Five years. It's how long it took Michael Young to be able to veto going from one banbox to another. It's how long it took Xavi to win 14 trophies. And it's how long it took New York Yankees' fans to realize signing Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year deal in 2007 was a bad idea.
The cries have come in only now after his debacle of a postseason. Bronx Bombers fans watched him, spreading his legs wide, his swing still the same, but the follow-through probably longer than two bats put together. Swing, miss, out, go back to the bench, flirt with some 18-year olds from the bench as your team crumbles to the Detroit Tigers in four games – the supporters all saw this. In playoffs that included Robinson Cano crashing to an 0-26 skid that was worse than any other slide in postseason history, Rodriguez stood in the spotlight. It wasn't because he was an MVP candidate in 2012 that choked. It wasn't because he posted an anomaly amid a legendary playoff batting record. It wasn't even because he promised to hit well. No, it was because he was this rich guy. A guy, who with his $30 million salary last year collected only three hits in the 2012 postseason – or in more simple math, a guy who collected $1.6 million for three hits in the 2012 postseason. If only we could all do that.
It wasn't Texas in 2000. The Rangers saw one of the biggest free-agents of all-time, at age 25, coming off a 41 home run season and a bronze finish in the American League Most Valuable Player race. A-Rod was already tearing through shortstop records with an odd level of power not often seen before him (hint hint). Four years before he hit .358; that past 2000 season he posted a .420 on-base percentage; he hit 40+ home runs in three straight seasons; he stole 46 bases the year before; his OPS was near or over 1.000 for five straight years. Oh yeah, did I mention he was 25 and hint hint?
The Rangers knew with $250 million or more they could snatch up A-Rod for the majority of whatever near-prime and prime years he had left in his system. Even with a 10-year deal only the last few back years of the contract would show sluggish A-Rod. Thus, a 10-year, $252 million contract was dropped to make Arlington A-Rod’s home until he was 35. The move for the Yankees, however, was, to be nice, foolish. The 32-year old A-Rod was already nearing, if not already in, his decline. Around age 32, the swings slow down, the speed declines, and the number of bats on balls plummets (Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will see this in their slightly calmer version of the A-Rod debacle). Yet, the cries didn't flow in back then. The signs reading, “A-Rod, redeem thyneself!” were not existent in 2007. Some knew the severity of the idiocy of a 10-year deal for an age 32 player, but for the most part you didn't hear the boom on the radio of New Yorkers crying treason. The fans were more livid that A-Rod even bothered opting out his contact with the Yankees in the first place, citing evil and bad play. Even worse, egad! was A-Rod announcing his opt-out during the World Series as the Colorado Rockies attempted to make money look like the losing man’s game. Aside from all this, however, there wasn’t nearly the same backlash now as there was back then. Today, Yankee supporters are screaming and gulping about Rodriguez staying in the Bronx for five more years. “It’s poppycock!” they yell. “Who on earth would sign a 32-year old to a 10-year deal! Bah humbug!” It was all quiet back in 2007, though, easy to forfeit more dollars than there were people in the United States at time since Rodriguez was coming off a 54 home run season that would turn into an MVP award a few weeks after the opt out. That’s easy reasoning for fans! There’s no reason to do math! Who could have known! they say. But oh, the Yankees knew, they just had to have known.
It wasn't even as if the Yankees thought wasting five or six years was a good price for everything else Rodriguez would do after the age of 32. A championship wasn't going to ride solely on A-Rod, the perennial postseason flop. The Yankees make the postseason nearly every year with or without Rodriguez. One more star in addition to 24 notable players doesn't make or break a 162-game season when you're the Yankees; one more star in the short playoffs when facing the best pitchers can, though. The Yankees knew A-Rod wasn't going to suddenly start belting home runs and hits in the postseason like he did in the regular season, delivering them World Series titles. A-Rod had already been with the team for four years, and aside from 2004, an eon of New York Yankee postseason success past, Rodriguez only recorded one playoff home run while with the Yankees. One championship for 10 years and $161 million must be a brilliant financial plan.
There was no doubt from the beginning: The deal was to satisfy that guy, the $1.6 million three-hit guy. Now the Yankees pay their price, enjoying five years and $114 million of 37-year old baseball. The Yankees knew. Some fans even knew. The misguided investment has blown up, the Yankees acting like they could never have known. It must be fun to see the future, ignore it, and then pretend to be stunned when your fans finally realize the folly of the plan. It only took half a decade for the message to reach everywhere else.