Will Rodriguez Retirement Dampen Rivalry?

Well, the day has finally come. Alex Rodriguez, who for years has been the bane of the Red Sox Nation’s existence, is retiring. An Alex Rodriguez retirement means that Red Sox fans will no longer have a primary Yankee player to focus their taunts at. As the last link to steroid use, A-Rod will no longer remind baseball fans of a dark time in our National Pastime’s history. However, it also means that the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees won’t be as intense either.

Despite A-Rod’s flaws, its hard to deny his talent. Since his debut in 1994, Rodriguez has hit close to 700 homeRodriguez Retirement runs, is a member of the 3,000 hit club, and has collected over 2000 RBIs. Only a small handful of players have ever accumulated those numbers. In fact, if my research is accurate, Hank Aaron is the only other player that has stronger numbers. While Hank Aaron never used steroids, it’s hard to say that all of A-Rod’s success came from PEDs. After all, a batter still has to connect his bat to the ball in order hit a home run. Many fans don’t realize how difficult that is. Steroid use can’t give a player that edge.

So did Rodriguez use PEDs? There’s no doubt about it. But did he take his punishment and sit out the 2014 season? Yes, he did. While that might have satisfied Commissioner Bud Selig, it came nowhere close to satisfying the Red Sox Nation.

Any member of the Red Sox Nation will tell you that the most famous moment in A-Rod’s time at Fenway Park took place in 2004. Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez fought it out at home plate in the third inning of a July game that resulted in  one of the biggest bench-clearing brawls between the two teams since 1967. As a result, Rodriguez and Varitek received suspensions and large fines. It’s remembered as one of the more significant brawls at Fenway Park between the two teams. It’s also the brawl that made everyone in Red Sox Nation hate A-Rod. After this season,however, he’ll no longer be around for Sox fans to beat up on.

With a Rodriguez Retirement, Who Will Sox Fans Hate On Now?

This week’s series between the Red Sox and Yankees will be the last one that will include A-Rod. Never again will Red Sox Nation be able to chant, “A-Rod sucks!” Well maybe we will. After all, we love to chant “Free Tom Brady!” at most games and he’s not even a baseball player. With a Rodriguez retirement also comes the reality that the source of an intensified hatred towards the Yankees will no longer be taunted at Fenway Park. Does that mean the rivalry between the two teams will die down? Maybe a little. But it’s a 100 year old rivalry, so it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Will the Red Sox Nation miss A-Rod? Yes, but not for positive sentimental reasons. We’ll always think poorly of the guy, but we’ll also miss having someone to kick around when the Yankees are in town.

Do Steroids Even Matter Anymore?

I overheard an interesting question between two fans at the opening of the Red Sox v. Astros series last week. “You think he’s back on steroids?” someone asked about Ortiz as he stood at-bat. I thought about how unlikely that would be. What does Ortiz have to gain by using steroids? So he can leave baseball at the top? That’s quite a risk for someone who has already been mentioned in rumors about usage. But on a larger level I have to ask myself, “Do steroids even matter anymore?”

A lot of people will say yes, they matter a lot. They say that steroid usage is cheatingSteroids Even Matter because it prolongs a player’s career, makes him unnaturally strong, and gives a team an unbalanced advantage over another. But it’s not like PEDs haven’t been around for years. Jim Bouton’s book Ball Four details amphetamine use in baseball in the 1960s and 70s. Players would take them by the handful before a game to stay energized. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon to find bowls of the stuff in locker rooms throughout baseball. So when the question of whether to induct Roger Clemens comes up, why don’t the same critics who point to his alleged steroid usage also call out the Hall of Famers who took amphetamines over fifty years ago? What’s the difference between a guy like Barry Bonds, and Willie Mays, who allegedly kept a liquid form of amphetamines in his locker during his final days with the Mets? I honestly think it comes down to its label. “…if there was a pill that could guarantee you would win 20 games but would take five years off of your life, players would take it,” Boutin added. “The only thing I didn’t know at the time was the name.” In the 1960s, no one really knew what amphetamines were, much less thought about the ethics of taking them. So there was no proper noun to speak of that people could use as a weapon to label players they didn’t like.

So Do Steroids Even Matter?

On one hand, I don’t think players who routinely took and depended on steroids during their careers should immediately be inducted in the Hall of Fame, including Roger Clemens. It’s not just because of their usage, but also because of the tremendous amount of arrogance they displayed when using. The humbleness that has often been consistent with baseball was absent in their demeanor. Combine that aspect with a disregard for rules, and the general disregard for their own bodies is enough for me to keep them out of the Hall of Fame. Not to mention they’re terrible role models for teens who don’t understand what steroids can really do to your body. On the other hand, it’s not fair that players like Willie Mays used amphetamines and were never criticized, while Ortiz and Clemens are continually condemned for their alleged usage. So what does it come down to nowadays? “[Steroids] matter in terms of players are still getting suspended for it and can cost their team,” says Christopher Cooper, a personal trainer and co-owner of Active Movement & Performance in Massapequa Park, NY. “They can disappoint fans, but it’s not as much in the limelight as they were a few years ago. So it’s almost as if they don’t matter, unless your team’s player gets caught.”

So do steroids even matter anymore? To loyal fanboys the answer is no; they’ll stay loyal to their favorite player. But to opposing fans, it most certainly does. It’s a label that will always be used as a weapon to attack the opposition.

David Ortiz: Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Folks

david ortiz

Courtesy of www.sports.espn.go.com

After much hemming and hawing during spring training, it appears David Ortiz feels pretty good. He may say pretty [expletive] good. He is on a 27-game hitting streak. Red Sox management was concerned that he would not be able to play in any games. We can have someone run for him if it comes to that, but he is swinging that bat to the tune of .416. Then, must we worry that he seems to be doing just a little too good?

There is a lot of chatter about steroids, but personally, I don’t think he would do them. The Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy spoke with Ortiz “mano-a-mano,” and he vehemently denied the accusations. Now that puts the reader in the unfortunate place of determining the truth.  If you know your Hamlet then you will recall the line from the Shakespeare play, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” directed toward the Queen during the play reenacting the death of the King, in which she plays a part. In other words, too much talk about the subject deems you guilty. Or, you can believe Big Papi, the big, lovable lug that he is, and take him at his word: he is steroid free. God forbid, we just enjoy his success, especially after the nail biter of a preseason. No, we have to find something about which to whine.

Besides, I think the Red Sox have bigger fish to fry with a lack of depth at third base, getting bats on balls, and getting themselves out of a slight slump.