Alex Rodriguez endured a polluted New York Yankees career and now his team has demonstrated how they truly perceive him with the release and recent benching.
From the time general manager Brian Cashman told the three-time American League MVP to “shut the f#&k up,” to the narrow-minded embarrassment of A-Rod that is currently taking place at Fenway Park, this relationship between player and team is on life support.
Rodriguez will be released on Friday after a game with the Tampa Bay Rays, collect his guaranteed $20-million for this season and next, and return to the Yankees’ organization as an ambassador, instructor and special advisor to principal owner Hal Steinbrenner.
Which, if you think about it, is kind of like staying friends with your girlfriend of 12-years after you have gone your separate ways. Ouch.
However, most people think of this situation as a “mutual separation” and how the Steinbrenners along with the other higher-ups spoke to A-Rod in a sensitive manner in order to give him a half-decent send-off while remaining a part of the organization.
According to the explanation at Sunday’s presser, Steinbrenner had approached Rodriguez, who is a mere four home runs shy of 700 in his highly controversial career, last week and gave him several days to make a determination on whether or not he wanted to join as a special advisor.
Those who think that this was up to A-Rod couldn’t be more mistaken. Furthermore, those who think there was no ultimatum from Steinbrenner are even more mistaken.
According to FOX Sports, who sat down for an exclusive interview with the 14-time All-Star, Rodriguez stated that New York informed him a several days before his 11 AM press conference at Yankee Stadium on Sunday on how they wanted to release him.
Could it be more obvious? You can’t blame them, though, as the 41-year old man who led the team in home runs just a year ago has not started since July 30, has not hit a home run since July 18, and is batting .204 with a .609 OPS, which are both career lows by a noteworthy amount.
But what you can criticize the front office for is how awkward sitting Rodriguez, who has led the league in home runs five times throughout his 22-year career, has been.
What made it even worse was when the .500 Yankees benched A-Rod during his final road series on the team because they wanted to win and narrow the deficit in the AL Wild Card race.
After being told he could play in all four of his remaining games, Rodriguez looked at the lineup card on Tuesday night and saw he was listed as a reserve against the lefty Drew Pomeranz, which likely felt like a knife to his side.
Manager Joe Girardi, whose decision it was to keep him out of action, declared that he is trying to win games, which you can’t blame him for, either.
The organization may have waved the white flag with their fire sale at the deadline but by no means should a manager of any organization do the same. It is their job to win with the team presented to them, zero questions asked.
It goes against, however, the theme from Sunday which is to, again, turn the embarrassment to embracement for one of the greatest to play the game – steroids aside.
With that said, Girardi promised Rodriguez that he could play all four games leading up to his release if he wanted to. However, heading into Tuesday’s contest he looked at A-Rod as a player and not as a baseball figure who is four home runs shy of 700 in as many games remaining and told him to ride the pine.
Things got even crazier when the Fenway faithful began to chant: “WE WANT A-ROD!”
Girardi, who was asked by the NY Times on his reaction to them stood his ground on his pregame decision:
“How am I supposed to react? It’s part of it. I’m sure I’m going to hear it. But I’ve got to do what I think is best.” – Joe Girardi
Despite the dispute over the lineup card between Rodriguez and Girardi, the manager cannot be blamed here. The front office and ownership had taken a stab at the slugger who has embarrassed them with his lies, PED usage, and more since arriving in 2004.
Along with tainting his name and the organization he represents, he finds his numbers among the best of the best.
A-Rod had previously broken Yankee legend Lou Gehrig’s Major League record for career grand slams (23) in 2015 and entering this season there was a chance he could displace Babe Ruth, who is the Yankees’ all-time home runs leader, for third place on baseball’s home runs list.
To them, no matter what his baseball card reads, will never match the likes of any Yankee in monument park.
The legacy he will leave this game with is one who produced breath-taking talent, was a five-tool player with a movie star charm to him, and probably one of the most popular players in baseball history.
Then, his home became New York and he could not escape the spotlight as people soon figured out that he was a .300-plus hitter on the field, but under the Mendoza line as a human being thanks to the lies that he has bestowed upon the fans and the Yankees’ organization.
To the Bombers, A-Rod is a corrupt figure in which the organization has had enough with. He embarrassed his team, and now he’s getting a taste of his own medicine – no pun intended.
Either way he goes out, whether it’s to join the Bombers and assist the youth movement or to go to another team with his eyes set at 700 (which is a mark I hope he achieves), there will be more to his career as the adventure of Alex Rodriguez always has another sequence.
His cold-war tenure with New York may be the only thing he’s saying goodbye to on Friday night and despite ranking in the top ten in most offensive categories in Yankees’ history, it will be undoubtedly infected by negativity thanks to occurrences like this:
Christian Kouroupakis covers the New York Yankees for ESNY. Interact with him and view his daily work by “liking” his facebook page and follow him on Twitter. Don’t hesitate to shoot him an email with any questions, criticisms, or concerns.