MLB Week in Review (May 1-7)

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The MLB is a league full of complicated characters but none are more complicated than that of Alex Rodriguez.

The man known as A-Rod is one of the greatest to ever play the game and yet at the same time is one of the most hated athletes in all sports.

Despite being one of the greatest hitters of all time his legacy is a very complicated one and as a result he earns the hate of the majority of MLB fans.

He rose quickly through the ranks in the major leagues after being drafted by the Seattle Mariners.

He spent only a year in the minor leagues before making his major league debut with the Mariners at 18-years old.

He was a super prospect before super prospects as he had the potential to be a great player. After spending his first two seasons in Triple-A and the MLB he broke out in 1996 finishing second in MVP voting.

From that point on he remained one of the best shortstops in the game. He then signed a mega-deal worth $252-million over 10-years, the largest contract at the time.

The relationship with Texas was a tense one as Rodriguez had tied up a lot of money for the Rangers and never seemed to be happy playing for them.

That marriage lasted only three years as Rodriguez was clearly unhappy and the Rangers had spent too much money on one player.

The contract needed to be shed but it was a difficult decision as he had continued his great pace as he continued to hit around .300 and had around 50 home runs in each year.

A trade to Boston fell through after the MLBPA vetoed the trade but soon after the New York Yankees took on his contract.

They moved him to third base, Derek Jeter was solidly in short, and the legend of A-Rod continued to grow. When he went to the Yankees his role as a villain began to grow and he quickly became one of the most hated players in the game.

Part of it was simply the fact that he was just that good and continued to beat teams but that wasn’t all of it.

He gained the reputation of crumbling under pressure as his postseason stats were not nearly as impressive as his regular season stats.

The amount of money that was being paid to a player who could not perform angered a lot of the Yankees fans.

Now he was the enemy in the MLB for being so good and a villain in his home stadium for failing under pressure.

Then came Jose Conseco who released a book in 2005 outlining the extent of steroid use in the MLB.

It is the first indication that there had been a problem in baseball and in the book Rodriguez was named as one of the many players who had been using steroids.

In the BALCO investigation it was revealed that he had tested positive for anabolic steroids in 2003 while with the Rangers.

He later admitted to using steroids in 2003 but received no punishment because there were no punishments outlined for that time.

Then in 2013 Rodriguez was named in the Biogenesis scandal and this time received a major punishment earning a season-long suspension for 2014.

Despite not being suspended the first time, Rodriguez received the suspension of a second time offender and immediately became one of the faces of the steroid era.baseball-sidebar

That made him an even bigger villain for all MLB fans and further complicated his legacy. This year Rodriguez returned from his suspension and has returned to being a good hitter, although not as good as he had been in the past.

This past week he hit his sixth home run of the season but more importantly it was his 661st home run of his career passing Willie Mays for fourth all-time.

That home run launched the debate about the top power hitters in baseball. Rodriguez has the ability to climb up to be at or near the top of the home run list but at 39 his time is running out and he needs to pick up the pace if he wants to match the 762 home runs by Barry Bonds.

That in itself show the difficulty of the home run list though as Bonds has been implicated in steroid rumours, although none have been proven, and now Rodriguez is climbing the ladder.

Two men could end up #1 and #2 in home runs with both being linked to steroids leaving many to believe that neither deserve to be up there with Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth.

How many of A-Rod’s home runs were gained because of steroids?

That is the question and if he played so many years under the influence of steroids does he really belong among those greats who, as far as we know, were clean.

He is a complicated player and has a legacy that continues to get tougher to define as he climbs up the home run list making even more fans angry that a cheater can be put among those greats and it is a debate that has been had since Bonds took over the home run lead and will continue until a clean player takes his spot.

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Extra Innings
(More on this week in baseball)

Harper Breaking Records
The Washington Nationals were supposed to be the team to beat this year but a bad start has them trying to get back into the fight and leading the way is youngster Bryce Harper who became the youngest player to hit 3 home runs in a single game as he continues to lead the offence

Wrigley Moving Along
Wrigley Field is beginning to come together after a rough winter delayed the renovations as the new outfield seat will be ready for Monday as the Cubs fans finally see some progress on the renovations that plagued their first homestand

Early Change for Brew Crew
The Brewers are not happy with their start to the season and they did not wait long to make some major changes as they fired Ron Roenicke and hired Craig Counsell as their new manager making a big in-season change

Key Series:
St. Louis Cardinals 3 – 0 Pittsburgh Pirates
– It was only a few years ago when the Pirates and the cards were fighting it out for the central division but a lot has changed in those years as the Cards have the best record in baseball while the Pirates struggle to stay out of the basement especially after this series

Detroit Tigers 2 – 1 Kansas City Royals
– It is becoming the new battle in the AL Central with the Royals showing that last year was no fluke marching to the top of the division while the old guards of the division got a little closer in taking this three game series

San Francisco Giants 2 – 1 San Diego Padres
– The Giants started the season in a bad way as injuries left them a skeleton of their World Series team but they are slowly making their way back using series like this one to gain some ground on the Padres who sit near the top of the division

Texas Rangers 3 – 0 Houston Astros
– The Astros started the year on a good run but this series may be a sign of the future as the basement dwelling Rangers swept this series and pulled themselves out of the bottom of the division and closer to competing

Upcoming Series:
Oakland Athletics vs. Seattle Mariners [May 8/9/10]
– The Mariners and the Athletics were supposed to be two of the teams competing in the very competitive west this year but so far neither have met expectations as both teams look to get something started against each other

Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals [May 8/9/10]
– The Nats are finally starting to show some fight this year and are making their slow climb to the top of the division but to get their they will need to beat the Braves who sit just above them in the standings and will try to hold them off

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Philadelphia Phillies [May 11/12/13/14]
– The battle of Philadelphia gets underway this year but it might not have the same fire as it has had in recent years with both teams struggling to stay out of the bottom of their divisions and looking to gain some state-wide bragging rights

New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs [May 11/12/13/14]
– It used to be a battle of the two most inept teams in the MLB but that has all changed as the Mets and Cubs both sit near the top of their divisions heading into this series where they try to keep their early season runs going

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