Spring training is starting for Major League baseball teams. One of baseball’s biggest names, as well as most notorious characters is Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. Rodriguez, popularly known as “A-Rod,” was suspended from the game last year because of his use of PED, or performance enhancing drugs. And this week, as he prepares to return to baseball and to one of the most storied baseball franchises, Rodriguez released a handwritten, 216-word letter offering an apology for his temporary banishment.
Major League Baseball had accused A-Rod of involvement in a drug scheme, patronizing PED through a Miami clinic known as Biogenesis. The former head of this clinic, Anthony Bosch, recently received a four-year prison sentence. A dozen other players also patronized Bosch and his discredited clinic, and they received suspensions. Rodriguez received the lengthiest suspension, and at times changed his story about use of these chemicals. This also comes in light of his admission in 2009 to having used PEDs?earlier in his baseball career. Thus Rodriguez, his image, and his career accomplishments have all come into question on a number of occasions.
Yankees management offered A-Rod the chance to make a formal apology at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, but the native New Yorker, who has also played for the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers, chose instead to offer up a letter, written in script, expressing his regrets and feelings on this matter.
He writes in this letter:
“To the Fans, I take full responsibility for the mistakes that led to my suspension for the 2014 season. I regret that my actions made the situation worse than it needed to be. To Major league baseball, the Yankees, the Steinbrenner family, the Players Association and you, the fans, I can only say I’m sorry.”
Even with such an attempt at making amends, this high-priced athlete, whose playing statistics have often been very strong, waded into a great deal of controversy. The media and the fans have speculated about his sincerity, his ability to continue to play without doping up, and how much is still not being explained by him, by the Yankees, and the MLB in general. With that in mind, some media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and NJ.Com turned to graphologists, handwritten analysts, to ask them about the veracity of A-Rod’s note.
Baseball fans and New York baseball fans especially, are debating the merits of A-Rod’s letter. I asked some friends who are die-hard baseball fans for their reactions. Interestingly, two Yankee fans, Joe and Ed, were the most scathing of A-Rod’s action while Josh, a Mets fan, was more forgiving. Joe noted, “The apology was a waste of paper.” Ed wrote, “We can accept him back for his infraction because he served a suspension, but that doesn’t erase what was said and how he behaved during the process…he committed a fraud.” Josh the Mets fan countered, “I think his move to write an apology instead of holding a news conference was his classiest move in a long time.”
In general, I am saddened and discouraged by Rodriguez’s behavior, as well as that of other players who have “juiced” in order to perform better. There are various moral issues at play, as well as my personal disappointment in players who indulge in this. In addition, Rodriguez presents a poor role model for young athletes in general. Regardless, the topic and A-Rod are very interesting: The intersection of sports, business, ethics, and science have proven to be contentious.