COMMENTARY | New York Yankees albatross Alex Rodriguez seems prepared for a high stakes battle over his baseball future and personal fortune. He's got a high-priced lawyer and a high-priced public relations firm and doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
For the first time in… well… forever, I miss George Steinbrenner.
What would George do?
Not the frail, aging George, but the George with the Trump-before-it-was-Trump hair, the turtleneck, and fiery personality.
Sure, George could attempt to buy out the remaining years on A-Rod's contract, but why would A-Rod simply accept? And why would George simply give in?
George could endear himself to Yankees fans and try to void A-Rod's contract, but that move seems destined to fail, as A-Rod's future - at least as it relates to using performance-enhancing drugs - is in Commissioner Bud Selig's hands.
George liked a fight as much as he liked stealing the back pages from the New York Mets. If he was around, I think he'd make A-Rod an offer he couldn't refuse.
Howie Spira is out of prison, but he and George didn't exactly end their relationship on good terms. Nevertheless, I can't see why George couldn't dredge up dirt on his most overpaid player as he tried to do with Dave Winfield. The team must know more about A-Rod's dealing than what they read in the gossip pages, which have reported on everything from A-Rod's affinity for strippers, his appearance at a Dallas swinger's club, and his playing at high stakes Beverly Hills poker games.
Also, if George were around, I don't think there'd be "anonymous Yankees executives" quoted in sports columns or "Yankees insiders" floating whispers about the team trying to void A-Rod's deal. I think George would be on the back pages every day talking smack about Rodriguez, Rodriguez's lawyer, Rodriguez's spending, Rodriguez's drug mule cousin, and just about anything Rodriguez-related.
If George were around, I don't think he lets Rodriguez ever wear a Yankees uniform again.
Rather than having his former star third baseman issuing stern denials about ever being associated with an "anti-aging clinic" in Miami, George would make it his business to ensure that Rodriguez announces that the pain from recovering from hip surgery is too great; that it's time to retire. Yankees fans everywhere would rejoice, tens of millions of dollars in team salary would free up, and George would hold an A-Rod Day at Yankee Stadium. Since it's George, he'd probably retire Rodriguez's number 13 jersey too. (It's not like anyone else wants to soon be associated with it anyway.)
Until then, I can't help but wonder: What would George do?
Howard Z. Unger is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, New York. For the past 15 years, he has written about sports, media, and popular culture. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, New York Post, and New York Times.