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Column: Defiant 'till the end

By Erica Brancato
On January 22, 2014

Despite Alex Rodriguez's suspension through the 2014 baseball season, he will most likely return to Major League Baseball. Although the Bronx Bomber is up against a doping suspension and suing MLB for imposing the suspension without just cause, he is still signed with the Yankees through 2017. This was part of his 10-year/$275 million contract with New York.
With the question of him being banned from MLB or just simply retiring, A-Rod stands firm that he will be back after a season of rest. "I want to retire in New York, and I think the rest will do me good," Rodriguez said. "For me, the book isn't finished. There are still chapters to finish. ... Right now I haven't thought about retiring."
However with all the fuss and media coverage this one man has gotten, it is safe to say that not many will welcome him back with open arms. If he bowed out quietly, the situation would be very different. Based on several different steroid cases in baseball's history, very few seem to be as dramatic as this one.
One of the more famous cases of steroids in baseball was with Mark McGwire in the 1990s. McGwire holds the best at-bats-per-home-run in history, averaging a home run once every 10.6 at-bats, and was said to have been using steroids when he broke the home run record in 1998. That season he hit 70 homeruns for the St. Louis Cardinals, but after he retired in 2010, he admitted to using steroids. Despite all of his records, McGwire won't make it to the Hall of Fame. Although he still works in baseball as the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers, he will always be linked to performance-enhancing drugs. That will always follow him around, and essentially he will be known as a cheater instead of a great baseball player.
What is different in this case is that McGwire admitted himself that he was using these steroids and took the blame. Although it took him years to admit to it, he took his own mistakes in stride and owned up to what he did. Most players take the route that McGwire did and eventually come clean. Unlike Rodriguez, who is not backing down without a fight, players who admit to their wrongdoings seem to get a little more respect back than flat out lying or fighting the system.
A-Rod's case reminds me a bit of Roger Clemens and the accusation against him in 2008. Clemens denied his steroids use until 2008 when he was busted for covering up and lying about his wrongdoings. Although the case was messy and Clemens was accused of making false statements and obstructing Congress, he was later found not guilty. Clemens' reputation went downhill fast and despite being found innocent after several messy years in the spotlight he was never looked as the same again. No one knows exactly what the truth is, but the fact of the matter is that one of the greatest pitcher's legacy is tainted because of this accusation. He will be known for the unexpected victory in a steroid scandal along with his dangerous, hard-thrown pitches and 4,672 strikeouts. The cons outweigh the pros.
Any great player has the chance to be accused of steroid use. Take David Ortiz for example; during the Red Sox's run for the World Series, the eventual Series MVP had two homeruns, six RBIs, 11 hits and eight walks and was accused of using steroids. Any player with a streak of good games or a good season can be accused for taking drugs and being too good to be 'normal.'
However, how you handle the situation is truly what counts in these cases. In the end, it only comes down to what you say and do, that's what truly counts. This accusation can happen to anyone who is having a good year or is suspicious in the least bit, however with A-Rod making so much noise and suing the MLB against "suspension without a just cause" seems a bit over the top. This alone will lose all the respect fans once had for him. In the end, how you handle this situation will mark your legacy and Rodriguez is in no way doing a great job at it.

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