By Jason Keidel
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The Yankees are so thoroughly sick of Alex Rodriguez that their laconic GM, Brian Cashman, lost his eternally monotone mien on Tuesday.
After A-Rod opened a Twitter account and announced that he's been cleared to perform all baseball activities, the typically diplomatic Cashman decided to teach the disgraced third baseman his first online acronym...
You could see Cashman's anger rising like a thermometer over the last few years. He was ardently opposed to giving A-Rod a new contract of any kind in 2007, much less the mammoth extension bestowed upon perhaps the most polarizing player on Earth. Hal or Hank Steinbrenner -- or both -- opened the vault and handed A-Rod a shovel, making the GM look like a fool.
Then Cashman recently said that he hoped Rodriguez would return to an "above-average" third basemen, which is how Cashman described A-Rod's play last year. And he's right. The problem is that the Yankees still owe A-Rod about $100 million, which doubles as a financial anvil around the team's neck, particularly when pondering Hal Steinbrenner's newfound frugality. Steinbrenner suddenly sees the $189 salary cap as a flaming line in the corporate sand. It's a shame that he didn't feel that way when he made it rain on Rodriguez five years ago.
A-Rod's instincts are always alarmingly wrong. Forget, if you can, the shirtless sunning in Central Park, Madonna, his alleged flying of strippers around the nation and the reported illegal poker games. That's just a PR appetizer.
He opted out of the aforementioned contract during the 2007 World Series, wrenching the attention from the diamond, where it belonged.
He told Katie Couric that he never took PEDs, knowing full well that he did.
Then came his vague mea culpa in 2009, filled with pseudo-apologies, abstract cousins and conduits and the assertion that sometime between Texas and the Bronx he had an epiphany, that he no longer needed steroids to succeed.
Then he speed-dials Anthony Bosch, who is allegedly the biggest dope dealer since Marlo Stanfield. Then he summons Bosch to Detroit during last years American League Championship Series. Allegedly, of course.
Then, while mired in the muck of a 1-for-9 slump, he smiles at the camera with a "Hi mom" and then decides it's good form to ask a woman in the stands for her digits.
Then he starts a Twitter account and morphs into a physician, rather than keep his head to the ground and lift, sprint and swing his way back to the field -- where he could, ideally, become an above-average third baseman. A team normally makes the announcement regarding a player's status. But not with A-Rod, who sees himself as above the monotony of authority.
On its own merit, this is a rather microscopic transgression, under normal climes. But A-Rod isn't normal, and he needs to know that he walks on cultural eggshells as long as he's the highest-paid player on America's most successful team. Maybe he'll learn when it's too late, which would be pro forma for pro sports.
Yes, the Yankees asked for this when they traded for Rodriguez, who appropriately occupies the hot corner, where he resides on and off the diamond. And while they're the most recognized brand in baseball, they're the most reviled. No one will feel sorry for the Yankees if their ancient, overpriced player runs his cyber-mouth.
A few weeks ago, I called for A-Rod to retire. A-Rod's apologists -- and there's still a numbing number of them -- called me every vulgarity in the catalogue.
"Would you leave $100 million on the table?" was the standard retort.
I don't know. I'm not A-Rod.
Thank heaven for that.
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