Via the Times –
Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera was convinced that Alex Rodriguez had made a colossal blunder.
Rodriguez, the Yankees’ standout third baseman, had created a public uproar and infuriated team officials by opting out of his contract, the richest in the history of baseball at the time, seemingly to pursue options with other teams.
“I told him he had to take responsibility and make it right,” Rivera said last week at spring training, recalling how he admonished his teammate in the fall of 2007 and urged him to reconcile with the Yankees. “He had to call them.”
Rivera’s stern telephone call set in motion a negotiation that led to a contract that stands as the largest ever in American sports: $275 million over 10 years. It involved the rapper Jay-Z urging his friend Rodriguez to stay in New York, Goldman Sachs executives stepping in as intermediaries to smooth the negotiations and Rodriguez flying to Tampa, Fla., to ask the Steinbrenners for forgiveness, according to interviews with nearly a dozen people with direct knowledge of Rodriguez’s negotiations.
Within two years, he helped to deliver the team’s 27th World Series title.
But now, five years into the contract, that financial commitment hangs ominously over opening day, threatening to impose itself on virtually every decision the Yankees make and severely hampering management’s ability to cope with the shortcomings of an aging roster.
Well, still, in the end, if Hank Stein has any real stones, he would have told A-Rod to crawl back on his belly and then give him no more than five years. So, maybe Rivera had a hand in getting the parties together…but, it was the Yankees who signed off on the deal with the devil when they were only competing against themselves.