The Yankees are clueless

A Rod 13

Since Sunday’s announcement that Alex Rodriguez would be “retiring” on Friday night against the Rays, the consensus is that the Yankees should let him play and go out the right way. That’s not what’s happening.

Instead, we get this cheesy reveal that A-Rod will only play two more games. The final one at storied Fenway Park against the Red Sox Thursday and then the final home game at The Stadium Friday.

For a diehard baseball fan who’s followed this team since the mid-80’s rooting for Don Mattingly, it just isn’t ideal. Basically, Hal Steinbrenner told Rodriguez this is it. Then he can pack his bags and go home to Miami after Friday’s sendoff in the Bronx.

What a farce. While they will let the equally anemic Mark Teixeira play out the year as he continues to fail in big situations such as leaving the bases loaded with two out in a annoying 5-3 loss to the hated Red Sox, Rodriguez is pushed out the door intentionally.

Seeing the knowledgeable Sahhhxxx fans at Fenway chant, “We Want A-Rod” in the ninth as the Yanks rallied off overrated closer Craig Kimbrel with four walks and without a hit cutting it to two runs, clueless manager Joe Girardi sent Teixeira up against Matt Barnes. He was playing the percentage.

Anyone with a pulse knew Teixeira has been the opposite of clutch. He’s 36 and age and injuries have caught up to him. No shame there. As the Yanks rallied, the chants continued for A-Rod. Instead, he sat on the top of the dugout with teammates and shared a chuckle. Obviously enjoying the fandom.

Maybe Boston fans realize what this is is about. Too bad Yankee management is clueless. They prefer to let A-Rod play two games and then poof. What’s the harm in playing him in say four games and at least taking a swing at 700? Sure. It’s about as realistic as me scoring a date with Erin Heatherton. But at least he could go out swinging.

That Teixeira would keep the bat on the shoulder and watch a Barnes’ heater hit the outside corner on a 2-2 count summed up a season’s frustration. This team just doesn’t get it. They have to hold a grudge on a player who helped them win their only world championship since 2000. You know. The 27th in franchise history in which Rodriguez ripped five of his six home runs against the Twins and Angels while driving in 18 with the Yanks prevailing in six over the Phillies in the World Series.

It’s a travesty. A-Rod has made so much money for the Yankees, it’s sad. Sure. There have been eye rolling moments with controversy surrounding his admission to taking steroids between ’01-03 following that awful leak by that joke of a government to Sports Illustrated. Then the PED scandal prior to ’09 that was revealed later leading to a full 162-game suspension in 2014.

But then Rodriguez made a successful comeback slugging a team-leading 33 dingers and knocking in 86 with a .250 batting average to get the club into the playoffs. They lost the wildcard against Houston. But without his contribution and Teixeira’s, there’s no October home gate for the Dumb and Dumber tandem of Hal and that no good clown Randy Levine.

Even Girardi and Brian Cashman are in on it. If it were up to me, I’d fire them all. Sure. They finally woke up and did the right thing going with a much needed youth movement. Cashman did quite well picking up top prospects Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield and Gleyber Torres for the combination of closers Aroldis Chapman (Cubs) and Andrew Miller (Indians).

All it took was a humiliation at the hands of the lowly Rays that finally made the two bozos that run the organization to realize the postseason wasn’t realistic. How sad. Especially Levine, who defiantly said they wouldn’t sell a month ago. How this joker still has a job is beyond comprehension. I would send him a one-way ticket to Siberia. He’s everything wrong with sports. Clueless. Unnecessary.

When you have Red Sox fans acknowledging the moment with the 41-year old Rodriguez even with Kimbrel failing to get the save, it speaks volumes. Say what you will about their idiotic players who danced after Teixeira took a called strike three. Say what you will about how biased the media is when it comes to David “Big Papi” Ortiz, who hasn’t been as controversial despite the reveal that he was also on the list of 104 players who used performance enhancers. He gets to go out on his own terms and has had a very curious productive year at 40. You hope it’s clean.

One thing about the Red Sox fans is their passion. They get the rivalry with the Yankees. They know this is it for A-Rod. A player their team was very close to acquiring before Major League Baseball and particularly the MLBPA rejected it. They know the lightning rod has been a huge part of The Rivalry. He isn’t favorite rivals Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera. However, he still is an all-time great even if you wonder how many of the 696 home runs were accomplished without the assistance of juice.

