In the 40-year history of the Seattle Mariners, one player has enraged fans more than all others combined. It is only the ones we truly love, that can break our hearts. But let’s try to remember the good times as we introduce our shortstop.
With all due respect to Omar Vizquel, Carlos Guillen, and Spike Owen, this is perhaps the easiest position to fill on the all-time roster, if you can stay objective. Alex Rodriguez is perhaps the greatest shortstop in Major League Baseball History, and as such, takes the top spot on our roster as the Mariners greatest shortstop.
Rodriguez’s career is a tricky topic to handle with some Mariner fans, so let’s start with the undeniable facts.
A-Rod made his debut in 1994 and played just enough in 1995 to burn a whole season of service time, which would cost the team dearly in 2001.
He became a full-time player in 1996 entering his age 20 season. He proceeded to slash .358/.414/ .631 with 36 homers and 123 RBIs. A-Rod led the American League in doubles (54), runs (141), average (.358) and total bases (.379).
Over his next four seasons, Rodriguez proved that not only was he not a flash in the pan, he was on a course headed straight to Cooperstown.
From 1996-2000, A-Rod averaged 37 home runs and 25 stolen bases a season, while slashing .315/.381/.575 and playing elite defense at short.
In his five full seasons as a Mariner, Rodriguez fWAR of 35.6 was 3rd best in all of baseball. He was narrowly beaten out by Jeff Bagwell and Barry Bonds.
Then, the “Golden Boy” lost some of his shine. After the 2000 season, Alex Rodriguez left the Seattle Mariners to sign the biggest contract in professional sports history.
After the 2000 season, Alex Rodriguez left the Seattle Mariners to sign the biggest contract in professional sports history.
Considering the backlash he caught from Seattle fans, one might assume he walked over maybe a million or so dollars. After all, the Mariners reportedly offered him a 7-year deal worth $180 Million. How much more could he make? As it turns out, about $70 million more.
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A-Rod was now dead to the Mariners faithful. He was shunned and called a “phony” and “sell-out” years before his name would become permanently scarred by PED use. And why? For taking a $70 million raise.
One of the greatest faults about the Mariners fanbase is also one of its greatest strengths: This city loves its stars. It will, with almost no exception, forgive and forget all the wrongdoings in a player’s past. We embrace the stars who play for our team and claim them as “ours”.
We give players chance after chance to redeem themselves and defend “our” guys to the very end. Except for A-Rod. Why is this?
The Patron Saint of the Seattle Mariners, Ken Griffey Jr, abandoned the team…twice. The first time he demanded a trade to the Reds and would refuse to accept a trade to anywhere but Cincy, severely damaging the Mariners ability to recoup the greatest return.
The second time, after napping his way through a pinch-hitting opportunity, he just left the team in the middle of the 2010 season and announced his retirement. He was forgiven both times, with almost universal praise of how he handled both situations.
That’s why this is how we remember Griffey:
Honestly, this is how we should choose to remember Ken Griffey Jr.
Why not Alex Rodriguez?
The sad truth is: if the team wouldn’t have screwed up A-Rod’s service time, the 2001 Mariners would have featured Alex Rodriguez at shortstop. It’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t have broken the all-time win record. They may have brought the first World Series trophy to Seattle too.
Had he won a World Series in Seattle, or been a bigger part of the miracle 1995 team, would we remember him differently? Probably. All we know is this:
Love him or hate him, the facts are undeniable. Alex Rodriguez is the greatest Shortstop in Seattle Mariners history, and it’s not even close.