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Hard to imagine that first it was Mark Texiera who decided to retire after the season ended, and almost 48 hours later Alex Rodriguez decided to walk away from the game himself. In what has been a bland season full of woes, it is now left to reminisce of the memories that Alex has left behind whether good or bad. When you look back on what he has accomplished with the Mariners, Rangers, and Yankees; whether you love him or hate him, no doubt A-Rod left a legacy that no one could possibly match.

His 6'3 230 pound stature he almost seemed like a larger than life kind of character from afar. Despite the unheralded talent he possessed at an early age, he was so misunderstood from the media that it seemed he couldn't help himself but be involved in the news no matter what. Like in wrestling, he played the perfect "heel" role. No matter how good he was and the accolades he collected along the way, you couldn't help but boo him even if he was a part of your own team. However, you can't help but admit that if you are a Yankee fan or a baseball fan in general,  you will miss him because there will never be another player or athlete quite like A-Rod. He was and still is "the most interesting man in the world".  

From being drafted by the Seattle Mariners as the #1 pick in 1993, to making his big league debut on July 8, 1994 at just 18 years old. He had hit 36 HR and drove in 123 runs while hitting .358 which led the American League in his first full time season in the bigs. By the time he was 20, he made his first All-Star team and finished second in the MVP race. You can make the argument that he was quickly becoming the face of baseball and was the best young player in the game. His value on the field permeated throughout the league.  

By the age of 25 it was his financial value which spread throughout his contract when he left Seattle via free agency and went to the Texas Rangers.  Signing a 10-year deal worth $252 million for what was then the most lucrative contract in sports history. By age 27, it was his legacy. As his power numbers catapulted him to super-stardom, the pressure to stay consistent came also. He did not want to carry the burden of possibly being an after thought in baseball. This is when he first turned to (by his telling) performance enhancing drugs to prove that the contract was no fluke.

By age 28 he wanted to win at all costs. When he came to the Bronx via trade, he changed numbers and switched positions to help accommodate Jeter since he was entrenched at shortstop. By age 33, he was known as a fraud. It was confirmed that he had indeed used performance enhancing drugs and denying it all along. He still tried to play it off as being the golden boy of baseball poised to be the new home run king. Also in the process he held one of the strangest and weirdest press conferences ever in the video below.

By age 34, it was his clutch gene. He put together one of the most impressive and amazing hitting clinics in postseason baseball history. Hitting .365 with 6 HR and 18 RBI helping the Yankees win their 27th World Championship in the process.

 By age 37 it was his ego that got the better of him again. This time it was the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drugs scandal that he tried to weasel his way out by blaming, suing, and lying to everyone and anyone to avoid any kind of punishment. Leaving him once again defamed and public enemy #1 by the media and fans alike.

By age 39 it was his comeback. As he returned from the yearlong PED suspension, he hit 33 HR in the process. Combined that with his now contrite attitude he was now back to being liked again. Now by 41 the journey has culminated to this moment. As he is a bench-warmer for the first time in his career, he is stepping away from the game.

What never changed for A-rod was his passion and love for the game. While some may disqualify him because of how he cheated his way to the top, it was his desire combined with his insecurities that made him look to add what was already a five-tool player. His lavish lifestyle and what seemed like a boatload of money made him to be a lighting rod of hate & jealousy. His public image and how he views himself have also rubbed people the wrong way. From his teammates allegedly calling him "A-fraud" behind his back early on, to opponents like Trot Nixon of the Boston Red Sox calling him "a clown" 

At the end of the day, the old saying fall seven times; get up 8 aptly fits to Alex Rodriguez's whole career. In a weird way he has grown a little in front of our eyes. Despite the fact the Yankees tried their best to get away from the disease that A-Rod unfortunately carried with him, he never publicly complained or criticized the Yanks out right. Even though he stuck around for a few years too many, it was only because of his contract with the milestone bonuses added.

His 696 HR places him 4th on the all time list, but his PED usage may keep him out of the Hall of Fame unfortunately. Nonetheless, the impact and legacy he has left on the game is indeed an unforgettable one.

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    Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in 27 years, the New York Yankees have established themselves as sellers at the trade deadline. As a Yankee fan myself it is very hard to imagine that being the case. The Yankees have always been buyers no matter where they are in the division race. But times have changed. With the trade deadline commencing, the Yanks have made it known to us that this season it won't be realistic in reaching a wild card. 

The Yankees who are on the outside looking in with a .505 record at 53-52. With 5.5 games out of the wild card you would think they can make up that ground, but the way the Yanks are looking and how other teams are playing seems more of a pipe dream than reality. They essentially have no shot of reaching the World Series or even making the Wild Card, which was never in the Yanks DNA to wanna give up mid-season. But in trading Chapman and Miller,and now the trade of Carlos Beltran, it does indeed signal the white flag being raised for what has been a forgettable season for the Yankees. No need to fret however, because Cashman is the true winner and one you should thank your lucky stars for.  

Now if your a Yankee fan who is in the mentality of a Derek Jeter or a George Steinbrenner who wants to win the World Series each and every year needs a reevaluation of their fandom quick. The Glory days of the Yanks going to the playoffs every single season and winning a championship 4 times in 5 years is something that is unlikely to happen again. Fans have had to suffer through the games and feel like they are not getting their money's worth. Now some fans have pleaded to the Yankees to sell now while they have the chance and to build the farm system. Seems like Cashman listened to those fans and was very busy at work.

