On Friday night, New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez smacked the 660th home run of his controversial career against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park.
The home run ties Rodriguez with legendary San Francisco Giants outfielder Willie Mays for fourth all-time. The Yankees slugger opened a whole new can of worms with that home run, though.
A clause in Rodriguez’s contract states he is due a six million dollar bonus for this milestone, but because of Rodriguez’s shady past, the Yankees are refusing to pay him.
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General Manager Brian Cashman came out publicly over the weekend saying the team will not pay Rodriguez the bonus:
"We have the right, but not the obligation to do something, and that's it," Cashman said. ‘We're going to honor our responsibilities of the contract...so there is no dispute, from our perspective.”
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Rodriguez so far has taken the high road and not responded to Cashman’s comments. While Rodriguez did deceive the team about his drug use when he signed his mega deal during the 2007 offseason, the Yankees are doing the impossible by making him sympathetic.
The bonus was put into Rodriguez’s deal when he signed the 10-year $275 million contract extension prior to the 2008 season, the richest contract ever in baseball at the time, back when it was believed he was going to be the antithesis of San Francisco Giants star outfielder and all-time home run leader Barry Bonds.
Rodriguez was supposedly going to be the “clean” all-time home run king. Before the 2009 season a report in Sports Illustrated came out saying Rodriguez had previously failed two drug tests back in 2003 as a member of the Texas Rangers. A-Rod initially denied the claim, but came clean in a now infamous 2009 60 Minutes interview with Katie Couric.
In 2013 Rodriguez was connected to the anti-ageing clinic Biogenesis in Miami along with nine other major league players, and five minor leaguers.
Each player was suspended with Rodriguez getting the longest, losing the entire 2014 season. Here is where the problems begin.
The Yankees claim they are upset because Rodriguez lost his marketability with this drug related suspension. It seems hypocritical for the team to refuse to honor Rodriguez while former pitcher Andy Pettitte, who had his own run ins with performance enhancing drugs, will have his number retired later this summer by the Yankees.
Since Derek Jeter retired at the end of last season, the Yankees are looking for a big name to hitch their wagon.
The Yankees have ignored the milestone with the hopes that it will simply go away. In their press releases discussing upcoming milestones, there was zero mention of the home run chase. The logic from the Yankees appears to be if they ignore it, they won’t have to pay.
In order to get the milestone home run ball, Rodriguez might have to pay a really heavy price. The fan that caught the ball has refused to give it up. The Red Sox offered up signed David Ortiz memorabilia, against Ortiz’s wishes, for the ball but the fan has refused, insisting that he’ll blow the ball up.
Rodriguez normally is viewed as the villain in any situation. But here the Yankees come across as the bad guys.
Despite Rodriguez’s very chequered past with performance enhancing drugs, the Yankees should recognize the feat, pay Rodriguez his money and get on with it. The Yankees are first in the AL East and owe a lot of their success this season to Rodriguez.
The slugger is currently second on the team in home runs with six, third in RBIs with 14, and fourth in OPS with an .841 mark.
Even Willie Mays has congratulated Rodriguez on the accomplishment. Like Willie Mays I think the Yankees should just celebrate Rodriguez’s achievement by paying him what he is contractually owed.
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