. That should be the objective of everyone else on his team, and if he feels they’re not measuring up, well, he may not be likable, but he is focused on a team oriented goal.

      Big difference between Kobe winning rings and Arod focusing on individual stats if that is, indeed, what Arod’s prime motivator was.

    • Francisco (FC) - Aug 1, 2013 at 6:21 PM

      Need to be careful with that ring obsession. I know of a few folks who went nuts over that stuff, mumbling about “the precious” and all that.

      • CyclePower - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:04 PM

        Calls for a Photoshopped Gollum in a Laker’s #24 jersey

  6. decimusprime - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    He may not have needed them physically, but my guess is that the pressure that comes with a quarter billion dollar contract is pretty heavy. That could easily motivate even the most humble men in the game to try and be the best at everything all the time. He isn’t known for being a mental giant. Now, just a giant cheat.

  7. moogro - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    Wow, the whole thread and no one wants to go there? If I were unpacking the issue, I would say its a blend of a number of things:

    1) One of the first guys that got ridiculous money, signaling the end of the era of any shred of illusions of city loyalty. Resentment, envy, insecurity.

    2) Then stupid media comments, when quiet excellence would have been better.

    3) Bad will increasing as he went to the Yankees qua Yankees

    4) And of course, insecurities that involve race and sexuality, and politics of the body. HIs social life. The steroids. The recent comments here about his “purple lips.” The fear of miscegenation. This photo:

    All play some part.

  8. 1pt12era1968 - Aug 1, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    A-Rod became a villain to me in August 1966 when he told a group of reporters (that) “the Beatles are more popular than Jesus.” Because I was 6 years old at the time and considered Jesus to be a personal friend of mine – I immediately smashed all of his records. Well, you can imagine my dismay and confusion when he would later sell out Shea Stadium within a mere HOUR of tickets going on sale! Boy, that was a real eye-opener for me. But, then – I had a lot of growing up to do.

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