Alex Rodriguez is a superstar. He is one of the greatest players that has ever played in Major League Baseball. Is he perfect? No. He is flawed and he is complicated and he is not unabashedly beloved like the Yankees stars who retired before him, even if he won the franchise a World Series in 2009.
He has money, so much money, and he is a magnet for attention. But he has no leverage anymore. Forced into possible retirement on Sunday—the Yankees are going to release Rodriguez after Friday night's game, and it seems almost unlikely that another team would sign him—his career is nearly done. He lost most of his social and baseball capitol years ago when MLB suspended him for a full-season after he was caught using performance enhancing drugs for the second time in his career. Even a rejuvenating comeback season in 2015 didn't buy him more goodwill this year.
The Yankees know this. They are taking advantage of it. They—or at least manager Joe Girardi—are picking apart the last few days of his career. This week, Girardi took back his promise to let Rodriguez play out the last few days of his career. After saying he would let Rodriguez have a say in how much he played this week against the Red Sox, Girardi benched Rodriguez on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Girardi finally put Rodriguez in the lineup on Thursday, but then then denied his request to play third base.
Of course Rodriguez will never be as beloved as Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, a fact made clear by Girardi's actions in the last week. Poor Rod.