COMMENTARY | Following the 1995 Refuse to Lose run that brought the Seattle Mariners their first postseason, fans around Seattle had a sense of jubilation. The future was bright.
The Mariners had legitimate superstar players on their team: Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, and, of course, Alex Rodriguez. These three players had the potential to carry the Mariners for many years to come, but then everything changed.
In 1998, the Mariners traded star pitcher Randy Johnson to the Houston Astros. In February of 2000, before the start of the season, the Mariners traded Ken Griffey Jr. to the Cincinnati Reds. Two of the best players in Mariners history were now playing for other teams. There was disappointment surrounding these two departures, particularly with Ken Griffey Jr., but his desire to live closer to home was an honorable one that fans respected.
The entire hopes and dreams of Seattle Mariners fans were now pinned on one player: Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod had been in the Mariners' system since 1993, when they picked him as the first overall player in the 1993 draft. He played his first full season in 1996, and his talent was explosive. That season, A-Rod hit 36 home runs, drove in 123 runs, and led the American League with a .358 batting average.
Over the next four seasons, Alex Rodriguez averaged a .313 batting average for the Mariners, and he earned four Silver Slugger Awards. In 2000, as the lone superstar, Rodriguez hit 41 home runs, had 132 RBIs and drew 100 walks. The Mariners made it to the postseason that year, and A-Rod put up a valiant effort, batting .409 and earning a .773 slugging percentage. Still, the New York Yankees crushed the Mariners' postseason dreams.
At the end of the 2000 season, Alex Rodriguez became a free agent and signed the most lucrative contract in sports history (at the time) to play for the Texas Rangers. The 10-year contract was worth a staggering $252 million. Just like that, the player whom Seattle Mariners fans loved and had pinned their dreams upon became the player every Seattle fan loved to hate. Rodriguez left a city that loved him for money; it was the ultimate display of greed.
It has been several years since Rodriguez has worn a Seattle Mariners uniform, but the hatred and feelings of disappointment have never ceased.
As a Texas Ranger, and then as a New York Yankee, boos could be heard every time he stepped up to the plate. Fans would bring paper Monopoly money to the game and throw it in the air when A-Rod's name was called. With time, you would expect the feeling of betrayal to lessen, but, instead, it grows stronger.
Rodriguez has enjoyed a successful career. In the years following his departure, he has racked up an additional four Silver Sluggers, two Gold Glove Awards, four Hank Aaron Awards, and has been a three-time MVP. He also earned a World Series ring in 2009 with the Yankees.
The Seattle Mariners, on the other hand, have continuously been a disappointment. They had one year of success after A-Rod left, in 2001, but since then have failed to make the postseason and, more often than not, have failed to even achieve a winning record. The disappointment of the Mariners, coupled with the success of A-Rod, only strengthens the hatred fans express for this once-loved player. In essence, the Seattle Mariners fans lost hope the day A-Rod left.
This year, fans won't have a chance to boo A-Rod. They won't have the satisfaction of showering their displeasure in the forms of paper money as he steps up to the plate. Rodriguez will be out until after the All-Star break following hip surgery.
You get one year off, A-Rod, but expect the hatred again next season.
A native Washingtonian, Brianna Brooks is an avid sports enthusiast who has been following the Seattle Mariners since the "Refuse to Lose" run in 1995. From the Kingdome to Safeco Field, she has experienced the ebb and flow of the Mariners' seasons and has translated her passion for baseball into freelance writing.
- Sports & Recreation
- Seattle Mariners
- Alex Rodriguez
- The Mariners