By: William Earl Robinson
At the end of this week one of the most controversial players in the sport of baseball is going to retire. Alex Rodriguez is finally going to hang up his cleats and with that action will finally relinquish the hostage situation that he was employing on the Yankees organization. Also retiring after 10 short years is a different sort of player a player who is retiring way ahead of his time. Prince Fielder is hanging up his cleats and with that action baseball loses an amazing ambassador for the game and a wonderful energetic personality for fans to enjoy. There couldn’t be a more stark contrast between any two players.
Three years ago, my wife and I took our daughters to go watch the Detroit Tigers play the Houston Astros in Detroit and at that time Prince Fielder was playing for them. This was the first time that I had the fortune of seeing him play in person and at that time we had fairly decent seats behind their dugout. So I could see him fairly well. The one thing that stood out most to me was his gigantic smile. I never stopped seeing him smile that entire night. He cut up with the fans that were behind the dugout, signed autographs and in general was a pleasure to watch. One thing that was obvious was that Prince Fielder loved the game of baseball. He hustled and cheered on his team mates and had a wonderful game.
I watched Alex Rodriguez play last year when he and the Yankees took on the White Sox. Alex also was having a great game, but you couldn’t tell it from his attitude. I couldn’t see him very well having seats in the outfield but you could tell everything you needed to from his body language. He was miserable playing baseball and he pouted the entire time he was out there. Finally he took himself out of the game after the sixth inning after pulling up at second on a double that could have easily been a triple. He didn’t hustle once during the entire game, he was walked twice and nearly walked to first base both times and to me it was obvious that he was just there to try and collect his paycheck. In one game it was an excellent microcosm of his entire career, he was a lazy cheater who could have been the greatest of all time but honestly didn’t have any love for the game at all.
It’s a shame that Prince Fielder is being forced to retire so soon and it’s also very ironic that he is being forced to retire at the same time as Alex Rodriguez. These two players couldn’t be any more different from one another. On one hand you have a player who is being forced out of baseball by injuries due to him being naturally overweight and putting extra stress on his body and on the other a player being forced to retire due to the injuries and toll that the drugs he used to cheat put on his body. On one hand you have one of the most genuine players that I have ever watched play the game, and on the other you have one of the most fake. On one hand you have someone who you could tell had a true passion for the game, and on the other someone who it feels like just played for a paycheck.