A-Rod in Monument Park? Child please. In all seriousness, Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez having his No. 13 retired or the team giving him a plaque in the hallowed Monument Park seemed frivolous to me until Hal Steinbrenner was asked about that possibility on The Michael Kay Show.
“That is a bridge to cross when I come to it,” Steinbrenner said Monday on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. “But he has done a lot for this organization and it hasn’t just been on the field. I’m talking about players way back, like Robinson Cano. He was a mentor, too. He has done a lot for this organization on the field, but also off the field that a lot of people don’t know about. He has been a great leader and he’s been a great mentor.”
While Steinbrenner didn’t exactly give A-Rod a ringing endorsement, he didn’t completely write off the possibility either, which I felt was rather noteworthy. The idea of A-Rod being recognized in Monument Park is not as outlandish as it seems on the surface, but before I explain why, let me just say that A-Rod is no Andy Pettitte, and anyone making that comparison is flat-out lost.
Pettitte admitted after the release of the Mitchell Report in 2007 to using HGH on two different occasions to help him recover from an elbow injury in 2002. He owned it, took responsibility for it and was adamant he never did it again. There has never been any evidence Pettitte experimented with PEDs at any other point following that incident in 2002, and I think it’s fair to give him the benefit of the doubt.
A-Rod on the other hand is in his own category. Following years of denial, A-Rod was backed into a corner he couldn’t escape when Sports Illustrated reported in 2009 that his name had appeared on a list of 104 players who tested positive for steroids in 2003. Once the SI report was leaked, A-Rod addressed the media saying he felt an enormous amount of pressure after signing a record 10-year $252 million contract with the Rangers in 2001 and turned to steroids as a result.
A-Rod gave the impression he had no intention of ever using PEDs again after he was traded from the Rangers to the Yankees following the 2003 season, which was a blatant lie. Less than a year later, it was reported after Anthony Bosch’s Biogenesis steroid clinic was busted in 2013, that A-Rod had formed a relationship with Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch beginning in 2010, with A-Rod becoming the ring leader.
A-Rod was later suspended 162 games (a reduction from the original 211 game ban he was originally given) for his involvement with Biogenesis, to which A-Rod maintains he did nothing wrong yet accepted Major League Baseball’s punishment. If he was truly innocent, he wouldn’t have just bowed down to the commissioner and accepted the longest non-lifetime ban suspension in the history of the sport.
Other than one minor slip up in 2002, Andy Pettitte was the consummate professional, a key member of the core four and a player who played an integral role on five Yankees championship teams. Retiring his No. 46 was a no-brainer.
Based on the looks of it, barring immense changes to the voting process, A-Rod has sabotaged his chances at making the Hall of Fame because of his experimentation with steroids.
The Yankees have an opportunity with A-Rod to do something that goes against the creed of the Hall of Fame, recognize a great player with a PEDs past.
His performance during the 2009 postseason may make him Monument Park worthy by itself. He hit the biggest home run of that postseason during Game 2 of the ALDS against the Twins. The Yankees were down by two with two outs in the ninth when A-Rod hit a game-tying home run off Joe Nathan. The Yankees went on to sweep the Twins en route to the ALCS.
In Game 2 of the ALCS that year against the Angels, after the Yankees had fallen behind in the top of the eleventh inning, A-Rod tied the game in the bottom half, homering off Brian Fuentes on an 0-2 pitch. Then in the World Series, A-Rod had the go-ahead hit with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 4 to break a 4-4 tie with the Phillies to help the Yankees take a 3-1 series lead. The Yankees went on to win their 27th title in franchise history dethroning the Phillies in six games.
Overall, A-Rod hit a scorching .365 with six home runs and 18 RBIs during the 2009 postseason, leading the Yankees in every major offensive category. Hideki Matsui, the World Series MVP that year, was second with a .349 average, four home runs and 13 RBIs. That postseason, there was A-Rod and then there was everybody else.
When you delve into the all time Yankee record books, A-Rod is fifth behind only the likes of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra for most home runs in franchise history with 351. He’s sixth in franchise history with a .523 slugging percentage and seventh with a .901 OPS.
Steroids or no steroids, those numbers speak for themselves, and the fact that he put the Yankees on his back during the 2009 championship season, the fact he’s statistically one of the greatest players in franchise history and the fact Hal Steinbrenner has an opportunity to do something the Hall of Fame would never do makes me believe giving A-Rod a plaque in Monument Park wouldn’t be the calamity I originally thought.