NEW YORK —
Alex Rodriguez was speaking on a conference call.
"A huge debacle,'' he said. "Distasteful.''
That was on Dec. 13, 2007, when he re-signed with the New York Yankees and was discussing his decision 1 1/2 months earlier to become a free agent.
Now those words describe how some in the team's front office feel about A-Rod's $275 million, 10-year contract.
Once considered a player who could shatter the career home run record, Rodriguez has transformed from All-Star to annoyance for some in the Yankees organization. He hasn't played a full season since he was voted his third AL MVP award in 2007, he's out for at least the first half of this year following hip surgery on Jan. 16 and now he's been accused of again receiving performance-enhancing drugs - an allegation he denies.
Even before the charges were published Tuesday by the alternative weekly Miami New Times along with accusations against Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Gio Gonzalez, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal, some Yankees executives were wishing Rodriguez would just go away. Speaking on condition of anonymity because the team isn't publicly commenting on A-Rod's latest troubles, they revealed their frustration with the slugger.
And they have a big incentive for A-Rod to disappear. If he doesn't play again due to a career-ending injury, about 85 percent of the $114 million he's owed by the team would be covered by insurance, according to one of the executives who spoke on condition of anonymity.
New York also might be able to free itself from having the $27.5 million average annual value of Rodriguez's contract count in its luxury tax payroll in each of the next five seasons, a key factor as the Yankees try to get under the $189 million threshold in 2014.
If Rodriguez is on the disabled list, his contract is included. But if he's on the voluntary retired list, it would not be part of the total.
And if the Yankees fall under that $189 million benchmark, their luxury tax rate would drop from its current 50 percent to 17.5 percent for 2015. That would give them far more flexibility to pursue pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander if they become free agents following the 2014 season.
New York is not likely to be able to void A-Rod's deal. Baseball's drug agreement between management and the players' association specifies the commissioner's office has all disciplinary authority for violations.
A-Rod's poor health, however, may provide the path to savings for the team.
While Rodriguez rebounded from right hip surgery in March 2009 to help the Yankees to their first World Series title since 2000, Dr. Bryan Kelly said recovery from his operation on A-Rod's left hip this month will be more complex if for no other reason than it receives more stress because Rodriguez is a right-handed hitter.
Even before the latest kerfuffle, A-Rod seemed to have worn out his welcome.
Yankees management tired of spotting him on the gossip pages with Madonna, Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz and Torrie Wilson. They bristled when he was seen with a stripper in Toronto, at a swingers' club in Dallas and at an illegal poker club in New York.
They made their displeasure public in 2010 when they said they never authorized Rodriguez to be treated by Dr. Anthony Galea, who said he prescribed anti-inflammatories to A-Rod following the first hip operation. Indicted in part for illegal possession of human growth hormone with intent to distribute, the Canadian doctor pleaded guilty in 2011 to one count of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with the intent to mislead a U.S. agency.
Then came last year's playoffs, when Rodriguez was benched in three of nine games and pinch hit for in three others. He flirted with girls in the stands after he was removed from the AL championship series opener against Detroit.
Rodriguez's 647 home runs are 115 shy of tying Barry Bonds' career record but he has totaled just 34 the last two seasons and his 38th birthday is in late July. He has averaged 119 games, 21 homers and 81 RBIs over the last three years.
Before and after most games, when media is allowed to enter the Yankees' clubhouse, Rodriguez spends little time at his locker in the back left of the oval room, not too far from the entrance to the inner sanctum that contains the players' lounge, steam room, sauna, rubdown room, weight room, trainer's room and swimming pool. He doesn't have one of the prestige locations flanking the back entrance, held by Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano, who took over the spot when Jorge Posada retired.
He has never been accepted by Yankees' fans the same way they adored Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada. And now, with his increasing tabloid notoriety and declining production, some of the team's executives have concluded he's more a handicap than a help as the team strives for World Series title No. 28.
NEW YORK —
Alex Rodriguez was speaking on a conference call.
Gasso trusts that Ricketts will find her timing again
Oklahoma pitcher Keilani Ricketts was not at her best on Sunday. The defending USA Softball Player of the Year didn’t give up a run in her two and two-thirds innings of work, but she was far from the dominant pitcher who tossed a no-hitter last week.
Sooners claim regular season finale with win over K-State
Oklahoma managed to end the regular season on a positive note Sunday. Kolbey Carpenter went 2 for 4 and drove in three runs to help power the Sooners to a 7-3 victory over Kansas State at Tointon Stadium.
Chamberlain's curtain call only the beginning
The chant reaching near-deafening levels, Lauren Chamberlain finally realized what she was supposed to do.
Moments after blasting a three-run home run that broke open what had been a close regional final, the sophomore tepidly stepped up out of the dugout and waved to the home crowd, enjoying the first curtain call of her career.
OU's dominant victory a shining example of how tough Sooners are in softball
On the first day Oklahoma softball coach Patty Gasso thought it was better to go with Michelle Gascoigne over Keilani Ricketts against Arkansas’ bats, the Sooners beat the Razorbacks by five runs.
A day later Gasso had the same thought. OU prevailed by 13 runs.
Cowboys fall short in Big 12 regular season finale
Oklahoma State University played catch up the entire game of Saturday’s series finale with West Virginia at Allie P. Reynolds, and never could quite get over the hump.
The Cowboys would respond after each Mountaineer score but it wouldn’t be enough as they lost the finale 5-4 on Senior Day.
Referees stop Lake Eufaula Classic with South on top
It was an outcome unlike any in the 29 years of the Lake Eufaula Classic, and a bruise different than any player has ever departed with.
Officials, following the second serious skirmish of the game, walked off the field and the game was called, the South leading the North 12-10 at Paul Bell Stadium.
Grand Junction Bound: Connors State advances to JUCO World Series
All season long, Connors State coach Perry Keith has said his team was winning a lot of ball games ugly.
On Saturday, the game between the Cowboys and No. 1 Delgado (La.) was anything but as Connors beat the Dolphins 3-1 to capture the South Central district championship and a berth in next week’s NJCAA College World Series.
Young Americans waste no time qualifying for Indy 500
Bump Day at Indianapolis followed the script.
No surprises, no drama and no drivers getting bumped.
On a day devoid of tension and rumors, all nine drivers who made attempts on the second and final day of Indianapolis 500 qualifications made it into the 33-car field, led by two young Americans - Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal - who easily had the two fastest cars on the track.
NCAA WOMEN'S BB: Texas Tech hires OSU assistant Candi Whitaker
Texas Tech has hired Oklahoma State assistant Candi Whitaker to coach its women's basketball team.
The school announced Monday that the former Lady Raiders player would return to her alma mater as coach. The move comes about a week after Kristy Curry left for Alabama.
Pacers, Heat start bracing to square off again
A year ago when Miami and Indiana faced off in the postseason, there were blood-drawing hits, flagrant fouls, technical fouls, choke signs being directed toward LeBron James and more than a few sharp-tongued comments.
Here they possibly go again, at least on the comment front.
The Eastern Conference finals between the Heat and Pacers won't begin until Wednesday night, but there's already signs that the animosity present throughout last season's Miami-Indiana second-round series will likely return this time around.
- More Sports Headlines
- Gasso trusts that Ricketts will find her timing again