How I Feel About A-Rod’s Milestone
I'm mad at myself. Like, really mad at myself. I'm mad at myself for not being mad at A-Rod's 661st homer. I'm mad at myself for not hating A-Rod like I used to.
It just doesn't feel right.
It was the year 2000. I was 11 years old. My Mariners had just swept the Chicago White Sox in the ALDS before being beaten by the Yankees in the ALCS. An ALCS in which I witnessed a Game 1 Mariners win -- with a Rodriguez homer being part of the win.
A-Rod had supplanted Ken Griffey Jr., who had bolted for Cincy, as my favorite player. He played great defense, he could run. He was the best player in the sport.
I wore the t-shirt jerseys. I copied the batting stance. I had it out on the elementary school bus rides, arguing that he was better than Derek Jeter.
When the Mariners lost to the Yankees, I was devastated. But I was more devastated that offseason when like Randy Johnson, and Griffey, I learned that A-Rod was leaving the Seattle.
The Mariners had offered him a big money deal. He said he wanted to go to a place where he could win consistently, something I could at least respect. What I couldn't respect was him going to the lowly Texas Rangers for the money. Ten years, $252 million. It was about the money. And it hurt. The Mariners offered big money, just not big enough.
Alex Rodriguez broke my sports heart at 11 years old. I spent the next 10 years reveling in every A-Rod failure. I enjoyed seeing him be the historic out that gave the Mariners 116 wins in 2001. I enjoyed seeing him toil in last place in Texas. I enjoyed his fall from grace from the Yankees and his playoff struggles. I enjoyed it all.
And now, with A-Rod approaching 40 years old, I just don't care. I even find myself rooting for him a bit, rooting for him to stick it to the Yankees organization and stay around, rooting for him to be a shadow of the player he was before he cheated. If he ever was that player.
I've hated Alex Rodriguez more than any athlete I've ever seen. More than I'll ever hate any athlete again (my hate for Colin Kaepernick is nowhere near as high). And now, I'm just indifferent. A-Rod has been through the ringer, and because he's no longer as good as he was, and no longer has the power to break my heart, I just don't care.
I remember the kind of player he used to be, how natural he was, and as the book gets set to close on his career, I'm focusing on that.
Congrats on home run number 661. You used to be my favorite player.