Somehow the Yankees writing falls to me. Who’d’ve thought?
Big news yesterday – A-Rod opted out of his contract with the Yankees. He gave up $72 million in owed salary, which means the Yankees gave up $21.3 million from the Rangers. George Steinbrenner’s son Hank made clear that no effort would be made to reacquire him.
There’s nothing more bizarre to me than the way New York sports fans and media treated Alex Rodriguez. They savaged the best baseball player in a decade for not being a “clutch hitter” or falling flat in the postseason. They mocked or maligned him for only being “in it for the money,” as opposed to all the other mercenaries with hearts of gold that comprise the Yankees roster. First in the American League in home runs, runs and on-base percentage plus slugging? Screw him.
Scott Boras, A-Rod’s high profile agent, made this announcement midway through Game 4 of the World Series. He notified Brian Cashman by way of a voice mail. The timing of the message – during the final game of a World Series sweep by New York’s closest rival – plus the delivery suggest a cool and bitter parting. So be it.
Here’s the thing: if A-Rod’s after money, he ain’t getting it. The only two teams that can supply the salary he’s accustomed to are the Yankees and the Red Sox (who can’t. The Phillies . The Cubs can’t. So what does the most hated man in baseball – and how does a man as talented as A-Rod get that appellation – want?). The Giants
The ring, of course. The one ring to rule them all.
Baseball’s not the same game as basketball, of course – you can’t turn a team from losers into instant contenders by adding one man. But you can take a very good team and make them better. Alex Rodriguez guarantees a base or more every time he’s at bat. Tell me you don’t want to slot that into your lineup.
So who might end up with A-Rod?
New York Mets: The Mets are the next most expensive team after Boston and the Yankees. They’ve also been very close to the post-season and one powerful hitter might just put them over the edge. But if A-Rod’s looking to avoid the venomous New York journalism we’ve come to associate with him, it’s not much of a move. Odds: 50%
Los Angeles Angels: A-Rod’s become a celebrity in his own right with his huge salary, so the Hollywood culture might do him good. They’ve been playing well – they made it to the postseason this year, don’t forget – and they can afford him. It’s the AL West, so he can quietly boost Anaheim’s standings while avoiding the Boston / New York dogfight that is the AL East every year. Odds: 75%
Cleveland: They’re in the same place as the Angels – a team that’s consistently good enough but not great enough – but I don’t think they have the cash to afford him. Odds: 66%
Arizona Diamondbacks: … maybe? Odds: 40%
Baltimore Orioles: I put them on here not because it’d be a smart move for them to bid for Alex Rodriguez, but because it’s the kind of stupid thing Peter Angelos might do – jack up ticket prices 80% and mortgage the team into the ground just to get their hands on one man, only to see the Orioles fall to 3rd or 4th in the AL East, like they have every year of the last ten. Odds: 50%
That’s my take on it. Wherever A-Rod ends up, I hope it’s with a team who recognizes that the best hitter in a generation is, in fact, the best hitter in a generation.