I remember hearing about Alex Rodriguez back in the summer of 1994, someone tipped me off to this phenom who was a can’t miss prospect. He was going to play in Boston for a three game series, I thought about going and for whatever reason stayed home, that was the last time I didn’t take an opportunity to shoot Alex. From that point forward, everyone heard about AROD!!!! For a sports photographer, he was a dream. Anytime Seattle would come close the east coast, I made sure I was there. New York, Boston, Baltimore, and especially Detroit, Old Tiger stadium was the greatest place to shoot, I don’t think I missed a Mariner/Tiger series in that Mariner hey day.
Arod was special. He was what a ball player should look like, straight out of central casting. He looked great in his uniform had that eye black going on and he was as saleable a player I’ve ever photographed, Alex even looked great after games, wearing his custom suits all decked out ready to hop on the team bus, to say I was in awe of Alex would be an understatement.
It was sad when the Mariners broke up, Alex going to Texas was a strange move, and maybe a large sum of money helped his decision. Then between the 2003 and 2004 season, The Yankees made a play for Rodriguez and got him, Arod willing to play third base and from my perspective, financially rewarding. I now had one of the most marketable players in my own backyard for many years to come. Alex and Derek on the same team, that meant a lot more days staying home and working which was fine with me. One day Alex would break the all-time home record in a Yankee uniform; I was planning for it already. I was going to have one of the greatest collection of images of one of the most iconic players in the game. As a Sports Photographer you realize those players don’t come along to often and when they do, you cherish the time you get to cover them.
That all came crashing down the first time Alex admitted to using steroids, along with McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, many of my images began losing their value, somewhat like the housing market crash on a much smaller scale. I was angry, but also realized that baseball was like the Wild Wild West back then. We all knew what was going on, guys miraculously doubling their size over a winter. I remember the debates over juiced balls, small ballparks, bad pitching, what was causing all those softball scores in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the facts are that players were jacking themselves up and that was your answer. So baseball did what it had to do, get tougher penalties so this would never harm the game again.
You knew they were going to still catch guys using PED’s, but they were going to be lesser known players who were just trying to gain an edge and perhaps get their one big contract, honestly whose to blame them, but you would never hear about a big name player, who would risk his career and tarnish his name and definitely not someone who has admitted to steroids before. So when Alex’s name came up again, I was sort of shocked but then when I thought about, it made sense. Of course Alex would tempt fate, he was the most egocentric player I’ve ever been around, and his insecurities and ability to surround himself by people who gave him bad advice was uncanny. Alex knew he was getting old and he wanted to break every record out there, so the only way he could manage this was to cheat and cheat he did. I was willing to give Alex a pass the first time, but now as Paulie in Goodfellas says to Henry Hill….. Now,I’m gonna have to turn my back on you”. It was a good run but like many other players and coaches I’ve covered ends badly. Alex hurts the most, he had as much potential as anyone in the game it wasn’t that long ago that MLB pinned in hope on Arod breaking the home run record and passing that other cheater in Barry Bonds. Now after all this, Rodriguez makes Bonds look like a model citizen, Barry should send Alex a nice Christmas gift this year. The real sad thing in all this is that I’m sure of, is that Alex still doesn’t get it, he’s been hearing how wonderful he is since he was a teenager and most people couldn’t comprehend what that’s like. Unfortunately Alex sill acts like a teenager and blames others and doesn’t learn from his mistakes. It’s become quite apparent he never will.