‘A-Rod’ could surpass Bonds’ mark, infamy

    The process of wringing one’s hands over Barry Bonds becoming the home run king is over just in time for fans to wring their hands over someone else taking over the title—Alex Rodriguez.
    The two, by coincidence, both hit home runs on Saturday—each setting their own milestones: Bonds hitting his 755th to tie him with “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron for first on the all-time list (and in far fewer games, at that) and “A-Rod” hitting his 500th (making him the youngest player to ever reach that mark by a margin of close to a year over Jimmie Foxx.
    While many in baseball took the opportunity to debate whether Rodriguez will best Bonds as the all-time sultan of swat, very little is being said about another grand coincidence the hitters share—they’re two of the most loathed figures in the major leagues.
    “A-Rod” is probably the only player who can surpass Bonds’ home run total; he’s also probably the only player in MLB who conceivably could be so despised around baseball and in the media as Bonds has been in his chase of Aaron.
    Yesterday afternoon was a prime example of Rodriguez’s reputation at its worst. In Toronto for the first time since May 30, a rookie pitcher intentionally threw a ball at Rodriguez’s legs in his first at-bat  (“A-Rod” dodged the close pitch, but the message was clear).
    That move was in retaliation for the Yankees’ third baseman yelling “mine!” while running to third base on a pop-up to Howie Clark, a journeyman ballplayer in his first game with the Jays since 2004 in an effort to distract him or make him hold off for fear of a mid-field collision, thinking shortstop John MacDonald was calling him off the play.
    The move was resounded as classless both throughout baseball and by members of both teams, but came on the tails of reporters from the New York Post tailing a very married Rodriguez who was cavorting with a reported stripper—not a Toronto native, but someone who supposedly has met Rodriguez on the road numerous times.
    It should be noted that “A-Rod,” at least in this situation, did not stay in the same hotel as the rest of the Yankees.
    Even when this series of events happened more than two months ago, it simply was the latest in a series of controversy around Rodriguez.
    Last September, for instance, headlines were made when Sports Illustrated ran an article painting Rodriguez as a loner in the Yanks’ clubhouse. And, of course, Rodriguez’s distinction as the $250-million man—the recipient of what is far and away the most lucrative contract in sports.
    No wonder when a fan in Baltimore dropped a ball on A-Rod’s head a few weeks back as he stood in the dugout, no one seemed surprised.
    While Rodriguez passing Bonds isn’t a certainty, it’s a pretty good bet, especially if he hits 73 home runs in a season at the age of 37 like Bonds did.
    Rodriguez hit the 500-mark at a much younger age than Aaron, Babe Ruth, or Willie Mays, and almost five years younger than Bonds himself was when he hit the mark.
    There’s no guarantees in life—or in baseball—but the big debate won’t be so much if A-Rod hits the most all time as much as if he’ll be the first to hit 800.
    Rodriguez has plenty in common with Bonds besides home runs. Both are reluctant to talk to the media. Both are former recipients of multiple gold gloves who currently are regarded as defensive liabilities.
    Both have a reputation as playoff chokers that, at times, overshadows the numbers they’ve put up in their regular-season careers.
    And, while the Baseball Writers Association of America still has a say in the matter, they’ll probably both be elected to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown soon after they become eligible.
    It’ll still be years before A-Rod could get the chance to pass Bonds, though, and there’s still time for Rodriguez to distance himself from Bonds in terms of reputation.

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