The Red Sox need every game. They’re locked in a three-team battle with the Orioles and Blue Jays with the AL East and wildcard at stake. That’s why John Farrell wisely pulled a wild Kimbrel for Barnes, who got the job done against Teixeira.

When you have the home crowd wanting to see A-Rod pinch-hit, it tells a different story. They understand it’s the end for him. All he gets is two games. Will he even be available for pinch-hitting duty tomorrow? At this point, you may as well believe in the tooth fairy.

So, it will end in three days. Just not how it should. All due to the clowns that run a once proud franchise that badly needs change at the top as much as on the field. Only we won’t get it. Remember that if they fail in the future.

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Yankees force A-Rod into retirement

A-Rod

When the news conference started at 11 AM earlier today, Alex Rodriguez took his medicine well. Forced by the Yankees organization to give up a kid’s sport he loved, the former three-time American League Most Valuable Player agreed to a new role following the season.  His final game will be this Friday, Aug. 12 against the Tampa Rays at Yankee Stadium.

The announcement that the Yankees will be releasing A-Rod following Friday’s game comes as no surprise. The writing was on the wall. With manager Joe Girardi refusing to even play him against lefties, it was painfully obvious that his days were numbered. It still comes off bad that they won’t even let the 41-year old slugger finish the season. What’s the difference between Mark Teixeira retiring after the season and Rodriguez being forced out? Judge for yourself:

Teixeira 80 GP 280 AB .200 BA 10 HR 28 RBI  .631 OPS

Rodriguez 62 GP 216 AB .204 BA 9 HR 29 RBI .609 OPS

Not surprisingly, the production is basically the same. Both aging veterans are at the end of the line. The only difference being is that Teixeira still plays a solid first base defensively while Rodriguez is only a designated hitter. The other notable is Teixeira is finishing out an eight-year contract while Rodriguez still is owed $27 million for the remainder of 2016 and 2017. The Yanks have agreed to pay him in full.

Rodriguez’ role will change for 2017. He will be cast a special adviser and instructor next season. An interesting title considering his experience on and off the field. Four home runs shy of 700, he’s decided to give up the chase to become only the fourth major league player to ever hit that milestone. A feat accomplished by Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762).

“No athlete ever ends his career, or her career, the way you want to,” an emotional Rodriguez told a packed media room while shedding tears. “We all want to keep playing, but it doesn’t work that way. Accepting the end gracefully is part of being a professional athlete. Saying goodbye may be the hardest part of the job, but that’s what I’m doing today.”

The sad aspect is this is the same controversial player who had a successful return after missing the entire 2014 season due to a suspension for his role in the Biogenesis performance enhancers scandal. Astonishingly, Rodriguez led the Yankees with 33 homers and drove in 86 runs to help lead the team to the wildcard. Ironically, Teixeira was also a key contributor with 31 dingers in 111 games before his season was cut short. A year later, they’re both done.

Of course, A-Rod is the same player who filed a lawsuit against the Yankees for withholding information on a hip injury back in 2012. He also tried to sue to the Player’s Association over losing his entire 2014. He admitted that he used steroids between 2001-03 due to a Sports Illustrated story prior to the ’09 season. His name was one of 104 players which was leaked to SI. Most of the list was concealed by the government. How curious that Rodriguez’ name was leaked. Strange coincidence. Hardly. He was targeted by Major League Baseball.

In sharp contrast, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has not had his name smeared despite also being on the list. Big Papi is playing out his final season with overwhelming support from hypocritical ESPN and fans. He is more revered. Probably due to his calm demeanor. But still, it is a bit ridiculous that his farewell tour is universally celebrated. As great a player as he’s been for Boston helping lead them to three world championships, he too took illegal substances. That came before he became a big star.

If we are going to hold every baseball cheat accountable, then there shouldn’t be a double standard. The bottom line is many well known stars used PED’s. That included Bonds, who passed Mark McGwire’s single season record of 70 with 73. Of course, McGwire also cheated as did Sammy Sosa when they raced each other in 1998 with McGwire out-slugging Sosa 70-66 with both surpassing Roger Maris’ 61 set in 1961.

