As you probably already know, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez hit his 661st home run on Thursday night, passing Willie Mays for fourth all-time on the home run list. However, the feat has now turned into a childish fight over whether A-Rod should get paid a $6 million bonus that was promised to him in 2007. When he signed his contract then, it stated that he would be paid the bonus, as it is (or was then, anyway) a “marketing opportunity.” However, the Yankees’ organization does not plan to pay A-Rod the bonus because it is no longer a marketing opportunity, due to his repeated PED use and his hitting a good deal of good deal of those home runs while supposedly juiced.
First of all, I’ll tell you my opinion right now, straight up: I think he should get the money. When an organization signs a player to a contract, it should at least have to fulfill the obligations of that contract. If the player is forced to play out the contract for the team that signs him, the team should have to fulfill its end of the bargain as well. After all, this is an organization that is able to pay its players large sums of money to its players, especially those who are older and past their prime (Rodriguez is making $22 million this year, the product of the worst MLB contract of all time.) They are far from financially constrained; they can give up $6 million for one of its players giving their organization publicity, good or bad.
Second, let me just say how ridiculous it is that a player’s organization is regarding an incredible accomplishment as nothing more than a “marketing opportunity.” Sure, A-Rod cheated (a lot), but for a player to attain an accomplishment as impressive as this in pinstripes? People will identify that moment forever with the Yankees. More that that, however, for Alex Rodriguez, at this point in his career, this achievement is one that will last a lifetime. Can the same be said about “marketing opportunities?” I don’t think so. I look at this contract just like any other incentive-based deal: if the player reaches the milestone that is outlined in the contract, the team should just pay him the money. It’s just like if there is a $1 million bonus for a pitcher to reach a certain number of strikeouts. If the pitcher reaches that number, the team pays him, not for the “marketing opportunity”, but for the accomplishment attained.
Personally, I find this debate to be one of the stupider and more childish sports debates we’ve had in a long time. It is also stupid and childish on the part of the Yankees to not pay him the money because of so-called “marketing opportunities.” I wish that the organization would just do the right thing, fulfill its contractual obligations, and pay him his well-deserved money. But that won’t happen; they won’t pay him voluntarily.
Long live “marketing opportunities.”