ESPNNewYork.com reported Wednesday that a joking conversation between New York Yankees president Randy Levine and Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria could turn into serious talks between the franchises. The subject of that joke/trade discussion is none other than embattled Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has had some bad postseasons over the course of his Yankee career, which began in 2004 when he was acquired in a trade from the Texas Rangers. But none have been as tumultuous as the 2012 playoffs. Rodriguez is hitting .130 (3-for-23) in the postseason, including an ugly 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitchers. He has been pinch-hit for and benched in these playoffs. He was even involved in a ruckus over whether or not he asked for a couple of telephone numbers from a pair of lady fans while not playing in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday.
If these are Rodriguez's last days in pinstripes, it's not ending well.
Rodriguez wasn't scheduled to play in Game 4 of the ALCS Wednesday, Oct. 17, in Detroit, but the game was rained out and is scheduled to be played Thursday, Oct. 18. With no change in the pitching matchup, it is unlikely Rodriguez will get a last-second reprieve from another benching.
The illusion, however, is that the truly great ones leave the stage with dignity, that they know when it's time to go. But for every Roger Staubach retiring from the Dallas Cowboys, there are dozens of other exits by superstars that are not nearly as dignified.
Willie Mays was traded by the San Francisco Giants to the New York Mets in May 1972 after a week-long drama played out in the press over the details of the deal. His career as a Met ended in the 1973 World Series with the unforgettable images of him falling down in the outfield, 19 years removed from his iconic World Series moment. In the 1954 World Series, Mays made a remarkable catch and throw in center field at the Polo Grounds on a long drive by Cleveland Indian hitter Vic Wertz (click here for video).
Johnny Unitas was a legend as quarterback of the Baltimore Colts. He held most of the major career passing records in National Football League history and was a Colt for 17 years, winning two NFL championships and a Super Bowl. But in January 1973, Unitas was traded to the San Diego Chargers for next to nothing, "unspecified future considerations." Unitas was the starter for the Chargers to begin the 1973 season but was replaced by rookie Dan Fouts at midseason and was ingloriously inactive for San Diego's final game that season. He retired during training camp the following summer.
Even one of the greatest Yankees of them all, Babe Ruth, had a messy divorce from the organization. In February 1935, Ruth was released by the Yankees and signed with the Boston Braves. His 28-game stint with the Braves was far from legendary. He hit .181 in 28 games but did have one glorious day when he turned back the clock to hit three homers against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the final three homers of his career.
So if Alex Rodriguez is truly at the end of his days as a Yankee, he could at least take some solace that he isn't the first superstar athlete to have a messy falling out with a team. And he won't be the last, either.
Phil Watson was a writer and editor for several daily newspapers for more than 20 years and is a longtime New York Yankee fan.
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