Mood Music - Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones
For those who read Pinstripe Alley from the bottom of ponds or beneath boulders, Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th home run this afternoon. Thirteen days after hitting home run 599, A-Rod delivered the nice, even number that we were all looking for.
And if you were waiting for a platform to hate on A-Rod, thirteen days was more than enough time to learn how to spell "Primobolan" and figure out a bunch of different ways to phrase "tarnished legacy." This, of course, leads to wonderful contributions to the world like this, this, and this. The common theme being: since A-Rod has admitted to using performance enhancing drugs, he is undeserving to share the spotlight with the greatest power hitters in the game.
Before I even get into any counterarguments, let me say something else: Real writers and real men don't take the moral high ground in order to slam someone they don't like and try to bully other people into thinking the way they think. You don't like Alex, you probably don't like the Yankees, and you're on a martyrdom about steroids, we get it, but it doesn't make waiting for what should be a celebratory moment of achievement to take pot shots at him any less pathetic.
With that said, there are probably many of you who agree with the general sentiment of some of this "writing." A-Rod cheated the game and the fans, he lied, and that shouldn't just be expunged from his record because he plays for our favorite team. But at what point is enough, enough?
Since he came to the Yankees in 2004, A-Rod has always been one of my favorite Yankees. He's always been something of a magnet for controversy, and I don't expect that to go away. It has always been a part of his personality; and as such, where A-Rod goes, the sharp pens of the media follow. If I bothered to try and defend him every time a silly accusation was leveled at him, I'd have long since retired from this profession to deal with my arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
But, in the spirit of assigning significance to even numbers, A-Rod's 600 home runs has inspired me to say a few words about what he has meant to me as a baseball fan and as a Yankees fan:
Reaching 600 home runs does matter. It is important. It did register on an emotional level with me. I don't care how many crusaders want to whine about his numbers being "chemically enhanced" or requiring an "asterisk," I have always found him to be an easy guy to root for. And when he hit his 600th home run, it was an impressive, terrific feat, without any apology or qualification required.
Alex Rodriguez will never be a popular player. He's never going to "lead the league in smiles" like David Ortiz or receive universal respect and adulation like Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera. But to us, as fans of the Yankees, who, for better or worse, have a similar reputation of being hated, shouldn't it be easy for us to relate to? I don't write to convince anyone that they should or should not like A-Rod, or that they should or should not be happy or impressed with his accomplishments, it's much simpler than that:
Alex, watching you play for my favorite team has truly been a joy. Congratulations on your milestone, I know how hard you worked for it.
Haters gonna hate.