Alex Rodriguez Passes Willie Mays for 4th Place on MLB's All-Time Home Run List

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2015

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Just six days after tying Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez claimed the spot all for his own by hammering the 661st homer of his career Thursday, per SportsCenter.   

Jack Curry of Yes Network reported more details on the situation:

The home run came in the bottom of the third inning off Baltimore starter Chris Tillman at Yankee Stadium.

It was only a matter of time before Rodriguez passed the Say Hey Kid. He entered 2015 needing just seven homers to move into sole possession of fourth. Although some had doubts as to how much he had left in the tank, Rodriguez has been one of the Yankees' best hitters this year.

A-Rod's 660th home run came May 1 in a pinch-hit appearance against the Boston Red Sox, providing the go-ahead run in a 3-2 win for the Yankees.

Years ago, Rodriguez's pursuit of history captivated baseball fans across the country. With the way he started his career, the 39-year-old looked like the only living player with a chance at passing Barry Bonds for the top spot on the all-time list.

However, his admitted history with performance-enhancing drugs and yearlong suspension in 2014 have taken a lot of the gloss off his chase. ESPN's Ryen Russillo feels that nothing would eat away more at Rodriguez's psyche than the perceived apathy surrounding his most noteworthy accomplishment so far:

As if Rodriguez's attempt to catch Bonds, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron isn't captivating enough, a mini-controversy is also brewing between the third baseman and his current employer.

Written into Rodriguez's contract was a series of bonuses he would receive in the event he reached certain home run milestones. Upon hitting No. 660, he was supposed to get $6 million. However, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made it clear that the team doesn't plan on paying the bonus.

"We have the right, but not the obligation to do something, and that's it," Cashman said, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale. "We're going to honor our responsibilities of the contract. So there is no dispute, from our perspective. ... It's not you do this, you get that. It's completely different."

ESPN.com's Dan Szymborski doubted that both Rodriguez and his agent, Scott Boras, would have allowed language like that included in the deal:

Nightengale also provided the part of the contract in question: "It's the sole discretion of the New York Yankees to determine whether each of these milestones is commercially marketable as the home run chase. The Yankees have the right, but not the obligation, to determine whether it's a commercially marketable milestone."

The next legend on the home run ladder is Ruth. Rodriguez needs 53 more homers to tie the Sultan of Swat, so it seems highly unlikely he'll get there in 2015. Should he play another year, though, Ruth could be well within reach.