Shortly after SI.com’s Jon Heyman spilled the beans that Alex Rodriguez would opt out of his final three years under contract to the Yankees, the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman hailed “the brazen magnificence” of A-Rod’s announcement (“Rodriguez was never able to convince some that he was bigger than Derek Jeter. Now he’s made himself bigger than baseball”)
During the World Series, no one, according to both formal and informal baseball law, is supposed to make any real news. The commissioner’s office in the past has exhorted teams to keep quiet about managerial hirings and firings and contract negotiations during the Series, so as to focus the attention of the world on the seven games that are supposed to represent the sport at its best. To announce such a thing during the last innings of a decisive World Series game, thus upstaging the crucial moment toward which the entire season builds, is a calculated affront to all the game’s proprieties and ideas of order.
Here, though, comes Alex Rodriguez to remind everyone that professional sports are about money and utter crass power. The pure cynicism of Rodriguez’s ploy does so much to expose the sham pieties of the men who promote baseball that it should be applauded for that alone. Being so forcibly reminded that baseball is about money and power doesn’t, after all, diminish our ability to appreciate it as a sport one bit. To go along with the pretense that it does, to pretend that Rodriguez’s contract isn’t at least as important as Aaron Cook’s noble defeat, would be absurd. Credit to Rodriguez for being shameless and showing baseball for what it really is.