Alex Rodriguez will play the final game of his Yankee career Friday against Tampa Bay. This was an emotional decision for Rodriguez, who announced his retirement Sunday, especially since he might not have been the one to make it.
“I understand they didn’t have the flexibility to go to their bench and do the things that is necessary to win, and so they had to make the move,” former Yankee and nine-time All-Star Gary Sheffield said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “They made it a business decision more so than a personal (decision).”
As of now, Rodriguez, 41, will retire with 696 home runs. Doug Gottlieb wonders if Rodriguez should try to sign with, say, Tampa Bay, to reach the 700-homer club. A lot of Yankee fans live in Tampa Bay, and the Rays (45-66) have absolutely nothing to play for.
Would the numbers be worth it for Rodriguez?
“Yeah, I think it’s worth it,” said Sheffield, who, with 499 home runs, signed with the Mets in 2009 to chase history. “He’s played a long time. You get to certain numbers that you don’t expect to get to. To get to 700 home runs, that’s a lot of home runs. For me, to get to 500 home runs, I was one away, so I would be remiss if I didn’t just give it a shot and go for it. I could have stuck around two or three more years and played and padded my numbers, but it was one of those things where I felt like I accomplished enough. I didn’t need to prove anything else. I think in his situation, he’s accomplished more than most people have accomplished. To get to 700, there’s only three people there. I think to be the fourth guy is a special honor.”
Sheffield, who retired with 509 home runs, thoroughly enjoyed sharing a clubhouse with Rodriguez from 2004 to 2006.
“A-Rod was a great teammate to me,” Sheffield said. “He was fun to be around. You knew that as a player when you have a player on your level and you feel like you’re going out to war, you know that this guy is going to be there for you when times get rough. It takes pressure off of you that you don’t have to carry the load. Anytime you have an A-Rod on your team, you have a chance to win. I can only say positive things about him because he was only a positive around us.”
Many outsiders, however, cannot say the same. Yes, Rodriguez, who tested positive for PEDs on multiple occasions, is one of the most disliked athletes in all of sports. His numbers look great, but they don’t exactly engender the warm and fuzzies from many fans.
“Well, I look at perception, and a lot of times perception is reality no matter what the scenario is or how you want to explain it,” Sheffield said. “That’s just the reality of it, especially when it comes to fans and the public. Buy guys that got caught doing steroids, those guys should (be held) to a different standard than guys that have just been under suspicion. When you hold a guy under suspicion, he’s no different than the guy that wasn’t under suspicion because he never failed the test, you couldn’t prove anything and there’s nothing to it. It’s just people’s perspective on it and what they think. With that being said, guys that have been caught – that’s why there’s rules in place to deal with players like that, and I think they’ve done that.”
Sheffield, one of only four players in major league history to hit a homer before 20 and after 40, also shared his thoughts on Tim Tebow’s decision to pursue a pro baseball career. Sheffield, 47, believes Tebow, who turns 29 on August 14, could play in the majors.
“The bottom line is, Tim Tebow is a natural,” said Sheffield, who has worked with the former Heisman Trophy winner. “When you watch his swing, I could put his video up against Michael Jordan, I could put his video up against Brian Jordan, I could put his video up against Deion Sanders – guys who have done this before. I can tell you out of all of them – besides, I would say, Brian Jordan, who had a track record of being productive in the majors for a long time – I would say Tim Tebow is right there as far as swing is concerned. When you have the right swing and the right tempo and the right balance, I think that it translates to big leagues. I think it can translate to the highest level. Now I can’t go out and hit for Tim Tebow and I can’t go out and vouch for when a pitcher is standing on the mound and he’s seeing a breaking ball or he’s seeing 98 miles an hour. But I can vouch for what I saw in the cage. If he can catch up to those pitches – which, I think he can because of his bat speed – if I showed you the video that I covered on him, you would say the same thing. But there’s no guarantees in making it to the big leagues because there’s so many players that try to make it that don’t make it. Tim Tebow, I feel that his work ethic and his desire and his determination is second to none. With all of that in one package, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t.”