Why the Yankees Have Mentally Lost Alex Rodriguez for the Rest of His Career

Ron JuckettContributor IIIOctober 17, 2012

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 16:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees looks on during batting practice against the Detroit Tigers during game three of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 16, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

This was not a good night for the slugging New York Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

His team dropped a close 2-1 game to the Detroit Tigers in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series to fall into a 3-0 hole.

Two of New York's tabloids have reported that he was flirting with female fans after being subbed for Saturday and—despite hitting two home runs off of Justin Verlander in his career—was benched Tuesday night like he was for last Friday's deciding ALDS game against Baltimore.

While Rodriguez smiled broadly at times in the dugout during Game 3, there now is a pretty substantial rift between the prized slugger and the Yankees' brain trust of manager Joe Girardi and General Manager Brian Cashman.

The public words for the benching were said to be for performance as the Yankees tried to put a lineup for Game 3 that featured speed and small ball.

The simple "no comment" that were making the rounds through the press, however, might have told a tea leaf reader a different story.

It will be very hard whenever the Yankees' 2012 season ends for Rodriguez and Girardi to get back on the same page.

The first benching was clearly designed to spark a fire with his high-dollar superstar, but the lack of production that haunted Rodriguez through the Baltimore series followed him for the first two games at home against the Tigers.

He was pinch-hit for in Game 1 before the Yankees fought back to force extra innings.

On Tuesday, he never even had a bat in his hand as the Yankees finally chased Verlander in the ninth for a run and had the go-ahead run on first base.

Girardi's pinch-hitter to face Phil Coke? Nick Swisher.

In five days, we have gone from kick in the pants to outright mistrust.

The problem going forward for the Yankees and Rodriguez is that as much as they do not want to be together anymore, his $29 million in salary will be nearly impossible to move unless New York is prepared to eat a substantial portion of it. His deal still has four years to run.

It does not seem likely that either Girardi or Cashman will be going anywhere for 2013 as the Yankees have battled the Tigers very hard for a team staring down a 3-0 deficit.

If the Yankees will not trust him to play in the biggest games of the year and he has been benched for their last two—then what reassurances will he get that it will not happen again.

Rodriguez was so unhappy with Joe Torre that he opted out of his contract for free agency the night the Boston Red Sox swept the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies.

As Rodriguez tries to figure out what his best for his future, it is hard to see him really caring much either way at this point about the Yankees.

Never considered a beloved player in New York, this signifies the beginning of the end in pinstripes for Rodriguez.

Unless there is a front office house cleaning this off-season, this relationship will continue to strain and eventually will break, if it has not already.