Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Season's Staggering Stat: A-Rod's Quarter-Billion

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Season's Staggering Stat: A-Rod's Quarter-Billion

Article excerpt

The season started in a faraway land with a strange sight -- opening day in Tokyo, broiled eel at the concession stands. It finished with a short ride and a familiar scene -- the New York Yankees hoisting another trophy after winning the Subway Series.

Derek Jeter & Co. became the first team in a quarter-century to win three consecutive World Series crowns, yet their 26th title was not baseball's biggest number in 2000.

The most staggering figure had nothing to do with the long balls launched by Slammin' Sammy, Big Mac and Junior in the Home Run Central. Or the wild pitches by Rick Ankiel that hit the backstop.

Instead, it was all about the money now belonging to Jeter's buddy, Alex Rodriguez.

A-Rod became A-Lot, getting more than a quarter-billion dollars to sign with the Texas Rangers. A dizzying, $252 million deal for 10 years.

"Texas just made it real easy for me," the superstar shortstop said.

It was more than Rangers owner Tom Hicks paid to buy the whole team three years ago from a group that included George W. Bush.

Naturally, plenty of his former players had planned to vote for the president-elect.

"I just think it would be cool to know the dude in the White House," pitcher Darren Oliver said.

Just like the presidential race, Baseball 2000 was spiced with controversy and a late finish.

Remember John Rocker? And what, exactly, was Roger Clemens doing when he threw that jagged bat barrel near Mike Piazza in the World Series, having already beaned the Mets' star three months earlier?

The playoff chase, meanwhile, was settled on the final day of the regular season. With many potential snags looming, Oakland and Seattle won their way in and Cleveland was left out.

"I was better off reciting the Declaration of Independence backwards than figuring out all the possible scenarios," Oakland's Randy Velarde said. …

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