When Alex Rodriguez signed his 10-year, $252-million contract with the Texas Rangers, morons across America claimed that it would be the end of baseball. The howls from the peanut gallery of sports writers viciously attacked Rangers owner Tom Hicks, claiming that he was a rube, a fiscally irresponsible retard, and a puppet on the strings of Scott Boras. What no one seemed to pay attention to was that Hicks had a pretty solid plan in place. He expected to use A-Rod as the centerpiece for a marketing plan designed to make the Rangers one of the preeminent sports franchises in the world. In essence, by paying A-Rod the equivalent of what he paid for the franchise itself in 1997, Hicks was making Rodriguez his business partner, an astoundingly progressive development in a business where the players have historically been treated as no more than chattel or replaceable parts.
On Rodriguez’s end, it was a brilliant move negotiated by the best agent in the history of sports. (More on that in another rant.) Boras leveraged his client as not only the best player in the game that day, but one who could be potentially be the greatest of all-time. Boras put together binders filled with projections that put A-Rod in the same company as Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Frank Robinson, Henry Aaron, Ted Williams, and Mickey Mantle. Then he took his client on the open-market and shopped him around. To the consternation of “purists,” he refused to give the Mariners a hometown discount and scoffed at their attempt to keep A-Rod, which apparently amounted to a 20-minute meeting over shitty coffee with the Mariners, basically expecting A-Rod to stay because Seattle was where he started.
At the time, the New York Mets were the heavy favorites to land Rodriguez. When Boras told the Mets that A-Rod would need a marketing team and office space at Shea Stadium, Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday balked. Misjudging A-Rod’s play to be a real mover and shaker in the baseball industry as an attempt to cash on his vanity, sports writers (primarily in New York, but also around the country) jumped to the defense of the poor, put upon owners of the Mets and branded Rodriguez a selfish and ungrateful cur who was interested only in himself. That Rodriguez was acting as if he was above the team and that he was a callous mercenary who was only interested in himself. How dare a ballplayer be a forward thinking businessman and wish to be anything more than the best shortstop in baseball. How dare he encroach on the territory of the owners. How dare he strive to be anything more than walking jockstrap. How dare he wish to be more than just a commodity or a poster boy for the great game of baseball.
When Hicks put pen to paper and locked up A-Rod, eyes rolled. Why Texas? Why for $90-million more than any other bidder? Why, Tom, why are ruining baseball? Well, why not Texas? Especially when they are willing to give you $252-million and build their business around you and acknowledge you as not only the preeminent player in the game, but also the most marketable and bankable personality in the game. When you’re the best player in the game it only stands to reason that not only should you be the highest paid, but you should also have a real stake in the performance of the club. Top-end executives are given stock in a company, superstar columnists are usually put on the editorial board of the paper they write for, talented scientists are given enormous stipends from the universities they do research for. Why should it be any different for a ballplayer of the highest caliber? However, baseball bars players from owning a stake in a team, so big salaries are the next best thing.
The problem is that Hicks was very unlucky. Hicks made it clear he wanted to turn the Rangers into a big winner, and was opening his wallet on all fronts to prove it. He had Rafael Palmeiro and Ivan Rodriguez in the lineup, but during A-Rod’s tenure with the Rangers, general manager John Hart – who enjoyed enormous success in Cleveland – missed on a series of big contracts that doomed the Rangers to mediocrity. Ismael Valdez, Todd Van Poppel, and the infamous Chan Ho Park all failed miserably on the mound. Park especially hurt the Rangers when his arm blew out. He was supposed to be the centerpiece of a revamped pitching staff that was supposed to bolster the incredibly potent lineup Hart had assembled. However, when the pitching went to shit, the Rangers were a club that could hit, but couldn’t pitch, and needed to be completely rebuilt from the inside out, and fast.
The most logical solution was to trade Rodriguez for a package of players. Hart began shopping Rodriguez and had a trade lined up with the Boston Red Sox. Rodriguez, the alleged me-first mercenary, had even agreed to restructure his contract and leave money on the table to make the deal go through. However, the deal fell apart when the Players Union would not sanction the trade because it would set a bad precedent for players being traded in the future. You know, teams saying things like, “well, we’ll make the trade for you, but only if you lop off 15-percent of that salary so we can justify it financially.”
