At the team’s second press conference in three days, the Yankees announced he is being released from the organization and will play one last game on August 12. He struggled mightily in 2016 before being banished to the bench. Now that the Yankees have sold and given up on the season, the team seems to be in a transition. Younger players are expected to be called up soon and a washed up A-Rod just didn’t have a place on this team anymore.
It seemed by the press conference that the Yankees were ready to release him and they gave him an opportunity to bow out gracefully. As part of this agreement, the organization will hire Rodriguez as a a special advisor and instructor through 2017. He had one year left on his 10-year contract, but at the age of 41 it was clear that he was done. This is the end of the Alex Rodriguez era of Yankees baseball. It might be one year early, but 13 years is still a long time for any one player to play for any one team.
Most fans will look on this time in Yankees history with contempt and embarrassment, but it’s important to remember the good times we had with him too. He lied, he cheated, but he also played well. It’s hard to ignore seven All-Star appearances, two MVP awards, three Silver Sluggers, multiple home run milestones, 3,000 hits, and a World Series championship. That’s more than you can ask for from anyone.
We went through a lot with him over the years, a tumultuous roller coaster of a relationship, but I believe in redemption. We should all believe in the ability to overcome your own shortcomings. Alex Rodriguez is not a perfect man by any means, but he’s better than some who are still beloved by many.
The problem with Alex Rodriguez was always his ability to surround himself with the wrong people. He’s been in the majors since the age of 18 and I highly doubt this was a good environment to grow up in. He has been awkward and weird, and he’s made a lot of mistakes, but this is a man who never really had to grow up. He was destined for greatness as a teenager and it took a long time for him to mature.
As soon as he came to the Yankees, he was compared to Derek Jeter, whether it was fair or not. No one could ever compare to the immaculate Jeter, and someone like Rodriguez had no hope to measure up in temperament or attitude. He tried, but the spotlight made him an easy target for both on the field and off the field shenanigans. It took him longer than most to grow up, but once he hit rock bottom he saw the light and did good by those who had supported him.
Despite his flaws and in spite of all the constant drama surrounding him at every turn, Alex Rodriguez is a true legend among ballplayers. He deserves to be remembered as a Good Yankee, to have his number retired, and get a plaque in Monument Park. It may take years for things to calm down, but when cooler heads prevail, it should not be forgotten that he deserves a place in the Hall of Fame, right next to all the other imperfect athletes we like to imagine as gods.
The Yankees see that and their decision to bring him on as an instructor proves that. Rodriguez is a true student of the game, always discussing strategy and mechanics, and always very interested in mentoring the next generation of baseball players. Say what you want about him as a person, but you can’t question his devotion to baseball. The organization sees that.
We’re witnessing the end of an era in Yankees baseball, but also for MLB. He is the last active player who played before the 1994 strike and at this point he is a living representation of the steroid era and our growing ability to forgive those who broke our trust. After the 2015 season he had, it looked like he would finish out his career in style, but it’s important to remember that most legends never truly go out the way they want to.