When you write a story about Alex Rodriguez and good sportsmanship, anyone familiar with the Yankees player might assume they know how he will figure into the narrative.
But A-Rod’s past issues don’t serve as an excuse to deprive signed celebrity memorabilia civil treatment. In the wake of a recent career milestone, it isn’t Rodriguez’s sportsmanship that has been called into question. In this particular instance, it’s a fan who is setting himself up to prove that while virtue may not always be its own reward, avarice comes at a cost.
Rodriguez recently hit his 660th home run, tying the great and beloved Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time career home run list. Unlike Mays, Rodriguez reached the milestone under the shadow of his mistakes, including a suspension last year for using performance-enhancing drugs. Largely due to the scandal, the Yankees have declined to pay Rodriguez an ostensibly optional bonus to publicize his new record.
The fan who caught that ball has indicated he has no intention of giving it to A-Rod, despite the efforts of both the Yankees and their opponents, the home team Red Sox. Mike Shuster, the fan in question, declined an offer of signed memorabilia from both teams, choosing instead to hang on to the ball for now. Rodriguez, asked about trying to get the ball back, said, “I haven’t been good at negotiating, so I’m going to quit on that.” (2) For his part, Shuster started a Twitter account soliciting ideas for what he should do with the ball; he has mentioned options ranging from selling it to blowing it up and posting the video of the explosion on YouTube.
For most of us, baseball is something bobby knight memorabilia in between doing other things. But to a major league player – any major league player – the sport is not only a central component of his life, but also the peak of his professional career. The rest of us have many things in our lives more important to us than baseball. Apart from family and other loved ones, a player may have only the game and his achievements within it.