With that deal scotched, George Steinbrenner stepped into the fray and ordered Brian Cashman to get A-Rod no matter the cost. Trading Alfonso Soriano was a small price to pay, and considering that the Rangers were so desperate to rebuild, they were willing to pay a huge portion of Rodriguez’s salary to make the deal, Cashman got him for a song. Then, voila’, A-Rod’s a Yankee, assholes in the Bronx are thumbing their noses at the Red Sox, and after John Henry cried foul, Steinbrenner’s released this gem on the wires:
‘We understand that John Henry must be embarrassed, frustrated and disappointed by his failure in this transaction. Unlike the Yankees, he chose not to go the extra distance for his fans in Boston. It is understandable, but wrong that he would try to deflect the accountability for his mistakes on to others and to a system for which he voted in favor. It is time to get on with life and forget the sour grapes.’
Talk about hubris. Or better yet, loading the bullet in the gun that’s aimed at your foot. George never was one for false modesty, but this was just beyond him, especially since his pitching staff resembled an old folks home before the Tuinal is handed out. Regardless of the fact the Yankees were weighed down with clods in Tampa overriding Brian Cashman’s baseball acumen, everyone else in baseball shuddered, shit their pants, and wailed about the coming apocalypse the moment this deal went down.
Yet, somehow it all went wrong. “How could this happen?,” bleated the morons in their knock off Mariano Rivera jerseys. “We’re the fucking Yankees, we’re supposed to win the World Series every fucking year!” With a team loaded with expensive, but aging sluggers, no one seemed to notice the cracks in the Yankees’ facade. They were old in the starting rotation, their middle relief was weak, and they no longer had a team full of patient hitters. It was a glitzy collection of big names that gave King George his false sense of bravado and arrogance, but whose starting pitchers had an ERA of 5.22, and outside of Mariano Rivera, were dogshit in the bullpen.
Regardless, the Yankees tore through the American League in 2004. Winning 101 games, racking up 242 home runs, slugging at a .458 clip, and scoring 897 runs, the Yankees were an offensive juggernaut. However, he “underperformed,” hitting .286 with 36 home runs, 106 RBI, and a .512 slugging percentage while learning a new position, acquiescing to Jeter’s birth right to play shortstop, adjusting to a new ballpark and team, and handling the pressure of being “The Man” on a club full of superstars, overpaid talent, Crazy George, and harping fans. They dispatched the Twins in four games then jumped all up in the Red Sox shit in the ALCS, taking a three games to none lead, including a 19-8 win in game three at Fenway, prompting the newspapers to print banner headlines touting the “Boston Massacre Part II.” And how was A-Rod doing? He was hitting .429 and had just knocked in three runs, including a two-run jack in game three that essentially sealed the game.
Yet, it seemed as if the Gods of Baseball got really pissed off. It was if the Furies rose and after 80-something years of horror and devastation had been wrought upon New England, they finally saw the cruelty and hubris of the Yankee fans and decided that enough was enough. As Dave Roberts stole second, David Ortiz delivered the game winning hit in game four, Curt Schilling took out his tampon and put it on his ankle, and Pedro survived the seventh inning in game seven, everyone in Yankeeville stood around with their mouths agape, silently awaiting the Peter North of baseball to slide it in slowly, yet forcefully. It wasn’t just A-Rod, it was the whole fucking team. And somehow I’d like to think that the ghosts of baseball decided that the Yankees had had a fine run these last 100-years, but now it was their turn to suffer. For a very long time.
With the greatest post-season collapse ever etched in stone for all-time, thus displacing the legendary playoff collapses of the Cubs, Angels, and Red Sox, someone needed to take the fall. Joe Torre got his share of grief and almost got fired before Brian Cashman took a bullet for him and talked Mad King George out of it. Instead, Mel Stottlemeyer was later fired (after the 2005 season), Cashman was ordered to acquire an over the hill Randy Johnson, and Jeter sulked because Tino Martinez and Paul O’Neill were not there for the regular manage a’ trois in the shower.