 Cashman during the deadline was able to acquire a top-50 prospects in Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, a top-75 prospect in Justus Sheffield, and Dillion Tate,  who was the fourth overall pick in last year's draft. What looked like a middle-of-the-road farm system, looks to be a top 5 system with an updated roster and fresh young talent. Now you have some hope that the future it appears to look bright for the Yankees. 

Kudos to Brian Cashman who I'm sure made a valuable case to owner Hal Steinbrenner that this is the right thing to do. Now the Yankees appear to be in the driver's seat whether in keeping all of these prospects and developing them, or trade them away for a big name like a Manny Machado or a Chris Sale among others for the Yankees to consider. The possibilities are endless for what Cashman can do with a plethora of talent under him.  

If your a Yankee fan you should be pleased that Cashman is building towards the future in developing potentially another Core 4, or trading those assets for a possible super team. And if that meant sacrificing a Wild Card spot for this year, then the sacrifice was worth pulling the trigger. 

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    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Hall of Fame class of 2021 will now have two headliners awaiting in Springfield with the retirements of Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. Whether you may agree or not, these two have uniquely shared a connection to each other on the basketball court. But who's career was better? Kobe's or Duncan's? In this post, I'll play both sides and give positives and negatives for both. 

Boring Duncan over Sexy Kobe  

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

If you want someone to build a franchise around and be an ambassador to the NBA, then Duncan is your guy. Duncan took pay-cuts and willingly played less minutes that allowed Gregg Popovich to orchestrate a fully loaded squad. He did whatever it took to win at any cost even if it meant playing less and less, but still managed to contribute despite his growing age. He could've easily accepted a max deal for $100+ million, but he wasn't all about the money or getting that record breaking contract. If it meant to better the team, he would accept any role offered to him to get closer to that coveted championship. 

Duncan debuted a year after Kobe did in 1997. Since Duncan's debut, the Spurs made the playoffs in every single season and finished either 1st or 2nd in their division. The statistics speak for themselves in the kind of player he was. He led the Spurs to 5 championships in a span of 15 years which is a dynasty. Now a Bryant supporter may say that Duncan had more help around him and better coaching than Kobe did in recent years, which is absolutely true. But that still doesn't take away the fact that free agents wanted to play for Duncan and the Spurs. Free agents avoided Kobe like the plague; (just ask Dwight Howard how it worked out for him). Duncan had Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, and David Robinson in the beginning of Duncan's career (Robinson was on the decline when Duncan arrived). With the exception of maybe Robinson and as of recently Leonard, Duncan never really had a top-10 caliber player around him. Which should tell you of Duncan's greatness and just how truly special that team was for years.

Another case you can make for Duncan that gives him the edge is longevity and the better ending. Kobe's last 3 years was brutal and almost cringe-worthy to watch. He became the least efficient shooter, while the injuries started to succumb to Kobe's frail and fragile body. Duncan on the other hand still contributed big time for the Spurs. He was a valuable rim protector and a great rebounder and even won a championship in 2014. So if you want longevity, consistency, someone who will be a team first guy, and wants to do whatever it can to win, Duncan is your man to build around.

Kobe over Duncan any day.

If there was a Mt. Rushmore of NBA legends, these two will definitely be in the conversation among the all time greats. There is no debate about that. What is the debate as to who's the better player among these two. If you are a casual NBA fan who wants sexiness and pzazz, then Kobe Bryant is the better player. 

Kobe is arguably the greatest shooting guard since MJ. In 20 NBA seasons, he averaged 25 points per game, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists a game. He's won 2 scoring titles in his 20-year career and is the Lakers' all-time leader in points. While you may say he was a "ball hog" he averaged 4.7 assists a game for his career and had two seasons where he averaged at least 6 assists in a game. He is ranked 29th all time in assists which is the highest among shooting guards with a total of 6,306. Kobe also was the top defender on his team and would often defend the opponent's top guard while also being asked to carry the load on offense as well. Duncan's two way game is billed as one of the greatest in the game, but Bryant you can argue is underrated while he posses eerie similar accolades. He was 1st team All-Defense 9 times while Duncan was on there 8 times. 

With Kobe's 5 championships, in two of those wins he also added a Finals MVP along with it. Now if your a Duncan supporter, you may say "well Kobe wouldn't have won those championships without Phil Jackson or Shaquille O' Neal." Yes true, but Duncan had Popovich for his whole entire career, so that jab wouldn't even apply. While Duncan had made more postseasons and the stability of Popovich under him, they still won an equal amount of championships.

In terms of personal accolades, Bryant has only one MVP award compared to Duncan's two. But Bryant averaged more then 35.4 PPG,  5.3 RPG, and 4.5 APG in that season on a same team where he led Kwame Brown and Smush Parker to the playoffs. That same year he also lost the MVP in a controversial fashion to Steve Nash in 2006. Bryant has the edge in All Star nods as well with 18 appearances compared to Duncan's 15. 

Conclusion

It is a fun debate to have if you are into this kind of stuff. Nonetheless, the NBA won't be the same ever again with these two titans of the game now riding off into the sunset. The last of the dying breeds are gone with Kobe and Duncan when it comes to loyalty and commitment. Where these two rank among the top 10 lists of the NBA pantheons or pedestals of who's higher will be up for debate. However these two impact on the game and how they changed the game should be applauded. So who would you rather have on your team, would you rather have the sexiness, pzazz, the glitz and glamour that is of LA and be at times arrogant and selfish in Kobe Bryant. Or would you rather have the low-key laid-back nonchalant guy in Tim Duncan playing in San Antonio. Who ya got?


   

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