Alex Rodriguez is supposedly retiring after Friday’s game in Boston. I say supposedly because I am not buying that Friday will be Rodriguez’s last game. I am buying that it will be his last game as a Yankee. But it will not be his last game as a professional ballplayer. The Yankees are forcing him into retirement. Whether that is fair or not is a discussion for another time. The Yankees have every right to release Rodriguez as long as they are willing to pay him. That is their right as an organization and if they wish to execute that right so be it.
Coming into Tuesday’s game against the Red Sox, I actually thought that the Yankees, and Rodriguez, had handled the situation very professionally. The Yankees made a clear effort not to release Rodriguez without his knowledge or a “proper” send off. However, with four games left in his Yankee career, Joe Girardi elected to keep Rodriguez out of the lineup Tuesday night. Girardi, before the game, claimed that Rodriguez’s absence from the lineup was because the Yankees are “trying to win games.” I mean, really? That is the best excuse he could come up with? Maybe, just maybe, I would believe Girardi if the Yankees had not just traded four of their best players. Maybe, just maybe, I would have believe Girardi if Tuesday night’s lineup did not feature two hitters batting under .200.
We all know that Rodriguez is a sliver of his past self, but the Yankees are not “trying to win games” by benching him. Girardi can make that claim all he wants, but the fans, and the media, are not buying it. And, for good reason. Rodriguez is not great anymore, but neither are the Yankees. His career with the Yankees has been a roller coaster, but without Rodriguez the Yankees would likely still be in the mist of a twenty-six year world championship title drought. Without the 2009 championship, Girardi and Cashman would both probably be gone.
Over the past two years, Rodriguez has done so much to repair his image. He has not complained about his lack of playing time. He has not complained about the Yankees releasing him. He has quietly become the voice of reason in this situation. This week, however, the Yankees are testing Rodriguez’s patience. When asked about not being in Tuesday nights lineup, although he was visibly upset, Rodriguez took the high road. He continues to take the high road. He continues to be the bigger person in this situation.
Alex Rodriguez deserves to play. If the Yankees do not want to play Rodriguez, so be it. But do not claim that his absence from the lineup is because the Yankees are “trying to win games.” No one is buying it. No one should buy it. Rodriguez deserves better than this.