What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
You can say whatever you want about the long, strange trip Alex Rodriguez’ career has been. He’s gone from rookie wunderkind to gargantuan-money free-agent, to World Series villian turned hero, to steroid-tainted fallen idol, to a late-career Phoenician rise.
This Friday, it all comes to an end. With his retirement on Friday, Rodriguez closes the book on the “on-field” chapter of his career and opens the “front office” portion. Once he retires, A-rod slides right into a role as a “Special Advisor.” Forget the fact I have no idea what that means. Rather, think about how many guys make such a transformation. Give your self a cigar if you said “not very many.”
Am I the only one who finds that more than a tad bit curious?
Not to mention, this retirement starts the clock…the Baseball Writers Association of America now have five years warning to decide what they are going to do with the steroid issue. A-Rod’s retirement sets the stage for a de facto referendum on the Hall of Fame and steroids. Don’t think for a minute that’s settled issue, and “A-Roid” is going to be the poster-child for how this turns out.
Having said all that, let’s start with the both the timing and the mechanics of this retirement.
The Yanks just traded a bunch of guys, Mark Texieria is retiring, which means they are getting out from under some big contracts, and A-Rod’s is the biggest. Just on it’s face, this retirement is a “win-win” as Yanks get his salary off the player personnel books, which in turn gets them out of “Luxury Tax” territory, and A-Rod still gets paid.
The first one which comes to my mind is why now? It’s been obvious for quite some time Rodriguez couldn’t play in the field anymore, and lately he’s been getting at-bats at DH parcelled out with an eye-dropper. Obviously he’s been being It’s been clear for a while A-Rod was being “phased out,” so why did this happen now, and more importantly, why didn’t they just release him?
We will never know what really happened behind closed doors, but there’s some stuff we do know which casts serious light on this.
Then, comes the “surprise” retirement announcement of Mark Texieira. Either way, he was an unrestricted free agent heading into 2017, and it was pretty clear that his days in Yankee pinstripes were over. The bottom line is the Yankees’ dropped $22.5 million in guaranteed payroll.
Then all of a sudden, A-Rod’s moving upstairs. 2017 was the last year on his contract, which guaranteed him $21 million dollars, plus incentives, such as a $6 million each for passing home runs #700, #715, #755 , and tying/breaking the major league home run record.
So, let’s’ go back to the original questions. Releasing A-Rod does the Yankees no good, his contract is guaranteed. They have to pay him anyway, and releasing him locks in that money as a player salary, which counts toward the dreaded “Luxury Tax.” If that weren’t enough, don’t forget…this contract has been the subject of a legal dispute before. The Yankees tried to use the Biogenesis scandal and Rodriguez’ resulting suspension to void his contract. Once that failed, there was no realistic way to release A-Rod without risking being sued for depriving him of the chance to hit those incentives.
That begs the question…what did the Yankees have to give A-Rod to agree to this deal? After all, he’s getting his $21 million for 2017 no matter what; that was guaranteed money…unless he retires. Hanging up the spikes also costs him the shot at millions more in incentives. If that weren’t enough, the whole notion of retiring and stepping into a front office job is nothing short of a “Luxury Tax” windfall for the Yankees.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said there “was no settlement” concerning the current contract. That’s probably true, but then again, “settlement” is a precise legal term which would only apply to the current contract, which has already been disputed. However, that also does not mean there wasn’t an agreement subsequent to that contract as to how the end of this would play out.
If you doubt that, ask yourself why does this new front-office job last exactly for the duration of that original contract?
Now, if you’re tired of talking about the business end of this story, you’re in luck. Thanks to the hypocrisy of the self-appointed steroid moralists, Alex Rodriguez’ retirement starts a five-year clock. Like I said, this puts the BBWAA on notice. Five years from now, it will be time to put their votes where their mouths are.
Also as I said, it’s a big mistake to assume this is is a settled matter. Sure, the sports media world is a never-ending sewer-pipe of hand-wringing over how all performance-enhacing drugs are a bigger scourge to humanity than chewing tobacco, the Zika virus, and reruns of “Friends” combined, but there’s a kinky wrinkle in that.
