COMMENTARY: Alex Rodriguez’s baseball cards won’t recover from suspension, scandal

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary & Opinion

At one point, he was projected to be the next player atop the career home run list — the guy who would push aside Barry Bonds and his joyless 762 home runs, making his mark like no player had ever done before.

Alex Rodriguez has done just that.

He’s done just that by becoming the highest-paid and most-successful player ever banned for performance-enhancing drugs. He was suspended on Monday for both evidence of extensive use, according to Major League Baseball, as well as his actions to obstruct baseball’s investigation into Biogenesis that led to a dozen other suspensions on Monday and Ryan Braun‘s suspension in July.

While Bonds’ career ended under the BALCO investigation’s shadow, he never faced a suspension from MLB let alone served one. While Bonds was later convicted on obstruction of justice charges, he never admitted what might have been behind his elusiveness — though we probably can all figure it out. On the other hand, A-Rod admitted he used steroids and/or PEDs in the past and limited it to a certain timeframe, saying that those days were gone.  MLB’s investigation indicated otherwise. Now, he’s perhaps a two-time liar where fans — and collectors — have been fooled once, maybe twice.

But three times? That won’t happen.

Banned for 211 games starting on Thursday — the remainder of this season following a small appeals window and all of next year — Rodriguez’s career just might be over with this entire mess being more memorable than any of his 647 career home runs, the benchmark that once optimistically defined him as destined for greatness.

At age 37, Rodriguez is fifth on the career home run list, nestled between Ken Griffey Jr.‘s 630 and Willie Mays‘ 660, and his recent seasons have been a shell of his three-time AL MVP self. Coming off an injury that has nixed this entire year, Rodriguez likely will make his debut tonight in Chicago as the Yankees have said they will play him if he’s ready. (He can play while he appeals.)

On cardboard, interest in A-Rod has diminished over time and perhaps accelerated of late. His 1994 SP Rookie Card is one that had consistently pulled in a couple-thousand apiece for high-grade specimens. It now struggles and can be found raw for less than $10. His past days as a spokesman for Topps and appearances on boxes and wrappers of baseball cards are firmly in the past as he’ll now join the likes of Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and so many others on the hobby scrap-heap when it comes to interest now vs. during their ball-playing primes.

Not long ago, Rodriguez appeared poised to be one of the top players in the hobby because of his successes on the field — despite the baggage that came with his record-setting $275-million contract signed back in 2007. Simply put, not long ago Rodriguez was a player who wasn’t liked but at least he performed.

But now? The show is over. The reality we saw wasn’t real at all — in more ways than one.

Alex Rodriguez’s image and his baseball cards won’t be able to recover — no matter how long he plays or how many home runs he hits.

If he ever plays at all.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

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  1. MeMyselfAndI
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I feel at this point, the circus that is ARod is valued into the cards. Though he’s usually make the wrong decisions, he attracts so much scrutiny either way, no matter what he does. There’s always a play in that.

  2. James
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Just makes my vintage Hank Aaron collection even more valuable. The true home run king, now and forever.

  3. Richard
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps. I would like to point out Mark McGwire’s autograph still sell quite well and Arod may yet rehabilitate his reputation or at least get people to like him.

  4. Doug
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Just say NO to A-Roids! His wax should be used as fire starter. Don’t support a liar and a cheater.

  5. Yankees4671
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I was a fan when he came to Texas. But after watching him everyday and listening to his interviews, I soured on him. Never once did I see him sign autographs or anything related to the community. He is so full of himself & probably the most selfish player in the game today if not the history of the game. Even Reggie Jackson realized, he was not bigger than the game. (Not that Reggie got into much trouble like this.) Baseball was fine before A-Rod & will be fine after he is a distant memory. For him to say that his Yankee teammates wanted him back, I do not recall any player current or former coming to his defense. George Steinbrenner is probably rolling over in his grave. What an embarassment to a great storied franchise.

