Sometimes I wonder if anyone understands that the New York Yankees are in the baseball business rather than politics or public relations:
Nine more years. Nine long, bold-headlined years. That is how much longer the Yankees are contractually obligated to put up with always-something Alex Rodriguez. With his celebrity distractions, his need to be noticed, his clubhouse-integration issues, his Derek Jeter envy and, yes, his prime-time failures.
Nine years, and now, it appears, without the authentic historic payoff that Hank Steinbrenner and the Yankees were so seduced by, they couldn’t wait to sign A-Rod to a deal that would carry him well past his 40th birthday and could cost them $300 million . . .
. . . The Yankees were the most ardent admirers of Rodriguez and are also positioned to be the biggest suckers, given the contract they gave him, along with promises of bonuses for every home-run hero he passes. They convinced themselves that A-Rod was the man for the 21st-century reclamation of baseball’s tarnished record book — except they conveniently forget he was taking major league swings as early as 1994.
As much as anyone, he is a product of a decade in which the sport took a pharmaceutical path that, for too many reputations, has become the road to ruin.
This screed — in the New York Times, not the tabloids — only makes passing mention of the fact that people care about the New York Yankees because they are a baseball team, and that to the extent they care about Alex Rodriguez, it is because he is the best player on that team. Yes, many people will complain about the latest steroid news. I suppose even a few may give up on Rodriguez and the Yankees altogether, though if they do they are drama queens of the first order.
But to suggest that the Yankees are somehow suckers and Rodriguez somehow worthless in light of all of this is to misunderstand why anyone pays attention in the first place. It’s baseball. It’s a game. Alex Rodriguez will continue to play it better than just about any player. The Yankees will continue to win games at a clip surpassing just about any team. And the fans will continue to show up and root for them both — the latter far more than the former, of course — just the way they have for the past 109 years.