The real culprit was former commissioner Bud Selig. He turned a blind eye to rampant steroid use following the return of baseball in ’95. The 1994 strike shortened season hurt its relationship with fans. A potential memorable season ended due to Donald Fehr. A year where Matt Williams and Ken Griffey, Jr. were chasing history. Williams led the majors with 43 home runs and Griffey was at 40. Tony Gwynn also was seeking to become the first player since Ted Williams to hit .400. The former Padres’ all-time great led the majors with a .394 batting average when the season was canceled.

With baseball back in a big way by the mid-90’s, they ran a successful campaign of Chicks Dig The Long Ball. The home run was never more popular. Everyone loved it including the media who fed into the Summer of ’98. The same journalists who praised McGwire and Sosa with great press and even selling books turned on them once the BALCO scandal was revealed in 2002. Other big names included Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmiero, whose defiant testimony before Congress that he “had never used steroids” was caught red handed. The scandal also took down American gold medalist track and field athlete Marion Jones.

Maybe if they had been paying closer attention, none of this would’ve happened. The point being is that A-Rod is far from the only guilty person who used performance enhancers during a memorable and controversial 22-year career. His 696 home runs rank fourth all-time. His 2,084 RBI’s are third trailing only Ruth and Aaron.

As for his thoughts on concluding his career this way, “It was the Yankee’s decision, and I’m at peace with it,” he said. “I thought I would have a strong finish and a strong year next year, but again, that wasn’t in the cards.”

Rodriguez is a 14-time All-Star who won 10 Silver Sluggers. As bad as he handled the first part of his Yankees career is how well he’s handled the final chapter. He’s been professional and respectful to his team, teammates and fans. He’s gone out of his way to sign bats for sick children and give back to the community. While he’s handled this with class, the same cannot be said for the Yankees.

Can you imagine George Steinbrenner doing this to a accomplished player who brought in so much revenue for the team and new ballpark? They don’t win a 27th World Series without Rodriguez’ six home runs and 18 RBI’s. Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine remain dark shadows that linger despite the organization’s youth movement.

It should’ve been handled differently. What would have been wrong with letting him play out the year and then releasing him? Rodriguez has been credited by Didi Gregorius for his offensive improvement. Ironically, Gregorius hit a home run on his own Bobblehead Day. He’s been the Yanks’ best position player. Gregorius has 13 homers and 49 RBI’s with a .288 average.

Rodriguez’ positive influence on young players can’t be overstated. He knows the game and what it takes to become a successful hitter. Love or hate him, he’s had a great Yankee career. Of his 696 career home runs, 351 have come in Pinstripes. That included the most homers in a single season by a right-handed hitter when he slugged 54 to go with 156 RBI’s during ’07 for his third and final AL MVP.

When it officially ends, it’ll be awkward. That was created by the Yankees. You do wonder if in two years, Rodriguez will consider a comeback and try to reach 700. Only time shall tell.

Random Thoughts: Yankees, Mets and Baseball

AL MVP front runner Josh Donaldson has carried the Blue Jays to the top of the AL East. news.nationalpost.com Associated Press/Getty Images

I’m bringing back Random Thoughts. It originated from Hitting Back. That is the old blog run off NYSportsDay. Today’s theme is the Yankees, Mets and baseball. So let’s get to it.

1.It’s nice to have two good teams in this town. Baseball hasn’t been kind to New York City the past couple of years. The Yankees spoiled us for two decades. The playoffs are no longer a lock. Competition has gotten better shifting to small markets who are run well such as the Royals and Pirates. Both of who will again be heard from this October. The Astros appear to be on the verge of winning the AL West and joining the fracas. The Blue Jays were big buyers at the deadline and have vaulted into first in the AL East. Toronto hasn’t seen a winner since 1993. The Cubs are good again. The Mets are back. It makes for what should be a compelling October.

2.When they don’t hit the ball out, the Bronx Bombers remain too one dimensional. With Mark Teixeira banged up and A-Rod showing his age, the offense has been non-existent. The only player hitting is Carlos Beltran. Healthier, he’s had a good second half. Brian McCann has been better in Year 2. The issue is that you can’t rely on the home run. That’s always been my one criticism of Joe Girardi. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner haven’t been utilized enough. Their speed isn’t used due to all too predictable station to station baseball that doesn’t win in October assuming the Yanks make it.

