On August 3, Alex Rodriguez met with Hal Steinbrenner as a member of the New York Yankees. He left that meeting knowing that his last game will be on August 12th, and after that game he will be released from the New York Yankees only to be hired as a Special Advisor to Steinbrenner until December 31, 2017.
Before we feel sorry for a man who has been told that his baseball career is over, let’s remember that he is hitting .204 in 2016 with seven home runs. Before we start feeling sorry for A-Rod, let’s remember that he (twice) signed the richest contract in professional sports and has made over $400 million in his professional career. Before we feel sorry for A-Rod, let’s remember that this is a man whose agent opted out of his baseball contract LIVE on television during the 2007 World Series and who missed the 2014 baseball season due to a suspension.
However, we do feel sorry because we have been watching a baseball superstar slowly losing his skills as Mother Time caught up to him. We do feel sorry for him because since he came back from his suspension, he said all the right things, acted the right way, and has been a model citizen while being a mentor and helping the younger Yankees develop. We do feel sorry for him because he has been ridiculed and embarrassed by the Yankees during this time, publicly discussing that his playing time is limited and he has no future on a team that rebuilding.
Carlos Beltran was traded away, along with Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Mark Teixera will retire at seasons end. C.C. Sabathia will be leaving after the 2017 season. The names of Jeter, Williams, Posada, Petitte, and Rivera are being replaced by Sanchez, Bird, Judge, Frazier, Refsynder and many more. While Rodriguez has been vilified for years as the most hated player in Major League Baseball, he will get one last night to say good-bye and to allow the Yankees to celebrate his tenure on the team.
In his 22-year career, Rodriguez was a Yankee for 12 of the years. He has been a two-time MVP, 7-time All-Star, led the league in home runs three times, and was pivotal during the 2009 World Series Championship of the New York Yankees. While his past will always be questioned and he will always be spoken about with an “asterisk”, Rodriguez will retire in the Top 10 in the following offensive categories: Runs Scored (8th), Total Bases (6th), Home Runs (4th), Runs Batted in (3rd), Strikeouts (5th) and Extra Base Hits (6th). He also attempted to have his salary reduced to facilitate a trade to the Boston Red Sox (rejected by the player’s union). Rodriguez also changed position while being the top ranked shortstop in the Major Leagues so that a living legend in New York would stay King of the Hill.
Rodriguez may not have been the model player, with his suspensions and allegations. He sued the team and Major League Baseball before accepting his suspension. He has dated superstars and was shown being fed popcorn during a Super Bowl. It almost seems that anything Rodriguez did was seen as a negative, fake and contrived. What else could we expect from a man that is depicted as a Minotaur in a painting his own home?
What can we expect is that a man who lives and dies by the game of baseball will miss a game that he has been playing since he was a little child. He would DVR home games and watch all the games from the West Coast when he got home. He is considered one of the best teammates, helping and coaching younger players (in particular, Latino). He donated to his alma mater, so that the University of Miami could build a new baseball stadium. He has been humbled by a sport that he loves and by the response of the New York fans through these past couple of years. If he had this kind of attitude and public persona through his career, he would be one of the most loved players in baseball, no matter his past.
Instead he is a man who gets to say goodbye to the New York Yankees and the game that he loves at a time when he has finally realized how to enjoy it.