Posted on August 13, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Some people in baseball love him, and some people in baseball hate him, but it was mostly a love fest Friday night in the Bronx as Alex Rodriguez played the final game of his New York Yankees career in front of a sellout crowd of 46,459 at Yankee Stadium. Rodriguez went 1 for 4 with an RBI double and even saw some action at third base in his Yankees farewell, as New York beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-3.
The evening didn’t exactly start out as planned, as a thunderstorm interrupted a pre-game ceremony to honor A-Rod. But the clouds eventually cleared and the game was played, and the only thing thunderous the rest of the night was the applause Rodriguez received every time he stepped to the plate, particularly his first at bat when he hit an RBI double of Tampa starter Chris Archer. The rest of his at bats were non-eventful, with two groundouts and a strikeout, but the crowds cheers didn’t wane.
After Rodriguez grounded out in the bottom of the 8th, chants of “We want A-Rod” echoed throughout Yankee Stadium. After a brief conversation with manager Joe Girardi, Rodriguez retreated to the clubhouse to grab a glove and came out for the top of the 9th playing third base, despite Girardi saying previously that A-Rod would not play the field in his final game. Rodriguez stayed at third base for one batter, who struck out, before Ronald Torreyes came out to replace him, allowing Rodriguez to exit one final time to chants of “Thank you, A-Rod.”
“I’ve given these fans a lot of headaches over the years and I’ve disappointed a lot of people,” Rodriguez said over the stadium’s public-address system. “But like I’ve always said, you don’t have to be defined by your mistakes. How you come back matters, too, and that’s what New York’s all about.”
Girardi said after the game that he was glad to give Rodriguez one last chance to play the field in his final game. “If this is the last time he plays,” Girardi said before pausing for 10 seconds amidst tears in his eyes. “I wanted it to be something he never forgot.” Girardi also said he planned on giving Rodriguez two batters at third base, but Rodriguez insisted he just stay out there for one at bat.
“I’m very grateful that Joe gave me the opportunity to play third for one out,” Rodriguez said. “I was actually excited. I haven’t touched my third base glove in a long time. It was great.” Rodriguez also took the opportunity to collect a little infield dirt, inspired by Roger Clemens doing the same. “Third base is where I lived,” he explained. “I just wanted a little memory.”
Finally, Rodriguez took a moment at his postgame press conference to thank the Yankee fans who supported him through thick and thin. “With all that I’ve been through, and for them to show up on a night like tonight and show me that type love is something that I’ll never forget. It was overwhelming.”