But considering he slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove instead of running over the skinny little shit in game six, Yankee fans began to grouse about A-Rod, of all people. So did everyone else because it was convenient. Ignoring the glaring deficiencies of the club, everyone started in about whether Mickey Mantle would have slapped at the ball. Would Reggie Jackson have acted like a whiney cunt after he was called out? Fuck, no. Mantle or Reggie would have barreled through that skinny, cornrow-wearing little faggot, and if they had been called out for stomping on a pitcher’s nuts, both of them would have said, “I will do anything I have to to win.” That’s what Yankee fans want, not reality, nor a bitch who stands on second base behaving like a child who’s lying to his parents about breaking a lamp.
That was A-Rod’s sin. Instead of being a bad motherfucker, and putting an obviously flawed team on his back that swung at absolue shit, he was apparently exposed as a weak, little cocksucker and was branded as a player incapable of delivering in the “clutch” or on “baseball’s biggest stage.” That every other hitter in the Yankee lineup, including the “clutch” Saint Jeter (who hit .200 for the series), stopped hitting against the likes of Derek Lowe, didn’t matter. Nor did the fact that Kevin Brown and Javier Vasquez shit the bed, or that Jon Leiber was their best pitcher, and that an appearance by Mariano Rivera in the playoffs no longer meant an automatic win. No, now, it was Alex Rodriguez’s fault that the Yankees officially sucked Red Sox cawk.
A-Rod became the cause of all the Yankee ills. The locker room is disjointed and in disarray? Must be A-Rod’s fault because you know he’s not a vocal leader. A-Rod’s in a slump? Hey, he needs to man-up and pull himself out of it even if Jeter ostracizes him and poisons the well in the clubhouse because of some petty grudge. I mean, A-Rod’s the problem here, not Herr Captain, right? The pitching sucks? Well, we got A-Rod and he should be able to knock in three runs a night to make up for Randy Johnson’s flat slider that the Devil Rays are knocking all over the park. I mean, what’s he being paid all that money for, to jake it when I’m paying 100-bucks for these seats? For $252-million he better be winning the MVP every year and hitting .438 in the playoffs. We’re the Yankees damn it, and we deserve only the best!
And even when he tore the cover off the ball during the 2007 season, the criticism never abated. When he’d hit a game-winning walk-off home run, everyone would clap and cheer, then yell in each other’s ear over the din, “he’s gotta do it in October for it to mean anything!” When he’d make a gold glove caliber play, fans would just lean back and say, “what do you expect, he’s supposed to do that.” If he hit a slump, like every player does, he’d be booed incessently while the Bleacher Creatures would mutter, “he’s great and all, but he’s so fucking streaky.” It’s as if they expected him to be Reggie Jackson, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Thurman Munson all rolled into one. I guess I can’t blame them, especially since Jeter’s obviously gay and not half the leader or hitter any of those guys were.
Meawhile, everyone is lining up to chug Jeter’s cock for half the production and the same amount of World Series wins A-Rod has since the great teams of the late 90’s were broken up: Zero. On top of that, Jason Giambi, a known steroid user, is embraced by Herr Captain and given public encouragement while A-Rod was ostracized for not wanting to take hot showers with him in the dead of night. Plus, the Steinbrenners make snide remarks to the press, four-year-olds boo you because their dads call you a pussy, and the New York Post thinks it’s big news that you occassionally fool around on your wife, just like every other ballplayer in the history of the game. Under those circumstances, I’d leave a guaranteed fortune on the table, tell the Steinbrenners to go fuck themselves, and shop for a new team too.
Somehow, Alex Rodriguez has replaced Barry Bonds as the most hated baseball player on the planet. A guy with preternatural ability that transcends the game and is on his way to demolishing the record books is now a maligned figure for, of all things, not being the ultimate Yankee. The contract is a special sort of monkey on his back, but that’s not entirely his fault. Rodriguez says some incredibly stupid things in public, and he’s pulled some real winners on the field. The purse slap is more comical than anything, but when he yelled at Howie Clark in Toronto, “mine!”, on a pop up, he came across as some busher. Guys on the Blue Jays had to be restrained from beating the mortal shit out of A-Rod because interferring with calls on pop flies can be dangerous to a fielder’s health. Pulling that kind of shit gets legs broken.
