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Pay-Rod strikes again

October 30, 2007 - Chris Masse
Once again now former New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was a zero in the postseason. His lack of production when the games matter most was a big reason the Yankees lost to the Cleveland Indians in the first round of the American League playoffs.

A-Rod, though, made sure he stayed in the spotlight. A-Rod has never played in a world series and, because he so routinely goes belly-up in the postseason, he maybe never will. But A-Rod still found a way to keep himself in the spotlight during last week's World Series when his agent Scott Boras announced that he would opt out of his contract with the Yankees during Game 4.

Maybe A-Rod figured this was the only way he could do anything to make headlines during the World Series. Maybe since A-Rod has never played in the World Series he simply forgot that they play baseball in late October. Whatever the case, what A-Rod did was classless. The Red Sox were completing a sweep of the Colorado Rockies and had rightfully earned the spotlight. Leave it to a me-first player like A-Rod to try and divert the public's attention back to himself.

But really, should we be surprised A-Rod would do something like this? This is the same player who signed a 10-year, 252-million dollar contract with the Texas Rangers following the 2000 season. A-Rod claims he wants to win but then did he turn down the Atlanta Braves, a perennial world series contender back then, and instead sign with a bad Rangers team that had no pitching and no hope of contending? Simply put, he followed the money.

So forgive me if I didn't get misty-eyed when A-Rod started whining in 2003 that he was tired of losing. He could not even lead the Rangers to a winning season in his three years with Texas but he dug his own grave there. If he really wanted to win, he would have signed with a contender for less money...or he would have stayed with the Seattle Mariners who had made the playoffs three times in A-Rod's first six seasons of major league baseball, including in 2000.

But I digress. Mr. April has consistently put up big numbers for the Yankees since being traded to them prior to the 2004 season. He also has perenially done nothing in the postseason and helped the Yankees win just one postseason series in four seasons. That win came in 2004. But after the Yankees went up 3-0 in that year's ALCS against Boston, A-Rod went into helpless mode and became the equivalent of a Steve Jeltz in the Yankees lineup. When the truly great players shine, A-Rod was at his worst and the Yankees have since lost 13 of 17 playoff games. And for those great performances, A-Rod now wants even more money, probably something around 30 million a year.

So I ask a guy who claims he wants to win this question--how much money is enough, A-Rod? Do you really need any more money than you already have?

A-Rod was competing for a Yankees team that always is in contention for a World Series. The Yankees have not missed the postseason since 1993, but yet A-Rod wants out. Ironically, the Rangers are one of the teams rumored to be going after A-Rod. The same Rangers who were terrible last year. But if the price is right, you can bet A-Rod will sign on the dotted line. Don't let anything A-Rod says fool you. He has proven that winning means little to him, but money means everything.

And honestly, why would any team pay A-Rod the kind of money he is demanding? Yes, he is a great player who puts up great regular-season numbers but this is a team game and what has he done to help his teams reach the World Series? Prior to A-Rod's arrival, the Yankees had played in six of eight World Series and won four of them. Since A-Rod has been there, the Yankees have not gone to the World Series and reached just one ALCS and blew a 3-0 lead to the Red Sox as A-Rod did nothing in the last four games.

You can bet the Yankees will be better next year without A-Rod. How can I say that you ask? Just look at the teams A-Rod has left in the past. The Mariners won their first division title in four years after A-Rod left in 2001 and won a staggering 116 games. After he left Texas, the once-hapless Rangers made an amazing turnaround, won 91 games and nearly captured the A.L. West championship. The three years the Rangers had A-Rod, they finished last each time.

All A-Rod does is tie up your payroll so that you cannot sign quality players throughout your team to make that group better. The Rangers were hamstrung when A-Rod was there because they could not afford better players. Why would any team want to do that to themselves again? There's a reason Red Sox fans were chanting "don't sign A-Rod," Sunday night. They know A-Rod is the best fantasy baseball player in the game. But they know when it comes to real baseball and big games A-Rod is just another player--a selfish one without a ring. Not that that seems to bother A-Rod.

Most baseball players dream of growing up and winning a World Series. It seems like Pay-Rod dreams of rolling around in a pile of money.


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