The Weekly Tail ‘Gater – Bidding Farewell to Alex Rodriguez

Mike Nanna

Dear Alex,

For as long as I can remember, it has always been about you. When you first arrived to the major leagues as a 19-year old shortstop with the Seattle Mariners in 1994, any scout who deserved his job could tell that you would be special. Blessed with a cannon arm, stunning raw power and N’Sync style looks, you oozed marketability. By the time you were hitting .358 and slugging 36 homers as a 21-year old, the entire nation was becoming acquainted with the next young Seattle superstar that would one day take his place next to Junior Griffey among the games most beloved and elite players. When you finally hit free agency after the 2000 season, most fans considered you the best shortstop in the world. Then you made the biggest mistake of your life: you chose the money.

At the time, it seemed like nobody deserved it more. $252 million was certainly as crazy a sum then as it is now, but baseball contracts were exploding at the time and you, my friend, were the absolute cr??me de la cr??me. The fact that you chose the Texas Rangers was a surprise to some but most fans gave you the benefit of the doubt that it wasn’t just for the money. By the time you had collected an MVP award but no playoff appearances after 2003, you knew your reputation was in need of a facelift and a move to New York or Boston seemed like an easy fix. When your attempt to go to Boston fell through, you had no choice but to switch gloves and pack your bags to the Big Apple. With national exposure and endorsement opportunities galore, New York was just the place to make you an icon; except it wasn’t.

You see Alex, New York accepts nothing less than World Championships. We want hard nosed ballplayers who give a damn and we want no nonsense leaders. We want the type of players that are likeable both on-and-off-the-field. Other great players have failed here in the past, but your failure was more complex than the others. When you collect your third MVP overall and second as a Yankee in the next few days, you will leave our storied franchise with gaudy statistics but few friends and ZERO rings. Aside from your well-documented pitiful postseason performances, you were a constant disruption to team chemistry. You paraded around with strippers, broke a number of unwritten baseball rules on the field and carried a distracting media circus everywhere you went. In the end, everything had to be about A-Rod and you liked it that way, even if it meant alienating your teammates and your fans.

So now that your days are over as a Yankee, please spare me the bull about caring about your teammates or fans. If you cared about your Yankee teammates then you would have paid them the respect that Curt Schilling did to his teammates when you thought it might be the end of your Yankee career. Or perhaps you could have allowed so much as a meeting with the Yankee brass before you turned down yet another $250 million offer to hold out for $100 million more. How about the fact that you chose to announce that you were opting out of your contract during the clinching game of the World Series? Or that you had already explained missing an appearance to receive the Hank Aaron award by saying that you didn’t want your contract situation to distract fans from the World Series? How does that make any sense? Right when Yankee fans seemed to be truly accepting you, cheering you and being patient with your anemic playoff bat, you bailed on all of us. Don’t ever tell me about loyalty when it was just leaked to the media that your first choice on the free agent market was none other than the hated Red Sox! You would take the easy way to a championship by latching on to the reigning champs before sticking it out with the team who resisted the urge to dump you last summer. Classy Alex, real classy.

Some people would argue that such moralizing from a fan is inappropriate and that you deserve the money you can get on the open market. If you were working in finance, perhaps these cold business approaches would apply. But this is baseball. Baseball players are supposed to be heroes, not greedy businessmen. If that argument doesn’t fly, consider this. In 2004 Albert Pujols, the consensus best player in baseball at the time, accepted $100 million, clearly no chump change, to stay with his beloved Cardinals for seven more years. You turned down more than double that from the Yankees. When Pujols is generally regarded as a bit of a self-absorbed jerk, what does that make you, Alex?

In the end, greed will only take someone so far in life. When your career is over you will look back at all of the records, all of the MVP awards, all of the money, houses and fame and you will be disappointed. Even if you accomplish everything that you possibly can in baseball, it will be your selfish demeanor that defines you when your career is over. Look at Barry Bonds, whose surly nature has played no small part in the media targeting him mercilessly over the past couple of years. The way baseball players are remembered is ultimately up to the fans who watch the game. By showing how little you care about us throughout your career, don’t be surprised if we return the favor when it’s time for you to be remembered.


The Tail’Gater