(Hold on to this idea for a moment: New York City has a very large diplomatic community, many of whom live and work in the city on very low salaries.)
Barring a major meltdown, Alex Rodriguez will play for the Yankees in 2008. It's also generally accepted that the total compensation of his new deal will eclipse the mammoth contract he signed back in 2001 with the Texas Rangers. And while Rodriguez's new contract will take care of the next ten generations of his family, why did he sign for so much? Is he that insecure about his ability? Or are the Steinbrenners that nervous that he'd jump to a rival? (And for the record, much of the Red Sox fan base hates Rodriguez with such a passion that it would have been a very risky move had the Sox tried to sign him.)
Signing for that much not only makes him look greedy beyond compare, it forever boxes him into a corner: if he screws up, he's a monstrously overpaid duffer. If he wins the MVP but fails in the postseason, he's a major letdown. And in the unlikely situation that the Yankees win the World Series despite his usual unfocused postseason performance, he's a deadweight. He's put himself in a no-win situation.
It's come out that Warren Buffett advised Rodriguez to sidestep his agent and approach the Yankees on his own. Now let's go back to my original thought. What if Rodriguez had gone down to Tampa, cap in hand, and asked for a symbolic salary of, say, $1?
I don't know how long Buffett talked to Rodriguez. But hopefully the idea of doing well versus doing good came up. If he had signed for a symbolic $1 salary, not only would he have become the ultimate Yankee and consummate international baseball diplomat overnight, Rodriguez would have set the press and the public on its ear, showing them that he was really playing for love of the game.
What is he playing for now?