It’s fitting in a way that Alex Rodriguez is playing in his final game in pinstripes tonight versus the Boston Red Sox. An injury to Aaron Boone and and an MLB denial of a trade to Boston in 2004 opened the doors for his arrival in the Bronx.
The best player with the largest contract in history did not bring good fortune at first. In fact, many in Boston credit him for the first incident which signaled the beginning of the end of the curse of the Bambino. Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek shoved the ball in Rodriguez face to ignite a scuffle that seemed to turn the fortunes of these two franchises in reverse.
It was confirmed when the Yankees blew a 3-0 lead in the 2004 ALCS to the Red Sox, the only time outside of two hockey series this ever occured. The image of Alex slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove as he tried to tag him in a rundown to first in game six symbolizing the perspective many had of him as being far from honorable and devoid of respect, a polar opposite of what the Yankees were during the 1996-2003 period. He was never going to be Derek Jeter.
The next three years saw two MVP seasons but also three consecutive first-round eliminations. The Yankee’s failure to qualify for the post-season in 2008 snapped an 18-year run.
But the opening of a new Yankee Stadium and relaxed attitude by Alex forged a championship in 2009 which pretty much justified the tons of money invested in him. It was his shining moment as he produced his best playoff performance while willing the Yankees to the holy grail, his first and only championship.
Though the Yankees stayed in contention for the next three years the news of Alex Rodriguez steriod use dulled the New York fans enthusiasm about Alex chasing the home run record held by Barry Bonds. The ensuing years saw a dramatic reduction in performance, injuries, and a suspension from baseball.
In 2015, Rodriguez had a renaissance season that contributed to the Yankees leading the AL East for most of the year but New York settled for the Wild Card game in which they lost to Houston.
As A-Rod plays in Fenway Park and baseball for the last time, the Yankees are amazingly 3 1/2 games ut of Wild-Card position after unloading several veterans for prospects this month. Rodriguez requested to play third, a place he has not seen often in the past two years as he has been relagated to part-time DH. It’s quite a reversal from the glorious throne he held in 2004. It will be saying a lot that it may come and go without much fanfare.
As Brian Cashman summarized in the retirement announcement, the 2009 ring is the only thing that allows the acquiring of Alex Rodriguez to not be placed as the most expensive bust in baseball history.