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Five Yankee ripple effects after the A-Rod report
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Ripple effect No. 2: How does Joe Girardi handle this one? Joe Torre's great strength in his Yankee years was keeping the ship righted in rough seas. This one would have been right up his alley. But Torre is gone and, as his new book makes clear, he was tired of the A-Rod drama anyway. Girardi began his tenure as Yankees manager as the Pettitte saga came to a head. Girardi expressed optimism that it would not remain a distraction to Pettitte, saying, "The truth shall set you free." Girardi then proceeded to hide or fudge the truth through the entire season, damaging his relationship with the media. In the meantime, he failed to establish a grip on the clubhouse, especially with the veterans. As Torre proved, a manager's first task is managing the personalities of the clubhouse. So while Girardi is a strong tactician, he now faces his toughest test in psychology. No one-hour post-game meeting will solve this. All this comes as Girardi already feels the hot seat. He oversaw the Yankees first absence from the postseason since 1993, and now that he has been handed C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett, he has to win. Or else. That task just got tougher. Fallout: Girardi doesn't seem able to relate to players who aren't like he was that is, no-nonsense, hard-working and burning to win above all else. There's no indication he has been able to get close to A-Rod. Girardi is a smart man, so maybe he'll figure out A) a way to connect with and soothe A-Rod and B) who in his clubhouse can help Rodriguez deal with this (i.e., Long) and let that person handle it.
Ripple effect No. 3: Will this affect the entire clubhouse after the Yankees spent a quarter-billion dollars to reload?
Ripple effect No. 4: Will Brian Cashman finally get sick of all this? Whenever A-Rod's opt-out clause was mentioned in 2007, Cashman said that if Rodriguez chose to exercise it, the Yankees would not negotiate with him on a new contract. A-Rod opted out, and the Yankees gave him a raise. With George Steinbrenner a non-factor, his sons decided to accept Rodriguez's apology and bring him back. So if Cashman had his way, this latest problem would be someone else's. Cashman is used to this type of crisis, but that doesn't mean he likes having it take away from his efforts to build a championship team. And this particular one could simmer inside him, as a reminder that he was overruled on A-Rod.
Ripple effect No. 5: Is the Yankees franchise tainted? A disproportionate number of players publicly linked to performance-enhancing drugs have worn pinstripes. Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi and now A-Rod are the big ones. It doesn't mean the Yankees were enablers or suppliers, of course. It does mean that as they tried to fix their on-field problems by going after the biggest stars they were willing to look the other way if they had any suspicions. Then again, does that make the Yankees different from any other franchise? Fallout: When Rodriguez's 14 years with the Yankees are up, the 1996-2000 dynasty will be a distant memory. And the A-Rod era will be an embarrassment or a success based only on whether he can ever take the team to a championship. It has been said many times that the mark of a great player is that he makes those around him better. That makes A-Rod one of the all-time greats in distractions.