We all know by now that Alex Rodriguez will play his last game tonight at Yankee Stadium vs the the Tampa Bay Rays. Earlier this week Rodriguez announced his “retirement” from baseball in an emotional speech. He expressed his hope that he would be able to play the remaining games as well. Joe Girardi answered: Ï’ll find a way.” But what happened? Rodriguez was kept on the bench for the biggest part of those games. He got a pinch hit at bat in the second game vs the Red Sox and batted in the cleanup spot last night. In none of his at bats he collected a hit. Perhaps that was the reason why the Yankees wanted to keep him seated.
What led to this situation? Once a very talented player with the Seattle Mariners, A-Rod signed a multi-year and mult million dollar contract with the Texas Rangers in 2001. In 2004 he went to the Yankees in a trade that sent Alfonso Soriano to Arlington.
With the Yankees he had some good years but he never carried the team. Eventually in 2009 he won his sole World Series ring with the Yankees. In that very same year, it became public that his name was on the government-sealed list of 104 players that had been using PEDs. Eventually he admitted the use of steroids from 2001 through 2003 but he also stated that he did not use anymore.
Later it would become clear that Rodriguez’ body got so addicted to steroids, that he could not do without them and that MLB turned a blind eye. But when his name appeared in the Biogenesis scandal, MLB wasn’t willing to look away. Especially after A-Rod tried to achieve all the proof of his involvement in this scandal. Eventually he was suspended for a year. MLB stated that he would be suspended because of the “use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years” and “attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation.”
In his comeback year he performed much better than most had thought he would do with a .250 average and 33 homeruns. But the 2016 season would be disastrous as he hit in the low .200s and was benched most of the time in the last few months. Because he hardly contributed there were a lot of rumors about the Yankees cutting him loose.
Eventually the Yankees called a press conference in which A-Rod announced that he would play his final game on Friday August 12. He also stated that he hoped that he could play the last few games before that Friday. Manager Joe Girardi stated that he would find a solution for that. But despite the four at bats vs the Red Sox last night and a pinch hit appearance in the previous game, not much happened. When journalists remembered Girardi to what he has said, he stated that he was hired to win baseball games instead of managing a farewell tour.
Before Girardi made that remark, you could think that the Yankees are really eyeing a rejuvenation and that A-Rod was taking a roster spot of a talented kid. But now I think otherwise. By “releasing” A-Rod, the Yankees must pay him the full amount that they owe him: about $6 MM this year and $21 MM next year. If A-Rod would have played the remainder of the games, he would have had a shot on reaching the 700-homrun plateau, of which he was 4 dingers shy. But if he would reach that plateau, the Yankees were obliged to pay him $6 MM extra.
During the last couple of days it has become clear that the Yankees have kept Rodriguez benched to make sure he would not hit his 700th homerun and that Joe Girardi is nothing more than a puppet on a string. Of course we must admit that A-Rod wasn’t a shadow of himself this season, but the way he has been treated is far from fair. Of course A-Rod has cheated. Of course he has tried to influence the course of justice. He was quite a self centered player and it has been said that he could be a pain in the butt as a person outside the the diamond. But all these flaws do not justify the way the Yankees have been treating A-Rod this season. The brass has shown that it is a classless bunch.