The Yankees are totally pretending that A-Rod isn’t nearing Willie Mays’ home run total

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I understand the Yankees’ lack of a desire to actually celebrate Alex Rodriguez’s 660th home run. I totally get why they don’t want to pay him a big bonus for actually hitting it. They may even have some decent legal recourse to avoid doing so, I don’t know. Really, and 100% honestly, there are non-crazy arguments for the Yankees to not want to be in the Alex Rodriguez Glorification business.

But “acknowledging reality” is not the same thing as glorifying, and the Yankees are apparently not even going to acknowledge reality. From Mark Feinsand of the Daily News:

When is a milestone not really a milestone? When the Yankees decide it’s not, apparently.

The team is not including Alex Rodriguez’s pursuit of Willie Mays’ No. 4 spot on the all-time home runs list as part of its daily “Upcoming Milestones” sheet, which distributed to the media prior to every series by the media relations department.

I’ve seen these sheets before. They have everything from big, important milestones to the bullpen catcher’s birthday. It’s a veritable avalanche of facts, figures and trivia. Sometimes reporters use them to flesh out game stories or columns. Most of the time the information gets ignored.

But, as Feinsand notes, this is a litigation tactic. If the Yankees appear to be getting any marketing value out of A-Rod tying Mays, it could be used against them if A-Rod decides to take them to arbitration for not paying the bonus. A “see, you marketed it!” kind of thing. They are, in contrast, noting on the milestones sheet other, relatively minor upcoming A-Rod feats such him being one run shy of tying Derek Jeter for ninth place on MLB’s all-time runs scored list.

All of which is stupid, because it’s not like the media and fans aren’t aware that Rodriguez is nearing Mays’ mark. It’s not like we won’t note it and, if he’s at 659 when the Yankees are on a homestand, at least some people won’t buy tickets to see it. Of course they will. It may not give the Yankees a $6 million marketing kick, but it’ll be something. And if they note every single minor thing their players achieve but conspicuously avoid this one thing, an arbitrator is going to assume that they did it precisely to try to get out of paying the guy. Ultimately, all that matters to whether they do have to pay him is what the contract language says about it all, which we don’t know. A line on an information sheet isn’t going to change the game.

But it will make the Yankees brass look dumb. And make them look like they think the fans and the press is dumb. If that’s something they think is cool, well, good for them. Most people think that’s pretty jerky.