Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Winning isn't everything ...

... it's the only thing.

Unlike the Boston Red Sox, this is something that the New York Yankees understand. For those of you who don't know what I'm referring to, today the New York Yankees added the league's reigning MVP to their already star-studded roster. But the interesting part of this story is that a deal sending A-Rod to the Red Sox seemed all but done in December. Then things fell apart. And over what? Over a mere $16 million dollars. After paying over $660 million for the team, Red Sox ownership allowed $16 million to come between them and the signing of baseball's greatest player. This is something that the Yankees would never have allowed to happen.

But, the Boston Red Sox are not the only participants in this saga that seem to be late in learning the importance of winning. Rodriguez himself learned this lesson the hard way. Three years ago, at the age of 25, the star shortstop left the Seattle Mariners (admittedly a small market team) to explore the free agent market. At that time, A-Rod turned down an opportunity to play under the bright lights of the Big Apple -- not with the Yankees but with the Mets. That year, the Mets played in a World Series. Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez earned a few more dollars down in the Lone Star State but his Rangers finished last in each of his three seasons there. Now, Rodriguez has seen the light.

I know what some of your are thinking, "Yeah, but A-Rod isn't giving up any of his salary to make this move." True. But Mr. Rodriguez is making some serious sacrifices. First, he is giving up his number. A-Rod's familiar #3 has long been retired in honor of the founder of the Yankee dynasty, Babe Ruth. But more importantly, the game's most dominant shortstop is switching positions. A-Rod will have to learn how to play third base because there is already a shortstop in the Bronx. He is the team captain, and his name is Derek Jeter.

It will be interesting to see how this season unfolds. Yankees fans have a whole new enthusiasm. And Yankees haters have a whole new reason for the venom. Thank goodness spring training finally getting under way.