    So many lessons could have been learned from Pete Rose & Andy Pettite. A-Rod & his advisors should have paid more attention to how those guys handled their situations and the ending result. Pete denied & denied before coming clean & look where it got him. Andy admitted the truth & no one holds it against him today. I think Nelson Cruz paid attention, time will only tell how we will view him in a couple of years.

  6. Robert Braxton
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Perfectly written article.

  7. Cory Furlong
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Good article. I have never been a big A-Rod fan but I hate to see baseball go through this. I think long term his hobby value will be stable but no where near his pre PED values.

  8. Joe Cecil
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    MLB does not need him or this type of activity in the profession. That does not mean abandon his soul either. Help the guy recuperate from his addictions and let that be the end to his legacy.

  9. Joe
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    A-Rod has made a mess of this whole situation. Cover ups and lies. Now he is going to drag it out even longer. This boils down to him wanting his money that he got (from his PED usage while in Texas to get a huge contract with the Yankees). I wish MLB would release what they have in full. That would be the only way we will know if he is 100% used PEDs and then covered up. I love baseball and just wish I can turn on ESPN and get scores and see the highlights. GO CUBS

  10. David Brewer
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    I could careless, I will still buy his cards, especially if everyone is all booty hurt and wants to sell his cards for ultra cheap. Ill snatch em up

  11. Ron Atkinson
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    great and spot on commentary Chris. It was good meeting you at the National!

    Ron Atkinson

  12. Jeramie
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    It may not be the direction A-Rod wanted to go, but he has now gone down in history and will never be forgotten. I’m really sick of baseball being the sport that is under a microscope for PEDs. They have been and always will be in EVERY sport. You think a football player of the same caliber would be treated this way? NO!!

  13. JeffB
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    ARod was/is in a no-win situation. His only true action was to appeal, which he is doing. Since his main issue is the 211 games (he wants that number reduced) when the arbitrator does actually reduce that number, then he has won.

    I don’t think any of us would walk away from 100 million or whatever is still owed to ARod. And there are winners in the scenario as it is playing itself out:

    There will be more people that will come just to Boo him, both on the road and at Yankee Stadium.

    No matter what happens during a game, ARod will be the story. (Pettite got KILLED last night and not one reporter cared…takes pressure off of the entire team)

    Last nights Yankees game was the HIGHEST RATED game of the season on YES.

    He’s still the best 3rd baseman the Yankees have put out there in 2013. His numbers really could help the Yankees win more games.

  14. Brent
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    As unlikely a scenario as it is, if A-Rod plays through the rest of the season while his appeal is waiting to be heard and puts up MVP-type numbers pro-rated over, of course, and helps the Yankees come back and win the World Series, I think SOME people will get back on his bandwagon. It will never be like it was during the Seattle days, or even when people were pulling for him to be the next “clean” home run king, but let’s be honest here — sports fans are a fickle bunch.

    Imagine the headlines if A-Rod were to win the World Series MVP award and Bud would have to hand the trophy to him.

    Again, highly unlikely… but this is baseball and stranger things have happened.

  15. Posted August 7, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    “George Steinbrenner is rolling over in his grave”

    Really? The same Steinbrenner who was suspended by MLB for 2 years (even longer than A-Rod’s proposed suspension, I might add)? Maybe invoke Lou Gehrig. But save us putting Steinbrenner on the pedestal, he was no saint himself.

  16. Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    What upsets me more than anything is seeing card values for losers like Arod higher than legit studs like Frank Thomas. These cheaters have forever ruined and distorted the integrity of the game and the history of what should be considered a truly great player. RIP Arod’s career.

  17. Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    What upsets me more than anything is seeing card values for losers like Arod higher than legit studs like Frank Thomas. These cheaters have forever ruined and distorted the integrity of the game and the history of what should be considered a truly great player. RIP Arod’s career.

  18. sethy
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    arod is the greatest ball player of all time. he is a class act and deserves more love.

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