NEW YORK—Baseball legend and mythical figure A-Rod, the New York Yankee third baseman and three-time American League Most Valuable Player, was declared dead Saturday after it was reported, and later confirmed, that the former Seattle Mariner and Texas Rangers All-Star tested positive for two anabolic steroids during the 2003 baseball season.
A-Rod was 33.
"A-Rod was a person, but a much better baseball player," a statement from the New York Yankees' front office read in part. "We only hope that members of the press will respect our wishes for privacy during this very difficult period. We can assure you that the Yankee organization is going to be haunted by A-Rod's passing for a very, very long time, or at least until his contract expires in 2017."
"Though A-Rod has been taken from us, his impact on this team has been greater in the past few days than it has ever been before," the statement continued. "It feels like he's not even gone."
Born in Texas in late 2000 after signing a 10-year, $252 million contract with the Rangers that made him the highest paid baseball player in league history, the idea of A-Rod quickly became one of baseball's most divisive images, thrilling fans with his amazing play while infuriated them with his,artificial persona.
The loss of A-Rod comes as a shock to those in the sporting community and to baseball fans across the nation, many of whom had hoped that A-Rod—the youngest player to ever hit 500 home runs and arguably the greatest all-around baseball player of his generation—would surpass Barry Bonds' career total of 762 home runs without resorting to the use of performance enhancing drugs, thereby restoring credibility and dignity to sports' most cherished record.
A-Rod's untimely end—coming as it did in the prime of his career, just as it seemed he was poised to usher in a brand-new era of baseball on the strength of his God-given physical talents alone—has forever destroyed that hope.
As of press time, the Yankees, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, are not planning any type of formal tribute to honor their fallen star's memory. In addition, when asked if the jersey belonging to the 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, multiple Gold Glove Award recipient, and 12-time American League All-Star would be retired in Yankee Stadium, or even if his bust would one day be enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame, no comment was forthcoming from either the Yankees or Hall of Fame voters.
"I talked to [A-Rod] the day before he went to his reward, and he sounded completely fine," New York Yankee manager Joe Girardi said. "He said he was working out and looking forward to the start of the new season. And then I heard the news on Saturday, and I was just floored. Now that A-Rod is no longer with us, it's like this season doesn't even matter."
"I'm sure he's in a better place," Girardi continued. "Then again, probably not."
While there is no evidence to suggest foul play, some in the baseball community have speculated that A-Rod actually succumbed to self-inflicted injuries. Immediately after the tragedy was announced, former baseball player and fellow 40/40 club member Jose Canseco told reporters that he saw A-Rod's demise coming a mile away.
"There is no doubt in my mind that he did this to himself," Canseco said. "All the warning signs were there: the surprising power from a shortstop, the spike in home runs, the mood swings where he acted like a complete idiot. The guy has been knocking on death's door since 2003, and everyone wanted to pretend like it wasn't true. I'm not going to get into it too much here because the rest will be in my book coming out next month."
Added Canseco: "Trust me, Albert Pujols will be dead inside a year."
Even former Yankee teammate Derek Jeter agreed with Canseco, saying that while he sends his condolences to A-Rod's family and friends—"if he even has any of those"—he had known that A-Rod was a time bomb waiting to go off.
"Unfortunately, I didn't do anything, because, well, I know it's not proper to speak ill of the dead, but now that he's gone I can say this for the record: I didn't really like the guy," Jeter said. "I never liked him. He was a jerk, a fake. The only thing he had going for him was his unlimited potential and tremendous on-field ability, but now that he's been taken from us that really doesn't mean anything."
Even A-Rod's final words, spoken on the eve of his death—"You'll have to talk to the Union…. I'm not saying anything"—were characteristic of his inability to be genuinely human.
A-Rod is survived by 33-year-old Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez, a divorced father of two who is currently in therapy and who, despite being in extremely good physical condition and possessing the ability to hit 500-foot home runs, has no future in baseball whatsoever.