First up, 3rd MVP. Next, $275 million contract. Alex Rodriguez loves New York
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez got another honor -- a nice one, just not the one he preferred.
"There's definitely a huge hole in the resume. And I mean, it's my third MVP and I'm here to say that I would trade all three for one world championship. I wouldn't think twice about it," Rodriguez said Monday after winning in a romp over Detroit's Magglio Ordonez.
A-Rod wouldn't address why he opted out of his old Yankees contract or the reasons for his decision to reverse course and return to New York, but he did slip this into a 30-minute conference call: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman asked him following the 2006 season, after he was dropped to eighth in the batting order in the playoff finale against Detroit, whether he'd prefer a trade.
"I had many, many opportunities," Rodriguez said. "There was a lot of interest from a lot of other teams and I felt I didn't want to go anywhere."
Cashman later confirmed that he approached A-Rod after the 2006 playoff elimination and asked the star third baseman whether he wanted to be traded. Despite four seasons in New York that filled more tabloid headlines than most players get in a lifetime, Rodriguez wants to stay. If he breaks Barry Bonds' career home run record, he wants to do it with the Yankees.
"It's something magical when you go in that field in front of 55,000 people, and then when you make championships and all-time records. I mean, the potential of it is exciting," he said.
By then, the Yankees will be in their new stadium, one Rodriguez hopes to put his stamp on. He admitted playing in the glare of the Big Apple took a long time to get used to.
"I banged my head against New York; New York didn't bang me against the head. I felt like I made a lot of mistakes," he said. "I was trying to please everybody rather than do what made me happy."
His new attitude produced his best season and it showed in the MVP race. Rodriguez received 26 first-place votes and 382 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, while Ordonez had two firsts and 258 points.
Rodriguez won his first MVP in 2003, his last season with the Texas Rangers. He also won with the Yankees in 2005. Those yearly fluctuations bother him.
"It's something I'm aware of and something that needs to stop," he said. "I'd much rather have above average every year or great every year or good every year."
Rodriguez started this year with 14 homers in his first 18 games, hit .314 for the season and led the majors with 54 homers, 156 RBIs and 143 runs. He was the first player since the Yankees' Roger Maris in 1961 to lead the majors in homers, RBIs and runs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
An 11-time All-Star, Rodriguez became the ninth player to win the MVP three or more times. Barry Bonds holds the record with seven -- all in the NL -- and Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial and Mike Schmidt won three apiece.
"I'm expected to do great things, I mean, for a lot of reasons, and I understand that," Rodriguez said.
The only two first-place votes that didn't go to Rodriguez were from Tom Gage of The Detroit News and Jim Hawkins of The Oakland Press in Pontiac, Mich.
"Magglio is a friend and had an unbelievable season," Rodriguez said. "I've been on that side of the fence many, many times."
He remembered back to his first full season in the majors with Seattle, when he finished three points behind Texas' Juan Gonzalez in MVP balloting.
"I was almost in tears in 1996 when I didn't win the award, and it was very painful," Rodriguez said. "At the time, I was 20 years old and thought I would never get another chance to win it."
Still, there is the absence of a title. He's spoken with quarterback John Elway about the need for one to validate a career.
"Definitely the exclamation point in his career was the two championships at the end, and I have tremendous faith that I will be a world champion," Rodriguez said. "What better place to do it than in New York?"
Rodriguez didn't want to talk about his negotiations with the Yankees that are leading toward a $275 million, 10-year contract. "There is a finish line in sight," Rodriguez said, adding he would talk about the contract "when the time is right."
A-Rod struggled in the playoffs again this year as the Yankees lost to Cleveland in the first round. He went 4-for-15 (.267) with one RBIs against the Indians, leaving him in an 8-for-59 (.136) postseason funk dating to 2004 and hitless in his past 18 playoff at-bats with runners in scoring position.
He had talked about his desire to get more postseason at-bats, but that didn't happen.
"Part of the reason I'm not getting those at-bats is because I'm not performing," he said.
A-Rod earned a $1.5 million bonus for winning the award, which completes the contract he opted out of last month. He earned $185.45 million over seven years in that deal, including bonuses, an average of $26.49 million annually.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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