I am astounded. I really am.

Alex Rodriguez, the greatest player in the sport of baseball, opted out of a guaranteed 72 million dollars, and almost certainly another 200 million dollars, choosing to leave the most storied franchise in sports: The New York Yankees. That’s amazing. He is an amazing player who made his mark the Seattle Mariners, left for Texas and the largest contract ever signed in sports, and got traded to New York to win championships. That never happened, but the chance presented itself every October. I thought he was going to stay in New York. I thought he had finally found peace within, with the New York media, had made friends he didn’t want to leave behind, had started seeing that consistency and loyalty were greater and more rewarding things than money. Than attention.

Sure it was his right to opt out of his contract. Maybe he just didn’t like living in New York. Maybe he didn’t like the direction the team is headed. Maybe he was still looking to find his own little corner of the green earth, one he felt just clicked with him. I don’t begrudge him that. I am surprised. But I don’t hold it against him.

It would be like working for a mega corporation, earning big dollars, getting nice perks, having the work I did be part of the news every month. Only, I never really liked all the scrutiny, never really liked the attention or the parade that seemed to accompany everything I did. I had more money than I would ever be able to spend, more money than I needed. And I just didn’t feel comfortable, just didn’t feel like..me there. It would make sense to opt out of my contract and find somewhere I was able to relax and pursue my passions privately and with people that I enjoyed being around everyday.

When I thought about Alex Rodriguez opting out of his contract, I always wanted to give him the benefit of doubt. I wanted to believe that he would opt out of his contract and leave New York for good reasons. For his family, or his peace of mind, or to help a good young franchise over the hump to a championship.

I really wanted to believe that Alex would choose to renew with New York because he believed that it was the best franchise out there. I mean, young kids, myself included, grow up dreaming of one day playing for the New York Yankees. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Whitey Ford, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Don Mattingly. The list of legends goes on and every baseball fan knows these names. A-Rod could have added his name to that list. He could have ended his career with New York. He would have smashed record after record and added to the legends and mystique that surround the Yankees. I wanted to believe he would choose New York because he wanted his career to be legendary.

Instead he left, and he left in the worst way.

His timing was lousy and it told us more about who he was as a person. He did it during the final game of a World Series he wasn’t even playing in, upstaging a fantastic Boston Red Sox victory and the sad end to an unbelievable postseason run by the Colorado Rockies. When the focus should have been on these two teams, a single man tried to steal the show, and unfortunately did. He couldn’t have waited one day, or two days. He couldn’t let two teams bask in the spotlight, enjoy the end to their great seasons. The Red Sox couldn’t even enjoy their championship without being asked, reminded of Alex Rodriguez’s decision. Sad. Very sad.

And the Yankees. He slapped the organization in the face. He refused every attempt by the Yankees to talk to him, to hear their generous contract extensions. He never even returned their calls. Instead, his agent, the notorious Scott Boras, text messaged the general manager of the Yankees, informing them of his decision to opt out after the story was broken to the media. A gentleman, a man of character.

Thank you A-Rod for being the individual you are. It makes it easier to watch you walk out the door.

© Seth Crossman