Say what you want about Alex Rodriguez. He’s one of the greatest talents to ever put on a baseball uniform. No one can take that away from him.
At the same time though, he is the face of the steroid era in Major League Baseball, with apologies to Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa, among others. A-Rod initially adamantly denied ever using PEDs, before coming clean (somewhat) prior to the 2009 season.
He was the ring leader of the infamous Biogenisis scandal and received the longest non-lifetime ban suspension in the history of the sport. But all of these things are what make A-Rod the ultimate “Lighting Rod,” one of the most polarizing athletes the sports world has ever seen. So with A-Rod revealing his intentions to retire, I decided to look back at my top 10 favorite Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez moments.
Honorable mention: That time Brian Cashman told A-Rod to STFU
A-Rod was telling the media he was ready to return from hip surgery in June of 2013, and there was a clear disconnect between he and the team, especially general manager Brian Cashman, who made these comments to ESPN. “You know what, when the Yankees want to announce something, [we will]. Alex should just shut the f— up. That’s it. I’m going to call Alex now.” Classic A-Rod.
10. A-Rod’s 3 HR, 10 RBI performance off Bartolo Colon
The first time I saw before my eyes the true greatness of Alex Rodriguez came during a game against Bartolo Colon and the Angels on April 26, 2005 when A-Rod smashed three home runs, and drove in 10 runs in a 12-4 Yankees romp. Up until that moment in time, A-Rod had yet to live up to the hype, at least to me, but it was on that day in 2005 that I realized how special of a talent this player really was.
You can relive that performance here.
9. A-Rod’s walk-off ends 15-inning marathon
In a prelude of what was to come that postseason, A-Rod ended an insanely long 15-inning game against the Red Sox by hitting a walk-off two-run home run off of Junichi Tazawa to break a scoreless tie. Watch that home run here.
8. A-Rod homers for 3,000th hit
Following A-Rod’s 162-game suspension which turned all of baseball against him, A-Rod was once again back in the spotlight with his pursuit of 3,000 hits. As Michael Kay would say, A-Rod “did it in style” blasting a home run for hit No. 3,000, just like Derek Jeter before him. It was a blatant “us against the world” moment with most of the baseball world rooting against A-Rod, except me.
7. A-Rod hits three-run walk-off homer to beat Indians and cap stunning comeback
To this day, I’ve never seen a more improbable comeback (I actually shut the TV off after the second out was made in the bottom of the ninth inning and went outside to have a baseball catch, but that’s not important) in my life. The Yankees were down 6-2 to the Indians with two outs and no one on base. I figured the game was over and not wanting to see them lose, shut the TV off and wanted to do something to take my attention away from the fact my team was about to lose. Josh Phelps hit a solo home run to make the score 6-3, and Jorge Posada, Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu all followed with successive hits to make the score 6-5, setting the stage for A-Rod who came through with an ultra-dramatic walk-off three-run home run to win the game. I came back inside after finishing my catch after about 25-30 minutes, and A-Rod was being interviewed on the field and Yankee Stadium was up for grabs. I still can’t believe it.
6. Epic performance on final day of 2009 season
Alex Rodriguez entered the final day of the 2009 season with 28 home runs and 93 RBIs, with his streak of 11 consecutive seasons of 30 home runs and 100 RBIs seemingly out of reach. Out of no where, A-Rod hit a three-run home run and a grand slam in the sixth inning against the Rays to reach 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for the 12th straight year, and carried that momentum all through the playoffs. It was a truly magical moment.
Relive that performance here.
5. Game tying home run in Game 2 of 2009 ALCS
The Angels had just taken the lead in the top of the 11th inning off Yankees reliever Alfredo Aceves and it appeared as if the Yankees were going to throw away a golden opportunity to take a 2-0 ALCS lead. In the bottom of the inning though, A-Rod homered on an 0-2 pitch off Brian Fuentes to tie the game, a game the Yankees would eventually win in 13 innings. It was just one of many incredibly clutch A-Rod moments in the 2009 postseason.
Watch the home run here.
4. Game tying home run in Game 2 of 2009 ALDS
It took longer than any Yankees fan could have anticipated, but A-Rod finally won over the fan base with his incredibly clutch home run in Game 2 of the 2009 ALDS against the Twins. Down by two in the bottom of the ninth inning against Joe Nathan. A-Rod got ahead in the count 3-1, and then drilled the next pitch into the Yankees bullpen to tie the game at three. The reason that home run was so big was because the Yankees had gone five years since winning a postseason series, and losing Game 2 after they had won Game 1 would have just brought back a lot of “here we go again” thoughts amongst the team. A-Rod changed that and the Yankees went on to sweep the Twins.
3. Game-winning hit in Game 4 of 2009 World Series
A-Rod’s unquestioned biggest Yankees hit came in Game 4 of the 2009 World Series against the Phillies. After Johnny Damon had miraculously stole second and third on the same play, A-Rod doubled off of Brad Lidge to give the Yankees a 5-4 ninth inning lead. The Yankees had lost Game 3 to let the Phillies back in the series, and who knows what happens if A-Rod doesn’t come through in that spot. He may have finished his infamous career without an illusive championship.
2. Ultimate revenge home run off Ryan Dempster
I don’t think I’ve ever been as fired up as I was when Ryan Dempster intentionally threw at A-Rod not once, not twice, not three times, but four times in one at-bat during a Yankee-Red Sox game in 2013. Dempster didn’t finally drill A-Rod until the ball four pitch in one of the most busch league acts I’ve witnessed in a baseball game. Thankfully, that decision ended up backfiring for the Red Sox as A-Rod proceeded to homer off Dempster and lead the Yankees to a dramatic victory.
1. A-Rod storms into Francesa’s radio show
To this day, I don’t remember if I ever laughed harder. On a November day after the 2013 season at the height of the Biogenesis scandal, A-Rod stormed into Mike Francesa’s radio show after he learned Bud Selig wouldn’t testify against him and proceeded to deny any wrong doing, claimed he never used PEDs and called the whole situation surrounding MLB’s Biogenesis investigation a “farce.” It was true radio gold if I ever heard it and easily the most entertaining moment I can remember during A-Rod’s time in New York.