Alex Rodriguez is thriving a year after his last game with the Yankees

You can argue about many things in Alex Rodriguez’s baseball career, but you can’t deny it was successful. Over 22 years, Rodriguez was one of the best players of his era. He was drafted No. 1 overall, made countless All-Star Games, won a World Series ring, made over $300 million and retired with the fourth most home runs all-time.

There were rough times, sure. A-Rod admitted to using steroids during his career and received a 162-game suspension. He feuded with the league, the New York Yankees, Bud Selig and Derek Jeter. He took a weird picture in which it looked like he was kissing his own reflection. He slapped a ball. He reportedly had a painting made of himself as a centaur. (OK, that one is actually awesome.)

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Despite his stumbles, A-Rod’s accomplishments during his playing career are impossible to completely dismiss. Even with all the warts, he still had a fantastic career.

And yet, his life seems even better now. Despite being forced out of the game last August, A-Rod is thriving. He’s become a respected analyst, a legitimate television star, a family man and the person who has captured Jennifer Lopez’s heart.

After 22 seasons of everyone hating on him, A-Rod turned around his entire image in just one year. Alex Rodriguez is … gulp … likable now.

How did that happen? Great question. With Rodriguez now officially a year removed from his final game with the Yankees, let’s retrace everything he’s accomplished during the #YearofRod.

Alex Rodriguez played his last game with the Yankees on Aug. 12, 2016. (AP)

AUG. 12, 2016: RODRIGUEZ PLAYS HIS FINAL MLB GAME
Days after Rodriguez is essentially forced into retirement by the Yankees, he goes out and hits an RBI double off Tampa Bay Rays starter Chris Archer in his final MLB game. Rodriguez receives a standing ovation from fans every time he steps to the plate, and is honored before the game while surrounded by family members. Rodriguez even gets to play third base one more time.

AUG. 13, 2016: THE YANKEES RELEASE A-ROD
The Yankees cut bait with Rodriguez the day after his final game. The team still owes him $27 million of the $275 million deal he signed in 2007. He’s expected to serve in an advisory role with the club.

AUG. 15, 2016: RODRIGUEZ SAYS HE’LL SIT OUT THE REST OF THE SEASON
Though A-Rod expressed a desire to continue playing baseball in the days leading to his sendoff in New York, he decides to put off a possible comeback until at least 2017. The Miami Marlins apparently considered signing Rodriguez as he attempted to pursue 700 home runs, but their interest proved to be overblown. Rodriguez decides he’ll sit out for the rest of the season and contemplate his career in the winter.

SEP. 29, 2016: A-ROD RETURNS TO FOX SPORTS TO ANALYZE THE POSTSEASON
Rodriguez announces he’ll participate in the postseason, but as a broadcaster. After a successful stint on Fox Sports during the 2015 playoffs, Rodriguez signs on again with the network.

OCT. 8, 2016: RODRIGUEZ HINTS AT A POSSIBLE RETURN IN 2017
While filling time on Fox Sports during a rain delay, Rodriguez is asked about Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz possibly putting on his spikes for the last time. When Pete Rose asks, “how’s that feel,” A-Rod responds with a cryptic “stay tuned.” There were a lot of rumors regarding whether A-Rod would attempt a comeback following his final game. While most signs pointed to no, this is the first indication that maybe he would put on his uniform one more time.

Alex Rodriguez doesn’t appreciate hearing about Derek Jeter. (Screen shot via Fox)

OCT. 21, 2016: A-ROD GIVES THE MOST AWKWARD SMILE EVER AT DEREK JETER COMMENT
Live television is a glorious thing. The whole world knows about the falling out between Rodriguez and Jeter. That’s no secret. It’s always weird when the two have to talk about each other (more on that later). Well, this was one of those moments. Pete Rose – who is either incredibly oblivious or the world’s greatest troll – puts A-Rod on the spot by saying he was inspired by Jeter. A-Rod has no way out. He’s on live television. He just has to suck it up and take the hit. He accomplishes this by giving possibly the most awkward half-smile we’ve ever seen, offers up only an “I love it” and then abruptly turns his head to another camera as if he’s doing a Ben Wyatt reaction shot on “Parks and Rec.”

OCT. 25, 2016: A-ROD STARTS GETTING RECOGNITION FOR HIS EXCELLENT WORK ON FOX SPORTS
This is one of the first moments the public perception of A-Rod starts to change. At this point, he’s been a part of Fox Sports’ broadcasts for a few weeks. He’s come off as knowledgable and entertaining. People are starting to warm up to him. A behind the scenes look reveals it’s all genuine. A-Rod works hard, prepares and takes his job as an analyst seriously. He welcomes jabs from Rose and is willing to make fun of himself. His personality starts to emerge. It’s a refreshing look for someone who was known as robotic during his playing career.

DEC. 15, 2016: A-ROD STEPS UP HIS GAME AT A-ROD CORP
A-Rod isn’t spending his offseason exclusively on television. No, it’s an offseason filled with business for the former third baseman. Rodriguez re-commits himself to A-Rod Corp. What does A-Rod Corp. do? We have no idea. Do we love it way too much? Yes, we do.

JAN. 5, 2017: A-ROD PRETTY MUCH SAYS HE’S RETIRED
The dream is dead. With four home runs to go before 700, Rodriguez decides he’s done playing baseball. A-Rod doesn’t officially retire, but his spokesman says there are no plans for Rodriguez to try and play in 2017. He’ll focus on being a special advisor for the Yankees instead.

