It’s too bad for Alex Rodriguez that he didn’t like Seattle well enough to stay. Oh well, the Pacific Northwest is getting used to losing its baseball stars — and learning to forget about the loss.
A couple of months ago, the departure of Rodriguez would have been viewed as something approaching a disaster for the Seattle Mariners if not the entire region. Since the end of the season, though, Rodriguez had done much to put distance between himself and the fans.
A story came out of New York suggesting that his agent had let the New York Mets know that Rodriguez would be favorably inclined toward them if he could have a private jet, an office and his own promotional staff. Whatever the truth of that story, the Mets said they wanted nothing more to do with Rodriguez and the New York team stuck to it. It says quite a bit that a team in New York, which knows world-class arrogance quite well, walked away from the contract bidding.
Rodriguez’s agent, Scott Boras, is particularly disliked around baseball for his ruthless focus on money. He does a good job of representing his clients. And one of his services is clearly to take the heat for the greediest stars’ own desire to squeeze the baseball owners, and the fans who support the game, of every possible penny.
In Seattle, taxpayers have financed most of the $517 billion cost of a new stadium. According to Mr. Rodriguez, the public didn’t do a very good job of fulfilling his dreams. Incredibly, he posted his objections to the stadium’s fences on his own Web site recently. Rodriguez’s thoughts pretty much boiled down to one fact: He doesn’t get enough homeruns in Safeco to fuel as many appearances on national TV as he would like. So the fences must be too far away — even though some other players’ performances there may suggest otherwise or that Rodriguez, at least, has exaggerated the situation.
Over the past two decades, there has been a great deal of discussion about the ways baseball could contribute to a quality environment for families and young people. Communities have gone to great lengths in building baseball parks to keep or attract teams. Owners and players have continually driven up operating costs with higher salaries. There are clear signs, though, that some in baseball know they may be at the edge of what the public will buy. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig reportedly is floating the idea of reducing the number of Major League franchises.
With a quarter billion dollar contract, Rodriguez is testing just how attached people are to the idea that a city and its young people receive plenty in return for the high pay accorded to the top players. That he’s pushing the limits of tolerance and good sense elsewhere is just fine.
Fans here will join in wishing him well. Without Rodriguez, the Mariners will have less in the way of a player with an identity among the starstuck fans around the country. The same was true when Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. took their talents elsewhere. The region, the city and even the Mariners did just fine, thank you, in the wake of those departures.
Rodriguez’s talents and self-promotional efforts are now moving to Texas. The Northwest will move on.