3.Ever since Wilmer Flores cried after thinking he was traded, everything has gone right for the Mets. Not only did Sandy Alderson turn down a trade that would’ve sent Flores and Zach Wheeler to Milwaukee for Carlos Gomez. But he then turned around and dealt for slugger Yoenis Cespedes. He’s been brilliant since hitting over 300 with seven dingers and 20 RBI’s in 22 games highlighted by the three-homer seven RBI game against the Rockies in that joke of a stadium. Flores has hit blasting a pair of homers in a record setting win over the Phillies in which the Amazin’s set a team record with eight dingers. Suddenly scoring runs, they have a healthy five and a half game lead over the overrated Nationals. Unlike what Jayson Werth said, it’s the Mets division to lose.

4.The Amazin’ summer has fans excited about their team for the first time in nearly a decade. With a pair of aces in Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, they have the pitching that makes them a serious contender. Rookie Noah Syndergaard is still learning and finally won a road game. Jon Niese has been better in the second half. The bullpen is better since the acquisition of Tyler Clippard who has set up for closer Jeurys Familia. It’s them, the Cubs and Pirates who are the teams to watch this Fall.

5.No disrespect to the Cardinals who continue to win games like a daily ritual. They lead the majors with a 80-45 record. Michael Wacha has developed into a ace that’s not talked about. Matt Carpenter remains a constant and youngsters Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty are players to watch. Even without ace Adam Wainwright and first base slugger Matt Adams, St. Louis is again here. It’s amazing. You can’t kill them. Just imagine if the Mets have to go through them like 2006. The Cardinals are The Terminators of baseball.

6.I like what I’ve seen from Greg Bird and Luis Severino so far. Good on Brian Cashman for not parting with either or Aaron Judge for rentals. It would’ve been a mistake to trade Jorge Mateo, who has 81 stolen bases in his first full pro season in Single A. Indeed, there is a bright future in the Bronx.

7.Just about every day, Josh Donaldson is hitting the ball out or driving in big runs for the Jays. With a higher average, more home runs and a major league leading 100 RBI’s, that’s your AL MVP.

8.Mike Trout is fantastic. But if he wins MVP, it would be a crime. The Angels aren’t even in the playoffs. Trout is the best player in the game. Forget his bat. It’s all about his defense which is on display nightly.

9.Dallas Keuchel should win AL Cy Young. If you’ve never heard of him, shame on you. That said, I still believe Chris Sale got robbed last year. If he pitched on a good team, he’d have won one already.

10.One of my pet peeves is when outfielders throw home when they have no chance of nailing the runner. How many times do we have to see fundamentally poor defense which allows hitters to take the extra base?

11.Regarding Larry Bowa’s blowup at plate umpire Dan Bellino for Mets reliever Hansel Robles quick pitching Darin Ruf, he’s right. By rule, the quick pitch is allowed. But pitchers should give batters time to get set. The new rules so favor pitchers that they’re taking advantage. Jeff Francoeur explained it perfectly:

“Let the guy get in the box.” “My whole thing is ‘Give the guy time to get in the box and then pitch.'” He cited Familia who did it exactly “like he was supposed to but he gave guys time to be set and then he went.”

12.As for Bowa going off on Daniel Murphy for the bat flip, it’s something we see too much of. Whether it’s batters celebrating home runs or guys such as Carlos Gomez showing frustration when their team is up big, it’s easy to see why opponents get riled up. Though the Post’s Joel Sherman is right when he says do something about it on the scoreboard. I just don’t like showing up the opposition. But that’s what it’s become. It’s not changing.

13.The Yanks picked quite a time to have a dreadful home stand.

14.Kris Bryant is now the front runner for NL Rookie Of The Year. With a two homer game and some heroics at Wrigley Field, he’s been as advertised. The young third baseman is a stud who’ll be a superstar. It should be fun to see how he performs on the big stage.

15.I was wrong about Jon Lester. He and Jake Arrieta have teamed to form a great 1-2 punch at the top of the Cubs rotation. Speaking of Arrieta, he’s 5-0 in August with an ERA below 0.60. You think the Orioles want a do over?

