*It’s been confounding, in the last week, to see the flood of articles written on how Major League Baseball’s dogged pursuit of Alex Rodriguez has somehow turned him into a “sympathetic figure,” as the New York Times wrote. This line of reasoning is absolutely baffling. There might not be anyone in professional sports less deserving of our sympathy then Rodriguez.
Rodriguez deserves nothing but scorn – and, for the rest of his awkward, strange season, he’s going to get tons of it. Him and the rest of the gaggle of players who tried to subvert the game need to be ostracized and villainized so that this entire ugly situation never happens again. He juiced, and worst of all, he lied and then tried to cover it up. He’s become Richard Nixon with bigger biceps. He deserves the entire suspension baseball handed to him, and a few more years of scorn after that.
Still, he’s struggling against the suspension and MLB’s verdict, seemingly the only person in America convinced of his innocence. Rodriguez seems to be the just about the loneliest man in America right now. The game that he supposedly loves – and the game in which he’s made untold riches in – wants nothing to do with him. The opposing fans who attend every game heap scorn upon him and cheer wildly when he gets plunked; Yankee fans, who never really accepted Rodriguez into their hearts, watch him through embarrassed, half-closed eyes, the dirt kicked on top of a lost season. Even his fellow players are sick of the whole situation. The bulked-up sluggers of the past – McGwire, Sosa, Bonds – who could have prompted the baseball player’s union to protect the juicers are long gone, and the game’s clean players are finally empowered to speak out.
ESPN’s Buster Olney made an apt comparison when talking about Rodriguez the other day; he’s turned into Charles Foster Kane, the tycoon from Citizen Kane, vainly plugging along and completely oblivious to how the world views him. Kane, like Rodriguez, wasn’t deserving of our sympathy; he was deserving of our pity. One wonders if Rodriguez has a bat with “Rosebud” inscribed on it in his closet, ready to be tossed in the fire after he finally fades from view.