Commentary

A-Rod can still turn things around

Updated: February 10, 2009, 5:15 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

As a baseball lover, I've been asked about my feelings over the A-Rod situation.

There are many folks familiar with the relationship I have had with him. I've known the All-Star for quite a while.

This is not the young man I first met when he was with the Seattle Mariners. He is a totally different guy. Back then, his love for baseball was so unique and special. He cared about others.

The person I see now has become part of a soap opera ever since he put on a Yankees uniform.

It was so sad to sit there and watch him talk about his use of steroids over a three-year period while with the Texas Rangers. If there was anything I had thought about Alex, he was totally pure. It was about his work ethic, sense of pride and doing things the right way.

I was absolutely devastated to hear the news that he is just like many others, heading for the Hall of Shame instead of the Hall of Fame.

This kid is so talented and worked so hard to put himself into a position of being called the greatest to ever play the game.

There were a lot of words, all sorts of rhetoric, as he sat down with our Peter Gammons, who did a great job in presenting all the possible concepts. I do have to give Alex credit for saying he was stupid and naive, how he made mistakes and now he wants to give back and help others.

Here's what I would advise him to do to show sincerity. ... Let it be more than just rhetoric:

  • 1. Tell baseball to take away those 150 home runs he hit in Texas. Wipe them off his record and then judge him over the next nine years of his contract with the Yankees. Then determine if he is a Hall of Famer.
  • 2. Tell Rangers owner Tom Hicks that he will donate the money he made in those three seasons to charity. A-Rod deceived Hicks, and I don't blame the owner for his quotes about feeling betrayed. He was so disheartened by what has happened.
  • 3. On days off with the Yankees, go out and speak to Boys and Girls clubs or students to make sure he shares with young people the idea that they shouldn't follow his path.
  • It is nice to admit you are wrong, but go out and prove it. Those three factors are specifics and not just generalities.

    It was a disappointing day in my household when this news broke. My family put him on a higher pedestal than most. I had so many people over the years tell me he was A-Fraud, and I would go out and defend him. I would fight tooth and nail, and some people at ESPN disputed me.

    I thought he was one special superstar.

    There is enough time to get his life back on the right track. Get rid of the guy who has been involved in so many soap operas involving his personal life. He became tabloid fodder on a regular basis.

    He should return to being the guy who loved playing the game and doing things the right way. It would be great if he got back with the people that were vital in his life as a youngster. He should get away from those who tell him what he wants to hear.

    Hopefully the story of his life will change. He can be an example by doing things the right way moving forward, turning away from the Hall of Shame and back toward to the Hall of Fame.

    Dick Vitale

    College Basketball analyst
    Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.