For a night, he was a conquering hero walking away in glory.
For his career, he was a controversial figure who played in scandal.
It is up to the historians now. Alex Rodriguez has walked away from the game, and the Yankees, and the headlines that plagued him throughout his career. Was he a great Yankee, as the numbers suggest? Was he a cheater, as his history suggests? Either way, we will have eternity to debate it.
Rodriguez, 40, played his final game Friday night, adding an RBI double in the New York Yankees 6-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. His final batting average was .200, and the decision to part ways was that of the Yankees. But one by one A-Rod’s teammates embraced him, and at the end, they chanted his name. They piped in “New York, New York.” They sent him out to third base in the ninth.
For a moment, no one mentioned steroids or suspensions.
“It was so awesome,” Rodriguez said on Fox TV. “I want to thank Joe (Girardi, the Yankees manager). That was quite a moment. It was pretty overwhelming.”
Rodriguez, still four home runs short of 700, would not discuss playing for another team.
In his last game as a Yankee, however, the team scored the game’s last three runs to beat the Rays and Chris Archer (6-16). Archer lasted six innings but gave up five runs, including a tiebreaking home run to Starling Castro.
For the Rays, Evan Longoria had two of the team’s four hits, including a home run and a run-scoring single.
A-Rod leaves the game as the all-time home run leader against the Rays with 56. Forty of those came as a Yankee. His 233 hits are tied for second with David Ortiz behind Derek Jeter (317).
The Rays are 46-67 on the season. Today, Matt Andriese pitches against Masahiro Tanaka.