As Alex Rodriguez heads into the twilight of his career, many fans and pundits have asked of his alleged PED use: Was it worth it? But if the slugger-turned-villian has regrets in the end, it may be his decision to sign two record-breaking contracts, first with Texas and then the Yankees.
After all, those contracts built expectations nearly as high as the dollar figure. He would be the savior of baseball, the hitter who broke all of the steroid-laden records and do it cleanly. And somehow, it seemed everyone was hoping, would wipe out any stench of one of the most controversial eras in recent years in baseball off of fans' memories.
Between those expectations and that money, said one former major leaguer, it also built an unprecedented target on his back.
"There's a lot of scrutiny that comes with having a big contract," Kurt Ainsworth told The PostGame. "One of the downsides is people love to take shots at you. I always say it's unfair for the players who get caught and crushed by the media when there were so many players who get away with it. It's really unfair for the chosen five to take the fall for all the others who have used (banned drugs)."
When Ainsworth, a former pitcher whose career was cut short by injuries, was in San Francisco he watched a former star slugger go through a similar thing that Alex Rodriguez is facing now. Barry Bonds, in the final years of his career, plagued by steroid accusations hearing jeers and answering questions over his involvement with performance enhancing drugs every step he took.
Bonds, he points out, had one clear advantage over Rodriguez: He had never admitted to using anything. (Bonds told a federal grand jury that he used "the clear" and "the cream" from BALCO but said he didn't think they were steroids.)
"The unfortunate thing about (Rodriguez) is he’s already been caught before and admitted it," he told ThePostGame. "The one thing you can say about (Bonds) is he hasn’t been proven to do anything … I mean you can look at the numbers and make your own conclusions."
While baseball has not rid of its steroid problem yet, Ainsworth, who now is a part-owner of popular bat company Marucci Sports pointed out there are still players who make the decision not to use them.
After all, when he was plagued with injures "(using PEDs to recover was) obviously something that crossed my mind and I made a decision to never do it," he said. "And that’s probably why I started a bat company."
According to multiple reports, a decision on Rodriguez's future with Major League Baseball is coming Monday.