"Intellectually, Alex is tying to understand the difference between his free agency and that of Mariano and Posada," Boras said by phone yesterday. "Alex Rodriguez has never said he does not want to be a Yankee. Filing for free agency doesn't mean that. Because Rivera and Posada are free agents doesn't mean they don't want to be Yankees."Intellectually, you've got to be kidding me. By opting out of the contract--without negotiating--Alex Rodriguez effectively took somewhere between $21 to $30 million in money the Yanks were getting from the Rangers to help pay A-Rod's salary, and threw it in a shredder. He declared his opt-out during the World Series, and as the Yanks were preparing to announce their new manager, a move calculated to humiliate the franchise. That's how you're different from Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, big guy. Mariano Rivera waited until the Series was over, then came down to Tampa and took a meeting with the Yankees front office. Simple, respectful, classy.
Alex Rodriguez gained absolutely nothing by opting out of his contract this weekend. Because of the exclusive negotiating period that applies to all free agents, he and Boras aren't allowed to talk to teams other than the Yankees until November 12. Rodriguez's opt-out period would have coincided neatly with the period when he wasn't going to be on the open market, anyway. What did it cost him to wait? Nothing. The Yankees, on the other hand...
Was Alex obligated to negotiate an extension? No. Maybe he just wants to leave the Bronx--then the Yanks are doing the absolute right thing, not allowing Boras to use them in his bidding process. But the fact is, Rodriguez had a great opportunity to make it look like his concerns about the "uncertainty" surrounding the franchise were genuine. He could have insisted that he wanted Joe Torre to come back as manager, or he could have given his input about his preference for Mattingly or Girardi or Peña. He could have acted in good faith.
But the Yankees were clear about this for months: opting out--and costing the Yanks those millions of dollars--meant that the negotiations were over. It's not a hard concept to get, "intellectually." Alex is a smart guy, and that shouldn't be too hard for him to understand. I hope he doesn't hurt himself trying to wrap his mind around it.
Boras, meanwhile, is a really smart guy, who sadly is just being spectacularly dishonest. To paraphrase Mr. Blonde, "If he hadn't a done. What Brian Cashman told him not to do. This negotiation would still be alive." Boras is a guy who's constantly handing down ultimatums, so he should understand how they work.
All that said, Hank Steinbrenner is setting a world record for people who quickly make me want them to be extremely silent. I know we're only a couple of weeks into the Hank & Hal era, but I can't think of anyone ever doing this so effectively without being a telemarketer or a Scientologist.
Right now, he's not someone who's safe in a battle of wits with Scott Boras. If he's as intent to take up his father's mantle, he'd better show a better gift for gab, or else learn to issue his press releases through Howard Rubenstein.