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H3K-ROD: Should you cheer or jeer?

Alex Rodriguez is the newest member of the 3,000 hit club. How should you react?

Alex Rodriguez practices his happy face
Alex Rodriguez practices his happy face
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Rodriguez's march to a Cooperstown snub continued today as he notched his 3,000th hit in classic fashion, homering on the first pitch her saw from Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander. While 3,000 hits may be a war of attrition, A-Rod has also slugged the most second most home runs of any member of this elite group, having just passed the great Willie Mays. His career OPS also ties Mays for third overall among hitters with 3,000 hits.

Player H Age PA HR BB% K% OPS
Pete Rose 4256 22 15890 160 10% 7% .784
Ty Cobb 4189 18 13084 117 10% 5% .945
Hank Aaron 3771 20 13941 755 10% 10% .928
Stan Musial 3630 20 12717 475 13% 5% .976
Tris Speaker 3514 19 11992 117 12% 3% .928
Derek Jeter 3465 21 12602 260 9% 15% .817
Cap Anson 3435 19 11331 97 9% 3% .841
Honus Wagner 3420 23 11748 101 8% 6% .858
Carl Yastrzemski 3419 21 13992 452 13% 10% .841
Paul Molitor 3319 21 12167 234 9% 10% .817
Eddie Collins 3315 19 12044 47 12% 4% .853
Willie Mays 3283 20 12496 660 12% 12% .941
Eddie Murray 3255 21 12817 504 10% 12% .836
Nap Lajoie 3243 21 10461 82 5% 3% .847
Cal Ripken 3184 20 12883 431 9% 10% .788
George Brett 3154 20 11625 317 9% 8% .857
Paul Waner 3152 23 10766 113 10% 3% .878
Robin Yount 3142 18 12249 251 8% 11% .772
Tony Gwynn 3141 22 10232 135 8% 4% .847
Dave Winfield 3110 21 12358 465 10% 14% .827
Craig Biggio 3060 22 12504 291 9% 14% .796
Rickey Henderson 3055 20 13346 297 16% 13% .820
Rod Carew 3053 21 10550 92 10% 10% .822
Lou Brock 3023 22 11240 149 7% 15% .753
Rafael Palmeiro 3020 21 12046 569 11% 11% .885
Wade Boggs 3010 24 10740 118 13% 7% .858
Al Kaline 3007 18 11596 399 11% 9% .855
Roberto Clemente 3000 20 10211 240 6% 12% .834
Alex Rodriguez 3000 18 11606 667 11% 18% .941

Rodriguez will continue his assault on this leaderboard as the season continues, and if he can equal his production to date, he figures to leap all the way to 21st, just ahead of Craig Biggio. With two more season's left on a contract that is looking less like an albatross around the Yankees ample neck, he could join former teammate Derek Jeter in the top 10 of the all-time hit list.

It's been more than 20 years since Alex broke into the league, so you're forgiven if you don't recall the Trout-ian level of excitement that surrounded his early years. Over his first seven season, he crushed 189 homers in Seattle, all while playing something between good and very good defense at shortstop. He led the new breed of power-hitting infielders, so it wasn't a surprise when he was offered what, at the time, was richest in contract in baseball. For Rodriguez, this quarter-billion dollar deal spelled the beginning of the end from a public relations standpoint.

While his three seasons in Texas were lost for the ball club, Rodriguez continued to mash. He led the league in homers for each of his three seasons with the Rangers, hitting a total of 156. That's nearly as many as Charlie Hustle hit for his 23-year career! Different eras, but that adds context to his depth of his skill set. After claiming runner-up in MVP voting twice, Rodriguez finally won his first in 2003, the season that would be his last as a Ranger. Despite being one of best players in the game over his tenure in Texas, public opinion on Rodriguez was mixed. Instead of the being seen as the phenom, the general public lashed out, and he became the poster child of the money-grubbing athlete who put money and personal success ahead of the desire to win.

If you want to learn more about the inner workings of the trade that sent A-Rod to the Bronx, check out the 30 for 30 about how he almost joined the Red Sox. After making some ill-advised comments about Jeter a few years earlier, he moved to third to let his less-talented former blood brother stick at short. Despite suffering from a mild case of Steve Sax Syndrome, A-Rod held it down at the hot corner... kind of.

Although the Yankees won the juggernaut AL East in A-Rod's first three seasons, the Yankees couldn't seal the deal in the postseason. Despite leading the team in fWAR over that three year stretch, his lackluster performance in the playoffs was all fans needed to malign him further. His would finally get his first and only ring (so far) in 2009, a postseason in which he crushed 6 homers and batted .365, but it was never enough.

During his tenure in New York, Rodriguez has faced many challenges. He's battled injuries, public relationship issues, and steroid shaming that resulted in a season long suspension. No one knew what to expect from A-Rod upon his return, but few would have predicted a season a season as productive as the one he's enjoying.

After a year in the wilderness, Rodriguez is hitting like himself again. Not peak A-Rod, but his wRC+ (148) is his highest since 2008. Not only that, but Alex has is healthy for the first time in forever, too. He's appeared in 63 of the Yankees 67 games and trails only Mark Teixeira for the team lead in home runs (13) and walks (34).

In the past, Rodriguez has come off a bit awkward. It's strange to see someone with his talent and accomplishments appear so insecure. Perhaps that's changing. He's handled Yankees public refusal to award him discretionary milestone bonuses admirably, and appears to have kept his head down this season. Aside from the other milestone he's reached this season, he's faded into the background as a new wave of phenoms have emerged.

Maybe it took a season away to finally feel comfortable in his own skin. Maybe working with Barry Bonds in the offseason helped not only his swing, but the way he sees himself. Maybe he's finally grown up. Or maybe we don't know as much about him as we think we do. Maybe we never did. Now, he's in the final act of his career, and we'll likely never have a Cooperstown speech to act as a bookend. How you choose to spend the twilight of his career is your choice. You can mock him to your friends on Twitter, or you can tip your cap. You can tune in or turn away. Like most things in life, it's up to you to decide how you want to enjoy these historic events. But players as talented as A-Rod come along rarely enough that it pays to choose wisely.

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Matt Jackson is a featured writer for Beyond the Box Score and a staff writer for Royals Review. You can follow him on Twitter at @jacksontaigu.