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Alex Rodriguez: Hall Of Famer or Steroid Era Poster Child?

With Alex Rodriguez on the verge of joining the exclusive 600 home run club and heading towards the downhill slide to retirement, it is time to really start wondering about his Hall Of Fame chances.

Any day now, Rodriguez will join Barry Bonds, Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Sammy Sosa, and Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players to ever hit 600 home runs. But with confirmed use of steroids, is it enough?

His numbers are beyond gaudy and will be even more so before he hangs up his cleats for the last time. But his stats don’t matter anymore.

What matters now are the voters’ perceptions of him. Is he a cheater, or does he deserve a pardon for at least owning up to the mistakes he made and coming clean?

Rodriguez has admitted to using anabolic steroids from 2001 to 2003 when he was a member of the Texas Rangers. Coincidentally, he has more home runs over that three year span than any other three year span in his career. Another thing to worry about if you are A-Rod are the differences in career averages between his steroid using seasons and the ones where he was supposedly clean.

In his three seasons of steroid use, Rodriguez averaged 52 homers and 132 RBI’s with a slugging percentage of .615 for the Rangers. In his other 10 full seasons (using seasons with at least 500 AB), he has averages of 39.2 home runs and 119 RBI’s with a slugging percentage of .574. Those numbers are still very impressive, but not quite as eye popping as his three seasons in Texas.

No one, not even Rodriguez himself, can honestly say whether or not the use of steroids contributed to bolstering his statistics, but the thought that it did will always cross the minds of every voter.

And at a time when neither Barry Bonds, the all time home run king, or Roger Clemens, a seven time Cy Young award winner, are guaranteed a spot in Cooperstown because of their alleged use of steroids, Alex Rodriguez might not want to start penning his acceptance speech too early.

In an era in which many of the games biggest stars have been accused of or linked to steroid use, Rodriguez has been inserted right in the middle of it. If nothing else, I think it is admirable that he was finally able to admit his mistakes and the fact that he used poor judgment (although he had denied it previously).

I just hope that when his career is all said and done, the Hall Of Fame committee rewards him with an enshrinement. Whether you like A-Rod or not, he has at least come clean about things, which is more than you can say for some of the other players from this era who have been put under the microscope.

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Time For Interleague Play To Be Put Back On The Shelf

Prior to June 12, 1997, the concept of a National League team playing an American league team during baseballs regular season was merely an idea or something that some people thought they could only dream about.

Then it happened. Interleague play became a reality and has been a staple on the Major League Baseball schedule since.

When the idea became reality, it was a grand and glorious spectacle. Stadium attendances skyrocketed and television ratings were the highest they had been in years. The sports world was abuzz with baseballs crowning new achievement.

Now, thirteen years later, I say maybe enough is enough.

It was fun and new at first, but now it just feels stale and forced. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy interleague play, I just feel that in some ways it takes away from the World Series.

The World Series is supposed to be baseballs pinnacle, where the champions of each league face one another to prove which team, and league is superior. Now, we have regular season match-ups trying to tell us the same thing.

In the past, the World Series gave us the opportunity to watch two teams playing each other that hadn’t played in 50 years. Now, the World Series gives us the opportunity to watch two teams that haven’t played in four months. Which one sounds more compelling?

What happens if the Yankees and Dodgers meet in this years Fall Classic? In the past, there would have been talk about the great rivalries and the many memorable moments between these two teams. Don Larsen’s perfect game. Tommy Lasorda vs. Billy Martin. Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and the rest of the Hall of Famers that made up this classic rivalry. That’s what the talk would have been.

Now, the talk can be: “Well, what happened when they played back in June?”

When you look at the NBA and the NHL you are pretty much guaranteed to see a championship series that features a match-up that you had seen in the regular season. Even in the NFL, there is a chance that you can see a repeat match-up in the Super Bowl that was seen in the regular season.

This doesn’t have to be the case in Major League Baseball. If interleague play comes to a halt, every season is guaranteed to have a fresh and new World Series.

The whole concept of interleague play has gone too far by this point anyway. In its infancy stages, it was the AL East vs. NL East, the centrals against each other, and the western divisions went head to head. Again, a great early concept. It got two teams that never played each other, but were geographically connected to finally have a series. That’s great.

Now, we have a mix and match of divisions playing each other with no regard to geography.

So, I ask, what is the point?

If we have taken interleague this far, why not just break down the barrier of National and American League altogether, and just have every team play at least one series with every other team at some point in the season? I mean, we have already ruined the sacredness of the World Series, why not just completely annihilate it altogether?

Interleague play was fun when it started, but it was just a phase. And like any other phase, as time goes by, you grow out of it. I know that I have grown out of this particular phase.

I just wish Major League Baseball would do the same thing.

I don’t care to see the Red Sox and the Cubs play each other unless it’s for a championship ring. And I don’t want to see the Angels and the Dodgers play each other unless a trophy is on the line.

I like baseball the way it used to be, when the games played in the middle of June didn’t mean quite as much as the ones played at the end of October.

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