Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Posted by el duque at 7:12 AM
Nobody will take him in a trade - not Miami, which birthed him, not Seattle, which drafted him, not Texas, which juiced him. The last six pitchers to face him have poured fastballs into his wheelhouse, which is a house without a wheel. He couldn't hit them. He is four A-Bombs shy of 700, and unless MLB brings Denny McLain, (now 72) out of retirement, he might not make it.
Often, sluggers at the end of the line grow huffy, indignant - blaming management or their bunions. They go down like a dirty whirlpool. What's different here is A-Rod's sentience. This is what he said yesterday:
“No matter what happens, I’m at peace with myself. Make it very clear. I have two responsibilities: One is to contribute offensively when given the chance, and No. 2 is to help — I want to be careful to say, ‘Mold young players,’ because I’ve made more mistakes than anybody — but if they need some guidance, I think it’s important, whether I do it or another veteran player does it.”
In that paragraph, you could say Alex Rodriguez sounds presidential. It's the tone Donald Trump should have adopted with that Gold Star family, rather than getting pissy. They are the words of a thoughtful, self-aware man, who throughout his career has faced levels of hatred - some earned, some purely irrational - that are routinely associated with Hillary Clinton. Last night, as he came up for what could have been his last at bat ever - (frankly, any at bat could be his last) - he was lustily booed by a New York crowd. Unless he finishes in Yankee Stadium, he will almost surely be jeered. There will be no farewell tour, no designer cowboy boots given by grateful adversaries. It's a good thing they don't allow fans to bring tomatoes.
When A-Rod retires - I assume it will require a buyout - the Yankees might fall below Food Stamps Steinbrenner's all-critical luxury tax threshold. It probably won't matter next winter, because the free agent class will be so thin. But in following years, A-Rod's legacy could hold sway with certain players. Bryce Harper grew up a rabid Yankee fan, watching A-Rod. Manny Machado wears Number 13 to honor his idol. It would be convenient for the Yankees - and Yankee fans - to blame their troubles on A-Rod. It would also be wrong. The Yankees need to pay Alex not only the money, but the respect he deserves.
Since the weekend trades, Brian Cashman seems to be taking victory laps everywhere. You'd almost think he had nothing to do with the policies that left this franchise so desperate and downtrodden. Last night, watching the Tankees fail, all I could think of was - "same old, same old." We have a tortuously boring, downhill-sliding cascade of veterans - Castro, Headley, Tex, Gardy, Ellsbury, McCann - who give little hope. Any one of them should be writing down A-Rod's words and memorizing them, because frankly, I don't see any of them being on the next Yankee world championship team, probably three or four years away. What's most galling is that, in several situations, we're talking about hitters who simply could not - or would not - adapt to defensive over-shifts. If they'd learned to bunt or go to the opposite field - in other words, practice, practice, practice - they could wreck the defensive schemes. They simply did not, to the detriment of their team, and the disillusionment of their fans.
From here on, the 2016 Yankees will be an Agatha Christie novel. One by one, they're going to vanish. A-Rod might be the first. Or he might be the last. But he's going, boys, and there won't be anybody like him again. He doesn't deserve to be booed.