If you go by regular-season numbers alone, A-Rod is without a doubt a first-ballot Hall of Famer. His career stats are right there with the immortals of the game. From that standpoint, you could consider him one of the greatest ballplayers ever.
And, yet, right now, he is a longshot for the Hall of Fame.
That's because everything Rodriguez has accomplished -- everything he was, is, and could have been -- is overshadowed by the 2013 saga that now has followers more likely to refer to him as A-Roid than A-Rod. Fair or not, unlike any of the other dramas he's starred in over the years, most notably the ones staged during his 10-year tenure with the New York Yankees, this one isn't going away.
Neither is the debate about whether or not Rodriguez is a Hall of Famer. We're still years away -- even with the pending suspension his career might not be over -- of Rodriguez being on the ballot. But it's clear that if voting occurred today, he would not get in.
Here are five reasons why the once surefire Hall of Famer won't be heading to Cooperstown anytime soon:
The Steroid Saga: From the Black Sox to Pete Rose to Biogenesis, A-Rod is now caught up in the latest of MLB's high-profile suspensions and/or bans. Rodriguez is now defined by the well-chronicled steroid scandal he's embroiled in, including his use, prior admission, suspected continued use, and current suspension (211 games) that's pending. That's the story.
Last summer, as A-Rod battled to return from hip surgery, his real battle was taking place off the field as the slugger was getting slammed from all corners, from Bud Selig to the Yankees' front office to the fans and media.
An arbitrator should rule soon on how many games of his suspension he'll have to serve. No matter what the result is, his reputation is tarnished. Not because of Major League Baseball and not because of the New York Yankees. Because of Alex Rodriguez. When it gets to points like this, the Hall of Fame isn't calling.
The Proof: Look at what's happening to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two of the greatest players ever. For the second straight year, they didn't come close to getting enough votes to gain entry into Cooperstown. No one appears ready to forgive, or to look past their alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Consider all the evidence MLB says it has on A-Rod and then realize that Mike Piazza didn't get in for a second time because of suspicions. If that's the case, Rodriguez is in far more trouble.
When It Matters Most: As good as Rodriguez's statistics are -- 654 home runs, 1,969 runs batted in, 2,939 hits, eight 40-plus home run seasons, three Most Valuable Player Awards -- the postseason and big-spot failures are part of the package.
Aside from 2009, when A-Rod clubbed six home runs, he hasn't been a big-time player in October. In fact, he's been bad. As bad as it got in 2006, when he was moved down to the No. 8 spot in the order, nothing comes close to the humiliation evident during the 2012 postseason when A-Rod struck out 12 times in 25 at-bats. A year earlier, he went 2-for-18 with six strikeouts. His postseason average (.263) is almost 40 points below his regular-season average. That's a large gap, and it only begins to explain his October struggles.
Easy Target: When you make as much money as A-Rod has made, you have a target on your back. His first big contract, prior to the 2001 season, was for $252 million. His next one, after the 2007 season, was for $275 million. Even if you're perfect -- and he's far from perfect -- people are going to be chomping at the bit to knock you.
With A-Rod, much of it has been deserved. No doubt, though, the money makes him an easy target. It would be nearly impossible to live up to those contracts. But how ironic that early in his career he lived up to the hype and expectations; it was the money that ultimately got him.
Public Perception: Rodriguez has never been beloved, at least not here in New York. This has always been Derek Jeter's team, but, for so many reasons, a large contingent of fans never seemed to warm to A-Rod. Even before any of his New York scandals, this was never going to be his city. It's a feeling shared by many fans and plenty in the media.
There will never be a passionate call to get him to Cooperstown. There are too many who don't mind seeing him down.
Charles Costello has followed the Yankees for 30 years and was a beat reporter assigned to cover the team during the 1997 and 1998 seasons. He writes about the Yankees and New York Giants on the Yahoo Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @CFCostello.
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