The chase for the mark set by his father’s baseball idol, Willie Mays, of 660 home runs is finally over. It ended for New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, breaking a 2-2 tie in the 8th inning as a pinch-hitter to give the Yankees the lead and the win over the Red Sox 3-2. The victorious blast comes with great honor for the often-dishonored Rodriguez, as well as an interesting subplot that may linger throughout the season. Alex Rodriguez may have reached the home run mark, but he stands to lose a big reward.
Alex Rodriguez has a clause in his contract whereby when he will receive $6 million as a bonus for reaching Willie Mays’ mark of 660 home runs. The fine print is the question, as it is understood that the bonus is in the contract, among others for reaching marks by Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds. The question is how conditional that bonus is. As the admitted PED use by Alex Rodriguez has tarnished his name and image; the value of reaching that total has been largely nullified. What does it mean for the Yankees now? It is not a marketing bonanza it was once thought to be, so it is being contested by the New York Yankees management.
“We have the right but not the obligation to do something, and that’s it,” said Yankee GM Brian Cashman the day after the home run. “We’re going to follow the contract as we follow all contracts, so there is no dispute, from our perspective.We’re going to honor our responsibilities of the contract. (But) How it’s been reported and what the contract actually says are two different things. It’s not “you do this, you get that.” It’s completely different. It’s not all of a sudden; we’re choosing not to do something. If we choose to pursue something, we’ll choose to pursue it. If we choose not to, it’s our right not to. In both cases, we’re honoring the contract.”
Alex Rodriguez reaching the home run mark set by Willie Mays made him very emotional in post-game interviews, and not for potentially losing out on the big financial reward. His father loved Willie Mays, and it caused him to become very circumspect about his career, his family, and his work over almost twenty years in the game. There was a question of whether teammates would celebrate the home run, with him, which was quickly erased, as the home run did give the team the lead. Would they have celebrated a solo home run down 8-0? We’ll never know.
On top of the payment itself, the Yankees will have to pay a 50% luxury tax penalty for being over the luxury tax threshold in player compensation for the season. Therefore, it will cost them $9 million overall. Cashman continued to address these concerns with the media.
“The great thing about contracts, if there’s any dispute, there’s mechanisms for anybody who has any misunderstanding or misinterpretation; there are procedures in place to have people determine if there is any misunderstanding. We don’t believe there is any misunderstanding,” said Cashman.
It would be up to Alex Rodriguez to file a grievance for any contract issues with the Yankees, and the Players Association says they are ready to address this with the league.“The union is prepared to intervene on Alex’s behalf,” the spokesman Greg Bouris said in an email to the New York Times.
Will Alex Rodriguez address this now, or wait until after the season? Will he not address it at all, and rely solely upon the fruits of his 10-year $275 million contract he signed in 2007? Only time will tell. Alex Rodriguez reaching the home run mark of 660, even if he loses the financial reward initially set for it, was a nice sidebar in a dramatic Yankees win over their divisonal rivals, the Boston Red Sox. It is clear that he and the team are playing well and aim to continue to do so, even if Alex Rodriguez, the $275 million man, does not become the $6 million man.
By Evander Smart
Photo by Keith Allison – Creativecommons Flickr License