Alex Rodriguez’s alarming inability to make contact during the playoffs leads many to believe that the clock is about to strike midnight on his immensely talented but polarizing career. The Yankees are likely to find the 5 years and $114 million he is due after this season to be an unpalatable mouthful to swallow, making his trade or release a real possibility this off-season. His departure may now be further hastened by his attempt to obtain two female fans’ phone numbers during a Game 1 ALCS loss in which he contributed a hollow 0 for 3 with a strikeout. Some may see this as no big deal, but it is fair criticism and vintage A-Rod.
Obviously A-Rod’s latest misstep didn’t contribute to the Yankees losing the game or impact their recent offensive slump, but it was terrible form; particularly for a 19 year MLB veteran playing on baseball’s biggest stage. Players typically pride themselves on professionalism and doing things “the right way;” something A-Rod has struggled with throughout his career.
Those who may believe this A-Rod debacle is being overblown by the press need to consider the following comparison. If a person worked for a struggling business and their own performance had noticeably declined, they would face severe reprimand or worse if they came on to a customer during company time. It was an inappropriate action by A-Rod that was exacerbated by its timing and the Yankees being swept out of the playoffs by the Tigers just a few days later.
For the staggering numbers A-Rod has put up in his career he has gotten shockingly little recognition from the media or fans, and it’s mainly because of how he has conducted himself on and off the field. His career .300 batting average, 647 home runs, and 1,950 RBI put him in rarefied air with peers who need no further explanation other than their last names- Ruth, Mays, and Aaron. Despite the relative ease in which he has accrued his own numbers, A-Rod just doesn’t have the baseball cred to put him on par with such legends.
Flirt-Gate is another in a long line of incidents throughout A-Rod’s career that has made him appear somewhere between aloof and buffoonish. Of note there has been standing up to the well-respected Jason Varitek and getting his lunch handed to him; an ill-conceived and executed slap in a playoff game against the Red Sox; violating a pitcher’s sanctuary; Little League attempts to distract his opponent; and his biggest faux pas of all; admitting he took performance enhancers. His perceived inability to “get it” has only magnified the negative attention and public disdain he has received throughout his career, and permanently mangled his legacy.
No, A-Rod attempting to get a date with an attractive woman or two isn’t the end of the world, but it may well be viewed as a prime reason why his career with the New York Yankees came to an end. Because of his free-fall in production (5 consecutive seasons of declining OPS) and bad press, the Yankees are expected to look into finding a team to unload the remainder of his albatross contract. A logical fit has already been identified in the Miami Marlins, who would be able to offer up some their own bad contracts, like pitchers Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle. A-Rod has previously expressed a desire to play in Miami, and if the Marlins are willing, the opportunity would be too good for the Yankees to pass up.
If A-Rod’s time as a Yankee has indeed come to a close, it will be a sad but fitting ending for such an accomplished player. If his numbers could do the talking for him, he would be considered a baseball treasure and among the titans of the game. Instead he has allowed his awkward and often unlikable behavior define who he is, which will leave him finding it harder to obtain fan respect and reverence than the number of a pretty girl.