New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has opted out of his contract with the team, leaving the Yankees scrambling to contain the damage to their lineup and their standing with their fan base.
After signing his record $252 million contact, A-Rod became a lightning rod to many sports fans. He became a symbol of athlete salaries run amok and the Grand Canyon-sized relationship gap between professional athletes and their fans. Many people opined for the days when Willie Mays played stickball with the neighborhood kids by day and the Brooklyn Dodgers by night. They could relate to Willie Mays, but not to A-Rod and his modern brethren. Upon closer inspection, Brother A-Rod, as I call him, is much more like us than you may think.
Brother A-Rod has a job just like you. When he started his career, just like you probably did, he dreamed for rising to the top of his industry. In very short order, through hard work and applying himself, he became the most productive employee in his company, if not his entire industry. In the three years prior to signing his “lightning rod” contract, Brother A-Rod averaged 42 home runs, 122 runs batted in, and a .305 batting average with the Seattle Mariners. In other words, his average year was more productive than the most productive years in the careers of most of his peers.
Further, he was a model employee. He created absolutely no scandal or embarrassment for his employer or his industry when he was away from the office. Yet despite unprecedented production for someone his age in his industry, his first employer was unwilling to pay him fair market value for his talent. He was incredibly accomplished and not yet even in his prime, yet his employer made a business decision and declined to give him the raise he was seeking. Even then, he was on track to be one of the best if not the best performer in the history of the industry, but his employer was unwilling to invest in him for the long term. Brother A-Rod was forced to seek other employment. Sound familiar?
Brother A-Rod got the salary he was due from his next employer. Rather than resting on his laurels, Brother A-Rod took his performance to another level. The next three years after getting his rightful contract, he averaged 52 home runs, 132 runs batted in, and a .305 batting average for the Texas Rangers. To put those numbers in perspective, Hank Aaron, the most prolific home run hitter in the 100-plus year history of Major League Baseball, did not have a single season in which he hit 50 home runs or more. "Fiddy" home runs was an average season for Brother A-Rod during this time.