New York – Sunday, August 7th will be a day forever remembered in baseball history. On Sunday, embattled slugger Alex Rodriguez sat down with Ken Rosenthal and officially announced he will play his final game on Friday in Yankee Stadium, corresponding with an official announcement from Yankees GM Brian Cashman in a press conference in New York.
After Friday, he will remain with the team through the season as an ambassador, instructor, and special advisor to team owner Hal Steinbrenner.
He did not rule out playing in 2017, only saying “my horizon is pinstripes and Friday. It’s been such an emotional couple of days that I can’t really think beyond that right now.”
Rodriguez, 41, playing in his twenty first season, will take his final at bats against AL East rival Tampa Bay.
After being suspended for the entirety of the 2014 season after the Biogenisis scandal, most thought Alex Rodriguez and baseball were over. Rodriguez attempted to challenge the suspension and sue MLB, the players association, Yankees doctor Christopher Ahmad and New York Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center, but eventually dropped all lawsuits.
During this time, Alex had an apparent epiphany and made it his mission entering spring training in 2015 with the goal of fixing fractured relationships with his teammates, union, Yankees front office, the commissioner, and fans of baseball around the world.
He was able to do some of that with his play on the field in 2015. Nobody thought he would be good again. Nobody thought he would hit 33 home runs and flirt with 100 rbi in his first season back from suspension in that 2015 season.
Raise your hand if you thought you’d see Rodriguez playing in 100+ games his first year back? 120+ games? How about 151 games?
That’s exactly what Alex did in 2015. 151 games played, 33 home runs, and 86 rbi. Another “wow” in a career full of “wow’s” both for magnificent accomplishment and magnificent failures (mostly on the public relations side of life).
2016 has painted a different picture for the aging superstar. Over the last two weeks, Rodriguez has started only once in the last 14 Yankees games.
For those afraid of Rodriguez passing the final all time greats on the home run list in Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, rest easy, he most likely won’t even get to 700 home runs. Standing just four home runs short of magical number 700, he would have to play (and homer) in all three games in Boston starting Monday, as well as his final game Friday against Tampa Bay.
Rodriguez has only hit one home run since June 18 and is batting .204 with a .609 OPS, both career lows.
When asked about the probability of missing 700 home runs, Rodriguez said, “it’s disappointing. It would have been a lot of fun to give it a crack. I think I could have done it. But there’s no shame in falling 18 home runs short of Babe Ruth.”
Of course, besides the MVP seasons, the home run chase, all the all star games, and the world championships, Alex Rodriguez will be forever remembered as the second greatest hitter during baseball’s steroid era, behind only Barry Bonds.
Besides the suspension from the Biogenisis scandal, A-Rod admitted to using steroids from 2001 to ’03. During that three year span, Rodriguez won an MVP, two Gold Gloves, three Silver Slugger’s, and was an all star all three years.
For his career, Rodriguez will likely retire after his final game on Friday (there is still a chance he signs with a club for 2017 and makes a run at 700 home runs and Babe Ruth’s 714 career home run mark) with a career line of .295/.380/.550, 696 home runs, 3,114 hits, 2,084 rbi, 329 stolen bases, 14 all star games, three time MVP, 10 time Silver Slugger recipient, and two Gold Gloves.
All of the above numbers scream 1st ballot Hall of Famer. Unfortunately for him, and the game of baseball, the steroid scandals will keep him out of the hall, forever just a footnote in baseball lore.
Alex Rodriguez will play what will likely be his final game Friday, August 12, 2016 in front of the Yankee faithful against the Tampa Bay Rays in front of his mother, Lourdes, daughters Natasha, 11, and Ella, 8, as well as friends from Miami and all over the world flying in to New York.
Rodriguez was drafted number one overall by the Seattle Mariners in 1993. In 2000, he joined the Texas Rangers via free agency, signing (at the time) the richest contract in baseball history, 10 years, $252 million. Traded to the Yankees prior to 2004, Rodriguez exercised his opt-out clause and signed a new contract with New York for 10 years, $275 million, breaking his own record for richest contract in baseball.
In November of 2014, Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton became the first player to break Alex Rodriguez’ contract record by signing a 13-year $325 million deal.
“A lot of people are going to focus on the numbers. What I’m really happy about are the relationships I’ve been able to mend. The sad part is, it ended too quick, as it usually ends for most athletes who feel they can play forever.” – Alex Rodriguez on August 7, 2016
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