Decided to change format a little today and only post one Pudge card. Today we see Ivan on his 1996 Circa card, number 92.
I always liked these cards, even though they never really caught on. Probably it was the small blurbs about each player that appeared on the front on the cards. This one has a quote from Sports Illustrated saying the Rodriguez had the "best arm in baseball."
That statement is true. That's what caught my attention and drew me into collecting Ivan. His defense. His bat was pretty impressive and the speed was unusual for a catcher but it was his glove that seemed to gleam. Like a beacon it helped draw me back to following the game after the strikes of the mid-90's. Pudge was good, very good behind the plate.
When the steroids scandals started breaking I was horrified as one icon after another fell. I felt somewhat worried that perhaps Ivan might be among the guilty. There was no proof though. A mention in a book written by a bitter celebrity boxer didn't count as proof in my mind. The Mitchell report came out with no mention of Pudge. I was elated. Perhaps he had been clean. Maybe the man who gunned down Rickey Henderson with room to spare did it naturally. I relaxed a bit.
Then came the Alex Rodriguez tremor. Following that, AP did an interview with Pudge. Ivan, eager to sign with a team for 2009, answered every question. All except for one. The reporter asked him if his name was on the list with Alex's. He answered "Only God knows." What? Why no denial? Maybe because he just didn't want to seem guilty. Perhaps because he did fail. God isn't the only one who knows, so does Pudge.
Now I am at a crossroads. I don't condone cheating. I teach my son that cheating is wrong and that honesty is the only way. I just saw a co-worker lose a job that pays much less than Ivan's, for doing both. I currently have 1,447 different Rodriguez cards along with numerous figurines, posters, magazine covers, a book cover, and assorted other paraphernalia. The collection has taken much time, money, and effort to compile. My four year old son likes to wear his hat backwards "to be like Pudge."
I feel like Ivan looks on today's card. I just popped out to end the game with the bases loaded. I can't back up but I hesitate to continue to promote a possible cheater by my actions. With a heavy heart I am suspending my pursuit of Ivan Rodriguez cards. This is a suspension, not a complete abandonment. I will continue to keep lists and will trade for those I need that are offered. I will not buy any more unless I need them for my Rangers team sets. I'll leave it at that until one of two things happen; either Ivan clearly and convincingly denies PED use or I see proof that he used. One will free me up to continue my collection, the other will force me to make a hard decision.
Come on Pudge, help a guy out here. Did you use any sort of performance enhancing drugs?