16.As good as the NL is, it also has some of the worst teams. The Rockies, Phillies, Marlins and Reds are punching bags. At least in the AL, doormats Oakland and Cleveland are competitive. Even Boston is with their lineup featuring future star Mookie Betts.

17.Kinda sad about Hanley Ramirez already being moved to first base after the failed outfield experiment. He went from an All-Star shortstop to a player without a position pretty quickly. He is one of the most talented players but now the Red Sox paid him all that money and don’t know where to play him. Jeez.

18.Remember when Joc Pederson was a lock for NL ROY? I regret trading for him. I could care less about his OBP when he can’t hit and doesn’t play versus lefties.

19.Only in this era can one dimensional sluggers last. There are way too many Rob Deers. It would be nice if more players could hit for average and get more credit for being a professional hitter. Remember when doubles were king and Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn were hitting for ridiculous averages? What about the days of the stolen base when Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman tore up the base paths. That is missed.

20.If only Paul Goldschmidt didn’t play in obscurity with Arizona. He’s hitting .330 with 24 homers, 93 RBI’s and 20 stolen bases. The 27-year old is an old school superstar who deserves more recognition.

21.Unless something changes, it’ll be two consecutive years a Dodger pitcher sweeps the Cy Young and MVP. Zach Greinke is 13-3 with a major league best 1.67 ERA. None of the MVP candidates have stood out. Bryce Harper and Buster Posey are probably the best hitters but it looks like their teams will miss the postseason. The aforementioned Goldschmidt won’t get it. Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez play for the Rockies. Former MVP Andrew McCutchen is the best player on the Pirates. But .299-19-81 with 72 runs scored doesn’t scream MVP. I love him as a player though and maybe this is the year he carries Pittsburgh.

22.It’s ridiculous that three teams from the NL Central will make the playoffs and two will play in a one-game elimination with better records than division winners. Change the rule!

23.Does anyone think the Dodgers will do anything this October? I don’t see it. Not unless Clayton Kershaw brings it and Yasiel Puig proves he’s not overrated. Think LA doesn’t miss Matt Kemp?

24.Two of my favorite players are Dee Gordon and Jose Altuve. Two elite second basemen who can hit, run and field. They play the game the right way.

25.Robinson Cano isn’t having a great year but did make history by becoming the first player to hit 30 doubles in each of his first 11 seasons. It’s not working out the way he envisioned so far in Seattle. At 32, his numbers are down. Even with a strong second half, he’ll probably wind up just shy of .300 with 20 homers and 90 RBI’s. Are his best seasons behind him? If so, Seattle paid an awful lot for a fading star. With 30 more hits, Cano will reach 2000. He turns 33 on October 22. Can he reach 3000?

26.Who is Michael Pineda? That’s what more Yankee fans need to be asking.

27.C.C. Sabathia is probably done for the season. He tried hard and pitched better recently. But in his mid-30’s with a lot of weight, injuries and inconsistency will continue for the former Yankee ace. He’s had a great career. But let’s face it. It’s been over for some time. Time for the Yankee organization to face the facts. Sabathia will always have that world championship.

28.Was there better theater than David Wright hitting the first pitch he saw into the left field upper deck after returning?

29.Delino Deshields, Jr. is a good player for the Rangers. The son of former Expo Delino Deshields, he doesn’t get much ink. But like Dad, he brings speed to the top of the Texas order. He’s stolen 22 bases and has seven triples. Given up on by the Astros, it looks like Deshields, Jr. has found a home. Playing center field for the other team in Texas, he might even get a chance to face Houston in the postseason. Pretty cool story.

30.Final thought. Andy Pettite and Jorge Posada were two important Yankees. Part of the Core Four, they were an integral part of great teams that won world championships. Neither was great. I’d put each in the very good category. It’s not their fault that the Yankees retired their numbers. So don’t blame them. Put it where it belongs on the organization who did it for the fanfare. Let’s face it. Sports are a big business. Drawing is part of it. Retiring their numbers guaranteed that. They became the 20th and 21st Yankees to have their number retired. Derek Jeter will become the 22nd. The only difference is he was great and is a Hall Of Fame lock. Retiring numbers should be reserved for legends. Especially when it comes to the Yankees. Case closed.