If you were presented with Alex Rodriguez‘s career numbers with no further information, it’d be a travesty if you didn’t immediately label him a surefire Hall of Famer. But so much else surrounds both Rodriguez and the Hall of Fame voting these days that it’s becoming increasingly harder to determine whether he’ll ever gain enshrinement into Cooperstown.
Rodriguez burst onto the scene with the Mariners in the mid-1990s. He made his big league debut at the age of 18, and he was well on his way to becoming a perennial All-Star by the time he was 20. A-Rod then made good on the hype by putting together one of the more impressive individual stretches — at least from a statistical standpoint — in MLB history.
Rodriguez, who will turn 38 in July and whose future is very much uncertain because of a hip issue that will force him to miss at least part of the 2013 season, has 14 All-Star selections, 10 Silver Sluggers, five home run crowns and three MVP awards to his credit. Over the course of his illustrious career, he has amassed 647 home runs, the fifth-most in MLB history, and 1,950 RBIs, the seventh-most all time.
A few years ago, anyone disputing Rodriguez’s Hall of Fame candidacy deserved to be slapped. Now, the question is no longer about whether Rodriguez is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but it’s about whether he’ll ever get in once he’s eligible for induction.
The reason: Rodriguez is an admitted steroid user. And as much as he was already teetering on the edge, a recent development will only hurt his chances even more. Rodriguez admitted in 2009 that he used banned substances from 2001 to 2003, but he claimed that he has been clean since. However, a report that appeared in the Miami New Times on Tuesday linked a number of MLB players, including Rodriguez, to a Miami-based PED dealer.
Rodriguez’s legacy was undoubtedly already tainted, but this recent development, which could evolve into a BALCO-like scandal, further hurts the legitimacy of the slugger’s career. The baseball writers decided a few weeks ago not to induct Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and a few other Steroid Era players into the Hall of Fame, presumably because of their suspicions about those players. There are some who think Bonds and Co. deserve enshrinement, or that the players who played during the Steroid Era will eventually be inducted, but Cooperstown has suddenly become a very controversial place.
Will A-Rod ever punch his ticket, or will the baseball writers keep him out forever?