I don’t cover sports much in The Independent Agenda, but sometimes sports news sheds light on what’s going on in the rest of the world. And sometimes I get so angry I need to write about it.
Case in point: Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees.
One of the most gifted athletes ever, Rodriquez was the youngest player to hit 600 home runs and the only player ever to have more than 100 runs batted in (RBIs) in 14 major league seasons. If you’re not a baseball fan, that’s a very big deal.
He seemed on track to break the career home run records of Henry Aaron and Barry Bonds, if you believe that alleged steroid user Bonds’ record is real. (I don’t.)
Rodriquez himself admitted to using steroids during the bad old days of 2001 to 2003 and may have used other performance-enhancing drugs, too. His personal life is a tabloid magnet, with a nasty divorce, public dating of celebrities like Madonna, Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz, and allegations of cavorting with hookers in various towns.
His ten-year, $275-million contract with the Yankees is the richest in baseball history. It surpassed even his previous $252-million contract with the Texas Rangers, signed by a desperate owner, private equity mogul Tom Hicks.
Other desperate owners, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner, Sons of the Boss, signed A-Rod to his current deal in 2007. Since then, Rodriguez did help the Bronx Bombers win their only world championship of the last decade.
But his body has been breaking down. He missed the early part of the 2009 season after getting a hip replacement. Now he will have the other hip replaced and won’t return to the line-up until at least next July. 2012 was his least productive season, hitting only .272 with 18 home runs in 122 games. He was horrendous in the playoffs and was benched by manager Joe Girardi.
And even if the surgery is successful, he will be 38 years old with two surgically repaired hips. Don’t expect him to make many big plays at third base. And who knows if he’ll ever recover his hitting stride?
Meanwhile the Yankees are spending $40 million a year for his services, if you include the luxury tax they have to pay Major League Baseball for going over the salary cap. That’s completely the Steinbrenners’ fault for making this stupid deal. But Rodriguez’s contract lasts for five more years.
There’s no way he’ll get to 43 as the prime player the Yankees signed in the mid-2000s. He’d be collecting tens of millions but not earning his pay.
Sound familiar? Incompetent CEOs walk away with millions after running companies into the ground. Politicians hang on well into their late seventies and eighties—like, say, former Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar or Utah Sen. Orin Hatch or New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg—just because they can, and their vanity gets the best of them.
A-Rod might need all that money to fund his lavish life style, but the handwriting is on the wall. He should go to the Yankees and propose a buyout of the rest of his contract at a deep discount and maybe get a cushy deal as a pitchman or broadcaster in return.
I doubt he will, but it’s the right thing to do. Maybe he can redeem his previous mistakes by retiring with class, of which he’s shown far too little in his baseball career.