MARCH 7, 2017: RODRIGUEZ SIGNS ON FULL-TIME WITH FOX SPORTS
Rodriguez really makes it clear he’s not going to play baseball in 2017. He signs on with Fox Sports full-time. On top of strictly working in studio, Rodriguez will also be allowed to call games from the broadcast booth in his new role.

MARCH 8, 2017: HE AND J-LO BECOME THE NEW CELEBRITY POWER COUPLE
Rodriguez begins dating one of the few people who might be more recognizable than him. It’s revealed music icon Jennifer Lopez and A-Rod have been dating for a few months. The move ensures that, even in retirement, A-Rod can’t avoid the tabloids.

MARCH 25, 2017: A-ROD ADMITS HE WAS A JERK 
This is a prime example of Rodriguez being more candid and honest since he retired. While speaking to students at the University of Miami, Rodriguez recounts some of the mistakes he made during his playing days. He says that during 2013, when he was fighting his suspension, he made mistakes, was a “big jerk” and “made an ass” of himself on the radio.

MARCH 28, 2017: A-ROD SENDS OUT POSSIBLY HIS FINEST TWEET
With the regular season nearly here, analyst A-Rod lets everyone know what’s on his mind with one of his strangest tweets.

That birthed a meme, of course. How could it not? Just look at that picture. The best part is, we have no idea whether it was meant to be serious or whether A-Rod was making a joke. In the past, we would assume the former. But Rodriguez has been pretty self-aware in retirement. He may have been in on it.

MAY 2, 2017: A-ROD RE-UNITES WITH JETER FOR A PAINFULLY AWKWARD INTERVIEW
“So, are you guys friends now?” That kicks off one of the most cringeworthy interview segments we’ve seen in some time. It’s pretty clear Jeter is not happy almost immediately. He was reportedly furious after the interview, as he didn’t know he would be doing it with Rodriguez. A-Rod handles things a little better, though he can’t do enough to save the interview. It’s an unwatchable mess, but you can’t look away.

MAY 6, 2017: A-ROD DECLINES TO GET IN ON THE MARLINS BIDDING
Maybe we know why things were so icy in that interview with Jeter. Rodriguez reportedly met with one of the rival groups looking to purchase the Marlins. He passed on the opportunity, but many think Rodriguez wouldn’t mind becoming an owner eventually. Fans unfortunately miss out on A-Rod vs. Jeter Part … whatever Part we’re on at this point.

Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter still aren’t great friends. (AP Photo)

MAY 15, 2017: A-ROD HAS MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO THAN GO TO DEREK JETER DAY
Rodriguez was one of the significant no-shows at Derek Jeter’s number retirement ceremony at Yankee Stadium. He had better things to do than hang out with his old frenemy. Jeter Day fell on Mother’s Day, so A-Rod spent time with J-Lo, his mother and his daughters. For once, there was no controversy.

MAY 18, 2017: A PICTURE OF A-ROD’S NOTEBOOK INCLUDES SOME STRANGE NOTES
A-Rod’s broadcast booth debut is briefly derailed after a picture of him preparing for the contest reveals some personal musings from his notebook. Bullet points saying “Child, birth control, baby and pull out stuff” are seen in the soon to be deleted tweet. But nothing truly gets scrubbed from the internet.

JUNE 19, 2017: A-ROD AND J-LO GO TO FRANCE
Hey, everyone needs a vacation at some point. OK, well, this was technically a #baecation according to J-Lo. A number of entertaining pictures went up on social media, including the two of them enjoying each other’s company, Rodriguez flipping the double bird and A-Rod sitting in a white suit. There are worse ways to relax.

JULY 11, 2017: A-ROD DOES IN-GAME INTERVIEWS AT THE ALL-STAR GAME, WITH MIXED RESULTS
Hey, look, there’s A-Rod back on the field. Only this time, he’s doing interviews … with players … during inning breaks. The All-Star Game experimented with a few things this year. While A-Rod’s between-inning interviews with a few players was rocky, he seemed to get more comfortable with the idea as it went along. Despite being put in a tough spot, he does well, confirming he’s made progress as a broadcaster.

JULY 12, 2017: A-ROD MAKES HIS PLAY TO BE THE NEXT COMMISSIONER
A-Rod reveals four ways baseball can be better and more fan-friendly in the future. They include more cameras on the field to give fans a better look at everything, integration with Google to provide more in-depth stats and facts, more affordable games so families can go to the park and more players being mic’d up. Watch out, Rob Manfred, A-Rod might be coming for your job.

AUG. 3, 2017: RODRIGUEZ ADMITS THE SUSPENSION WAS THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO HIM
In an interview with “The Hollywood Reporter,” Rodriguez says his 2014 suspension may have been a good thing. It forced him to re-evaluate his life and come to the conclusion he wanted to be a different person. That seems to be in line with the narrative surrounding A-Rod around this time. It was said he embraced a leadership and mentor role with the Yankees once he returned from his suspension.

AUG. 12, 2017: ALEX RODRIGUEZ IS DOING JUST FINE
A year after his final game with the Yankees, life is pretty good for Rodriguez. He’s regarded as a tremendous analyst, and the public perception around him is changing. It’s too premature to say whether he’s done enough for people to vote him into the Hall of Fame, but that seems less outlandish than it did a year ago. After a career full of hatred and jeers, A-Rod has started to slowly win over some of his biggest critics. He’s done that by finally being himself.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!