OPINION

Opinion: Alex Rodriguez is the Tony Soprano of MLB – a cheater who remains beloved

Alex Rodriguez during a news conference on August 7, 2016 at Yankee Stadium in New York City.

Alex Rodriguez during a news conference on August 7, 2016 at Yankee Stadium in New York City.  (2016 Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez is to the sports world what Tony Soprano was to the mob.

No, A-Rod never wacked anyone. Not even close. But like Tony, A-Rod was a member of a Cosa Nostra, just a different kind. Rather than loan sharks are heroin dealers, A-Rod was part of a secret network of scientists, doctors, sports trainers, and cheats. And like Tony Soprano, despite his career of bad acts, namely steroid use, both remain beloved and legendary. 

It was not until just two weeks before spring training of the 2015 season that A-Rod finally apologized to his fans. No, it was not on a gold embossed Trump-esque piece of stationery but rather on a piece of white paper possibly from his publicist’s printer.

- Tamara Holder

On its face, A-Rod’s stats over the course of a 22-year career make him a no-brainer Hall of Fame contender: A member of the 2009 Yankees World Series championship team, three-time American League MVP, 14-time All-Star, 10-time Silver Slugger, and five-time American League home run leader. 

A-Rod amassed a total of 696 home runs and 3,113 hits. 

His 2007 $275 million contract beat his $252 million contract as the highest in Major League Baseball history. To the Latino community, he was even a bigger icon. A Dominican born in New York City, A-Rod surpassed fellow Dominican Sammy Sosa in 2010 as the top Hispanic player with the most home runs.

But A-Rod’s half-a-billion-dollar income and stat sheets were not earned legitimately. Throughout A-Rod’s entire career, he lied about using performance-enhancing drugs. Finally, in 2009 he admitted to his past lies but claimed he only used drugs in another lifetime between 2001-2003, when he played for the Rangers and only because he was under an “enormous amount of pressure.”

But then there was a federal investigation and A-Rod was right in the middle of it. Anthony Bosch, founder of Biogenisis, a Florida-based anti-aging business was nabbed for supplying illegal substances to professional athletes.

As a result, 14 MLB players were suspended, including A-Rod in 2013. He was hammered with a 211-game suspension, the longest non-lifetime suspension it its history. But A-Rod still denied his participation. Even though MLB lacked a single positive drug test, the Feds did not lack evidence to send him to prison.

And yet A-Rod scored another home run, but this one was off of the field. No, it was not that his suspension was reduced to 162 games, taking him out of the game for the entire 2014 season. In exchange for full disclosure, A-Rod was granted immunity from prosecution. And it was not until the threat of prison that A-Rod finally admitted to using performance enhancing drugs (again) between 2010-2012. 

Still, A-Rod refused to take full responsibility during that interview, claiming Bosch told him “human growth hormone would help with sleep, weight, hair growth, eyesight and muscle recovery.”

A-Rod then tried to escape more responsibility, and was sued by his lawyers for his refusal to pay over $380,000 in legal fees related to his representation.

After the suspension, Bosch publicly came forward. He said that he first met with A-Rod in his hotel room in 2010, five days before he hit his 600th home run. That meeting was the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship. For a fee of $12,000 cash a month, Bosch tailored a program of testosterone, insulin growth factor one, human growth hormone and peptides. 

Bosch executed with precision, consistently drawing A-Rod’s blood, sometimes even in public, to ensure the big hitter would not fail a drug test. A-Rod never failed a drug test.

A-Rod remained silent during the suspension. It was not until just two weeks before spring training of the 2015 season that A-Rod finally apologized to his fans. No, it was not on a gold embossed Trump-esque piece of stationery but rather on a piece of white paper possibly from his publicist’s printer.

This week, A-Rod will walk away from baseball like many mob bosses: A known cheater and liar who escaped any real accountability during his career but still famous and idolized by many.

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