Alex Rodriguez: Why Staying with the Yankees Will Kill His Career
Brave? Yes. Smart? That's an entirely different matter.
Rodriguez is set to make $28 million next year at the getting-up-there age of 37. That's a lot of money for a man who rode the pine when the Yankees season was on the line.
He could have agreed to waive his no-trade clause and allowed the team to ship him off to a new destination. He could have gotten a fresh-ish (sadly, the Internet follows you everywhere, I hear) start in a non-sports-crazy town like Miami or Anaheim.
Instead, Rodriguez is willing to risk his career by staying in New York. And that's exactly what will be taken from him.
Let's Dispense With the Obvious: The Yankees Play in New York
It has to be mentioned: New York is a tough place to play.
There won't be any time for Rodriguez to find his swing or adjust his game as he ages. Yankee Stadium is not a retirement home, it's more like a thunderdome.
Every time he fails (which has been happening with a higher frequency lately), the attention paid to him will be ridiculous. He's handled the pressure before; apparently he believes he still can.
The Yankees are a Crumbling Empire
The last Yankees championship came in 2009. George Steinbrenner died in 2010. Coincidence? Possibly, but there are other indicators that things won't be the same for the players in pinstripes for a few years.
The team has unfathomable amounts of cash locked into players whose production has slipped while they've aged. As Jonah Keri computed, New York has $147 million invested in just seven players.
And it isn't as if this team is devoid of holes.
The pitching staff goes two deep in terms of reliability and the offense was just equaled by Delmon Young in the ALCS. Plus, don't forget that Mariano Rivera is an impending free agent who is coming off a nasty knee injury.
This may seem like a lot of doom and gloom for a team that won 95 games, but New York can't continue to count on players who aren't just entering their twilight stage—they're leaving it.
Now, bringing everything back to Steinbrenner, is there any guarantee that current management will be willing to spend as recklessly as the Boss did? Even if the head men do have the same desire to win at all costs, the numbers are starting to become astronomical. How much money can they spend? There has to be a ceiling somewhere.
So Why Stick Around?
The end of A-Rod's career wasn't supposed to go like this. He was going to pursue the career home runs record with a fistful of rings from playing with the Yankees.
Instead, he'll be remembered in New York as the man who ushered the team from an era of greatness to an era of uncertainty.
There isn't much left for Rodriguez in the Big Apple.
Rodriguez could have gracefully said goodbye, thanked the organization for a wonderful time and re-wrote the ending to his story in a new locale. Now, he'll be trying to mend things on the fly.
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