Two of the biggest symbols of this era of “Chemical McCarthyism” have jobs in baseball as we speak, Don’t forget that Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were suspended by MLB simply for being near gambling. We all know Pete Rose has been banished by baseball. But Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds can be seen in a dugout in major league uniform as you read this. After Friday. A-Rod is going to have an office with his name on the door in the corporate headquarters of the flagship franchise in all of MLB.
Think about that for a minute. Baseball itself isn’t ostracizing the PED crowd; the writers are. Many of those same writers champion the re-instatement of Pete Rose. Here at Dubsism, we debunked all the buzz around that false narrative. But what can’t be debated is the divide amongst the writers over the Hall of Fame fates of the “steroid guys.”
To see it, one need look no further that this past year’s Hall of Fame vote. Noted figures painted with the steroid brush have very dissimilar results. Mark McGwire only got 12% of the ballot in his last year on the ballot. But Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds both got ~ 45% of the vote this time around, and they are both steadfastly trending upwards. There’s only been a handful of players to get more than 40% in a vote and not eventually be inducted.
The prime indicator for how this might break comes in 2019 which just so happens to be Andy Pettitte’s first year on the ballot. Sure he got popped for the juice, but he apologized. There’s been a lot of forgiveness for guys who had a press conference where they at least looked contrite. That’s called the Pettitte/Giambi rule.
While A-Rod may never have done a formal mea culpa, his rise from the ashes in 2015 leading the aging Yankees to a wild-card spot, got him off the hook with a lot of writers. Oh, and there’s that small matter of a World Series Championship in 2009
Speaking of which, the writers also love a guy who had post-season success with the Yankees. We’re already calling Andy Pettitte “the greatest post-season pitcher ever.” Buy that label or not, it’s just a setup because really…how can you not have “the greatest post-season pitcher ever” in Cooperstown.
Slice it anyway you want, it all comes down to this. Sure, Rodriguez has been a douch-hammer for the majority of his career, but Cooperstown isn’t home to the Golly-Gee-Whiz Nice Guy Hall of Fame. He’s one of the greatest players to ever wear a uniform, and that’s the end of the discussion. You can try to sell my that “steroid” garbage one last time, but I’ve debunked that time and time again here. Every competitive sport in the world involves cheating; being selective about which cheaters are worse than other is simply an exercise in idiocy and hypocrisy.
At some point, a “steroid guy” is getting in the Hall…it’s just a matter of time. When it does, two things will happen. Mark McGwire becomes the “Shoeless” Joe of the “steroid” era, meaning the guy who never got convicted of anything and never broke a rule ends up pays the price anyway. Alex Rodriguez thumbed his nose at the system, got paid millions for doing it, and will be there to see it in some capacity.
If that doesn’t convince you of the hypocrisy of the self-appointed steroid moralists, nothing will.
Steve Spurrier is now a “special advisor” to the University of Florida. We have no idea what that means either, except that there’s a lot of free golf involved. But at least he’s earned it and is qualified to play the part.
Here’s the thing. The Yankees knew what they were getting themselves into when they signed the guy to mega-millions in the first place. They had to have the foresight to know this day was coming and that they would ultimately get saddled with a monster contract and a player that wasn’t living up to it, (see: Lakers and Kobe’s last contract)
While this might sting the Chanks a little bit, finally getting Teixeira and Rodriguez out of their hair (physically just not financially) is at least a step in the right direction, which is rebuilding that team the way they once did.
And even though it mean tens of millions of dollars, for a team like the Yanks, that’s still a small price to pay for freedom.
One difference (since you brought it up). The Lakers have a long tradition of giving their aging superstars a fat contract at the end of their careers. Never once did they try to sue their way out of one like the Yanks did with A-Rod.
I’m not saying it wasn’t worth it on L.A.’s part to ink that deal. They sold plenty of tickets and merch on that Kobe farewell tour.
All I’m suggesting by comparing the deals is that both franchises handcuffed themselves for bit and both knew what they were doing when they got into those deals in the first place.
That I can buy.
“I didn’t get a harumph out of that guy.” – Gov. William J. LePetomaine