Less than 12 hours from now –– 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016 –– Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez will not be a New York Yankee anymore. Less than 12 hours from then, Paul Olden will not be calling, “The designated hitter, No. 13, Alex Rodriguez, No. 13,” over the PA system. Less than 12 hours, and a Yankees era will be over, forever.
There has been a quite a bit of drama since June 1 between Rodriguez and the Yankees. First, they benched him against all right-handed pitchers and reduced him to a platoon role. Carlos Beltran was a better DH than outfielder at this stage in his career and not playing the field made the veteran outfielder a better hitter.
Now, Beltran is in Texas and the Yankees have Rodriguez riding the pine on a regular basis. After the press conference for Mark Teixeira a week from yesterday, Rodriguez had his own on Sunday to the mass media, announcing a deal made between he and Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner to have Rodriguez released from his contract and moved into an advisory role under Steinbrenner.
The real drama has been in the last couple days, though. Manager Joe Girardi, sick of the media, has been lashing out at the constant questions about Rodriguez, even admitting that he let the emotions of Sunday get in his brain about playing his designated hitter. It almost makes you wonder what Girardi thinks of Rodriguez right now, because clearly Girardi is bothered. Other statements by Girardi include that he’s not paid to run a retirement tour, which did not stop him in 2014 to bat Derek Jeter second in the lineup in 141 games, both at shortstop and at designated hitter, when he was clearly not a number two hitter anymore.
If you are going to backtrack, Girardi might want to explain his reasons for hypocrisy. He has also stated that he’s managing the team to win, and for what reason does Rodriguez not provide at least a non-zero chance of helping that?
Rants about upset managers aside, the moonlight over Friday night’s game will be shadowed by tears of the fans who really loved Rodriguez. We already know that A-Rod and Girardi discussed playing third base on Friday, and Joe said no. The dugout and the audience are going to be two different places on Friday. One will be crying, the other will be pouting.
Anyway, losing Rodriguez is going to end an era in Yankees baseball. From the day the deal with the Red Sox collapsed because of salary relief, Rodriguez has been a Yankee legend. Through his 2004 and 2007 MVP campaigns, to his performance in 2009 toward the championship.
His 2015 season was one of epic proportions, and while 2016 has not fared as well as he would’ve imagined, the Yankees fans still love him and thanks to the drama in the last 168 hours, love more than ever. If he ever comes to Old Timers Day, you know he’ll be adored more than ever. If there is anything we’ve learned in the last week is that Girardi is going to come out on the other side of this with a damaged reputation. Steinbrenner and general Brian Cashman seemed to show their problems are over with Rodriguez, but Joe is upset. Fans now feel bad for Rodriguez because Girardi has treated him so badly.
That said, what should happen to the number 13 that Rodriguez has worn since 2004? A lot of people want to have it given to Aaron Judge or to Manny Machado, assuming he ends up in pinstripes after signing as a free agent following the 2018 season.
However, Steinbrenner has mentioned that putting Rodriguez in Monument Park, where he belongs, is not out of the question. We already know that he is the best number 13 in Yankees history, and while those complain that they are going to have too many retired numbers, they should at least open the door for Rodriguez. If Tino Martinez gets a plaque, then Rodriguez and his 12 years and 351 home runs as a Yankee should earn him a retired number. However, that could be a long time. Until then, Friday will be a long sunset for the Yankee legend.