So when Alex Rodriguez opted out of his contract, it came as no surprise. That his agent, Scott Boras apparently sent E-mails to all the sports writers covering the World Series during game four, did. Buster Olney went so far as to call Rodriguez the most selfish player in the game and said that any team who signs him would be giving up their soul. Hall of Fame nose picker and baseball writer Peter Gammons went on a tirade on ESPN Radio bitching and whining about how A-Rod impeded on the Red Sox moment in the sun. Of course not one word has been spoken or written bringing the Yankees to task for carrying out their tasteless firing of Joe Torre during the fucking playoffs. It’s all been about firing Joe, not the timing, which flatly goes against baseball’s tradition and rules of avoiding major announcements until after the World Series. Nor has Hank Steinbrenner’s ridiculous grandstanding over the whole matter during the ALCS and the World Series been spoken about at all. It’s all been about the hiring of the incredibly overrated Joe Girardi while leaving out the fact that when he was brought in, Don Mattingly was promised the manager’s job when Torre either retired or was fired. With that fucking team, and the hideous Steinbrenner offspring, even if they are not in the World Series, they still have to be the center of attention no matter how fat, ugly, stupid, and out of place they are. They are the epitome of crassness and boorish behavior. If there is any justice in the world of baseball, the Yankees won’t win another World Series for at least 100-plus years.
As for Rodriguez, you can almost see the monkey crawl off his back. It doesn’t matter where he goes now, he’s going to make his money regardless of who signs him. Unless he has a streak of Griffey-esque bad luck, he’s going to demolish the career home run mark and easily collect 3,000-hits. Either way, he’ll never have to listen to some idiot in a 150-dollar Yankees jersey call him a cocksucker and a pussy because he couldn’t make up in one swing the eight runs Mike Mussina just gave up in the third inning.
Chances are he signs in a smaller market with a friendlier fanbase. To say he was not a New York guy is to ignore the unreal numbers he put up there. You tell me, have they ever had a better third baseman in the history of that club? How many right-handed hitters stroll into Yankee Stadium – a park built for lefties – and rip off 36, 48, 35, and 54 home runs? The motherfucker is going to win his second MVP in pinstripes, two more than that cunt Jeter ever has in 13 years, and that fucking closet case has a 10-year, $189-million contract, but no one ever complains because he’s the new “Pride of the Yankees” and women all over Manhattan get moist just at the sight of the cocksucker.
The fact is that the Yankees fucked this one up on all fronts. Far removed from the days when prudence and judicious thought prevailed in the late-90’s, the Yankees are a collection of sideshow freaks and geeks, and Rodriguez was the smartest man in town when he decided to take a walk. Whether he goes to Boston, San Francisco or Los Angeles doesn’t matter, that he left the Yankees does. While the Yankees will predictably posture and preen and say that A-Rod could never measure up to the expectations or the pressure, and the fans will deride him as a pussy and a choke artist, the inverse is true. The Yankees, for all their resources, could never put together a club that was complete and whole. Rodriguez delivered day in and day out, changed positions for Jeter, and killed the fucking ball, but the Yankees did nothing to support him besides sign the checks. As for the fans, they just pissed away four years of bitching about the best player (yes, better than Bonds) since Ruth, and instead bitched about him as if he were Danny Tartabull. What would you do, stay and try to prove them wrong while everyone incessently goes after you like a convicted child molester? Fuck that, I’m on my way to San Francisco for some of Peter Magowan’s cash and a piece of the team after I retire as I work on breaking Bonds’ record. Oh, and the Giants have better young pitching, no matter what you may think of Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes.
As for the Yankees, enjoy The Curse of Alex Rodriguez. He may not win one, but until you atone for your sins – including running off the best player of this generation – you’ll never win another World Series. Bank it, bitches.