Alex Rodriguez’s career -- at least in pinstripes -- will come to an end tonight at Yankee Stadium. And what a career it has been. From the MVP performances to the PED scandals, A-Rod has had arguably the most bizarre run of any player in recent memory -- if not of all time. So how, exactly, should it all end? After all that has happened, anything less than the wildly dramatic simply would seem like a letdown. So here are the seven possible ways he can exit and remain in character.
Getty ImagesJim McIsaac
He isn’t going to hit the four homers he needs to reach 700 for his career, but what about one more in walk-off fashion? A-Rod went deep for his 3,000th hit, and homering in his final at-bat might be the only way to top that. He’d get the opportunity to round the bases as slowly as he’d like and soak it all in one final time. Consider it the Roy Hobbs moment that always has eluded him.
Getty ImagesJim McIsaac
As wonderfully heartwarming as that heroic ending sounds, it really isn’t A-Rod. Wouldn’t it be classic Rodriguez if he were to be called out on a third strike and then start jawing with the home-plate umpire? Imagine how patient the man in blue would have to be before ejecting A-Rod from his final game as a major leaguer. And if not a clash with an umpire, how about a skirmish with an opposing player? Let him go out swinging, literally.
Getty ImagesTom Szczerbowski
It’s the scene we’ve witnessed countless times: the obligatory removal from the game by the manager in order to get a player one last rousing ovation from the home fans and to get greeted at the dugout by appreciative teammates. But this one has a twist. What if A-Rod tips his caps to the crowd and no one really cheers? What if his teammates’ greeting is more like the silent treatment they’d give a rookie who just hit his first major-league homer? Oh the apathy!
Getty ImagesBruce Bennett
In addition to losing an entire season to the PED suspension, Rodriguez has been limited by surgery on both hips – in addition to other various maladies – in recent years. Maybe he pulls a hammy while running out a grounder tonight, maybe he twists an ankle while trying to grind out a double. Or maybe he gets plunked by a pitch that sails too far inside, leading to a conspiracy theory about whether the pitch really "got away."
Getty ImagesOtto Greule Jr
The possibilities are endless for how Rodriguez could make the game’s final out. Maybe he inadvertently channels the speed that once made him a stolen-base threat and accidentally passes a teammate on the bases. Maybe he gets overzealous and leaves third base too early when tagging up to score and is ruled out upon appeal. Maybe he is called out for running out of the baseline or for taking out the defender while sliding into second base. Nothing will rival the slapping incident with Bronson Arroyo in the 2004 ALCS, but surely something can come close.
Getty ImagesAdam Glanzman
Remember when a young A-Rod (then with the Rangers) forced Cal Ripken to move from third base to shortstop in the Iron Man’s final All-Star Game in 2001? Imagine that scene being reenacted tonight with Didi Gregorius checking out of the game so Rodriguez can play one final inning at the position where he broke into the majors and won two Gold Gloves. Whether because they’d want to see him botch a grounder or turn two one last time, baseball fans everywhere would be praying for a series of balls hit to A-Rod at short.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
Given all that’s happened to A-Rod over the past two decades (think: kissing the mirror, the Cousin Yuri adventures, the popcorn at the Super Bowl, the shirtless sunbathing in Central Park), we can only hope that he has saved the best for last and will ride off the field on the centaur from the portrait that allegedly once hung in his house. But if that doesn’t happen, just imagine the crafty Rays catching him off-guard with the hidden-ball trick. Or picture Rodriguez casually running to second base and getting hit by a groundball. It has to be something we’ve never seen before but will talk about forever.