Taking a page from the NHL owners, Yankee management has announced today that former slugger Alex Rodriguez has been locked out of the clubhouse pending a renegotiation of his massive contract. Ownership is looking for a 20% roll back in the player salary.
The NHL is entering the 4th week of its lock out of the players in the hopes of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement more to their liking. Owners initially proposed a 20% across the board cut in player salaries and a reduction in their percentage of league revenues. Players balked at that offer, and the owners promptly lock the players out of camp. The last labor stoppage in the NHL forced the cancellation of the entire NHL season, and this standoff appears headed in that same direction.
Principal owner of the Yankees, Hank Steinbrenner, has watched this impasse unfold in hockey, and believes it offers a creative solution to his franchise with their Alex Rodriguez problem. Representatives from the A-Rod camp have cried foul.
“Alex bargained in good faith for the existing contract and does not believe that a lock out at this time, right before Game 5, is the right way to handle the situation. It hurts the player and more importantly, it hurts the fans,” said uber lawyer Donald Fehr, moonlighting for the Yankee third baseman while the NHL and union talks go nowhere. “He just wants to play the game, and we owe that to the fans.”
The Rodriguez camp reportedly has offered several concessions to management in exchange for an end to his lock out. ESPN is reporting that the convicted performance enhancing drug cheater has agreed in principle to bat in a lower position in the line up and take extra batting practice prior to playoff elimination games. The Yankees are holding fast to their demands that A-Rod stop striking out in late inning RBI situations and sit against right handed pitching. There are no future meetings scheduled between the two sides.
“He is willing to compromise, but the team has to meet him half way. Locking the great Alex Rodriguez out of the starting lineup does nothing but harden our negotiating position,” said Fehr. “He could just go play in Japan until this lock out is lifted.”
Steinbrenner had a different perspective on the fast unraveling situation with his aging unpopular star with declining bat speed.
“Like the NHL owners, we signed the most recent deal with labor without the benefit of knowing how the contract would ultimately destroy the game we both love. We want Alex to hit and we know Alex wants to hit, so let’s get a deal done now before it’s too late and the playoffs are over,” said Hank Steinbrenner. “Alex taking a pay cut and DH’ing on the road exclusively is in the best interest of the sport and we stand by that.”
A spokesperson for the Yankees did not rule out the possibility of involving a federal mediator at some point, although that does not appear imminent at this time.
"A mediator can only be helpful if both sides are willing to embrace it and compromise," he said. "We certainly haven't ruled out that possibility."
When asked whether the Yankees could change their minds and pencil Rodriguez into the DH role for tonight’s Game 5 against Baltimore, a Yankee insider said that the mood in the executive offices is ‘not overly encouraging’.
“At some point, we’ll need to discuss the core economic issues. We can’t continue to pay the player more money than we take in.”
In other sports news:
· KHL attendance for games in Russia is up 236% against last year’s attendance figures.
· Baltimore announces plans for an A-Rod statute at Camden Yards should the Orioles win tonight.
· LeBron James tweets something stupid about Libya.
· Brett Favre holds a press conference to confirm that he is “probably retired, I think maybe”.
· Lance Armstrong confesses that he never actually had cancer.