Having enjoyed his best baseball in years last season, Alex Rodriguez, 40, begins his 22nd major-league season today as the Yankees face the Astros. A few years ago, no one could have seen this coming. And so we could think of no better time to revisit a piece we posted a few years ago, when things looked much bleaker for the nothing-if-not-enigmatic slugger. Heckuva career, Al.
Let’s face it: the “crimes” of Alex Rodriguez aren’t true felonies. In a time when athletes engage in drunk driving, dog fighting and spousal abuse, his most lawless offense is a little illegal high-stakes poker. That said, no jock has proved to be so annoying, for such an extended period of time, that it’s physically impossible not to despise him.
As MLB finally suspends him through 2014, we count down the most irritating incidents from the most aggravating career in sports history.
10. Money For Nothin’
It takes a unique man to get a record 10-year, $252-million contract. It takes an even unique-er one to decide, “This isn’t enough.” And it takes A-Rod to have his agent Scott Boras announce to the world they are ripping up that quarter-of-a-billion-dollar insult during Game 4 of the 2007 World Series. (It goes without saying he wasn’t playing in it.) Don’t worry, it ends well: A-Rod soon got a new 10-year deal for a more palatable $275 million.
9. Strong Strippers
Professional athletes, who are wealthy, famous and travel constantly, are not always faithful to their spouses. (We were shocked, too.) Still, few jock marriages have crumbled quite so messily as A-Rod’s when, after tabloids ran photos of him having a night on the town with a stripper, it was revealed he loved strip clubs and allegedly had a particular fondness for “she-male muscular type” gals. Because if you’re going to shred your marital bonds, do it with power.
8. Something About Derek
For a man who’s dated half of Hollywood, Derek Jeter has remained an impressively private guy. He doesn’t discuss his personal life or talk smack publicly; he just goes out and plays and occasionally wins World Series titles. Periodically A-Rod drags him into the spotlight, usually by uttering something insulting (“You never say ‘Don’t let Derek beat us’”) before gushing about how amazing Derek really is (“How can I ever dog Derek Jeter? It’s impossible”), showing A-Rod may not be the most beloved Yankee, but he is the most passive-aggressive.
7. Slap Happy
A-Rod’s slapping of the ball from the glove of Boston’s Bronson Arroyo captured everything that his opponents hate about him: it’s cheating, but beyond that it’s… slapping the ball? Seriously? It also symbolized the frustrations New York fans have with him, as the play resulted in an out while the Yankees went on to lose the game and the 2004 ALCS to the Red Sox. That’s right: dirty and ineffective.
6. Swinging for the… First Base Seats?
A-Rod has seen many low points in the postseason, none lower than 2012, as the Yankees benched him in key situations. Searching for ways to amuse himself that didn’t involve playing the game, he settled on passing a ball to Australian swimsuit model Kyna Treacy (right), who was seated near the Yankees’ dugout, to get her phone number. The Yanks were eliminated, but he got the digits. Score!
5. Living With the Material Girl
As if his interest in stripping she-males wasn’t enough, reportedly the point of no return for A-Rod’s marriage was his affair with Madonna. (Seriously, A-Rod, any time you’re following in the footsteps of Jose Canseco, stop walking.) While denying it at the time, Madonna has since said she’s “pretty sure he has a very large photograph of me lying on a horse.” Whether a sexual euphemism or an actual picture, that’s just disturbing.
4. Horsing Around
Speaking of equines, it’s never been confirmed, but rumor has it A-Rod commissioned a portrait of himself as, yes, a centaur. And he may have placed this beast above his bed. (Yes, just like Stan Musial and Ted Williams did before him.) The most damning part of the story: the fact that, upon hearing this, America went, “That totally sounds like something A-Rod would do!”
3. Snack Daddy
The French Revolution started for less. While a horrified nation watched, A-Rod sat in his Super Bowl luxury box as Cameron Diaz fed him popcorn, in the process sending the message, “My sense of entitlement is greater than you peasants can possibly imagine.” It was enough to make even the most hardline Wall Street conservative wonder if socialism’s not so bad, after all.
2. Drug Shrug, Part 1
After the 2009 revelation that he had tested positive for steroids in 2003, A-Rod admitted he juiced for a three-year period with the Texas Rangers. Describing himself as being “young”, “naive”, and “stupid” (at the time in question, he was in his late 20s), he apologized for his behavior. He was never linked to banned substances again. Except for that time when…
1. Drug Shrug, Part 2
A-Rod has insisted all documents linking him to Anthony Bosch and Bosch’s Biogenesis clinic are “not legitimate.” Presumably, the accounts of Bosch going to A-Rod’s Miami mansion every few weeks and injecting him are also devoid of legitimacy. After all, it’s not like A-Rod’s ever been known to do anything dishonest, questionable or just plain weird in the past. Oh wait…