Editor’s Note: This article appeared as part of our April’s Fools issue.
In an unprecedented deal, the New York Yankees dealt newly acquired third baseman Alex Rodriguez to UCSB for two 2005 first round, rule five draft picks and one player to be named later.
The 2003 American League MVP was dealt by Yankee owner George Steinbrenner after a sub-par performance in his first two games in which he reached base just once in nine at-bats.
“Alex was a great player for us, but we needed to go in a different direction,” Steinbrenner said. “After the first loss to Tampa Bay, it was clear to us that we needed to rebuild. That’s where UCSB comes in.”
UCSB Baseball Head Coach Bob Brontsema was thrilled to get the deal done, but now he must find a place for Rodriguez in an already stacked Gaucho infield.
“It’s one of those decisions a coach loves to have,” Brontsema said, referring to the competition between Rodriguez and freshman shortstop Chris Valaika for the starting spot. “There is also the possibility of putting Alex at third, but senior infielder Nate Sutton has been playing solid baseball for us.”
Skeptics of the trade have noted that A-Rod, who would have been in line to make a hefty $22 million this year, is not eligible to play amateur collegiate sports as he has already played professionally for nine years.
“That’s just something we’ll have to worry about later,” Rodriguez said. “The media is going to say what it wants to say, and that’s something I really have no control over. Right now I’m just trying to focus on helping the Gauchos get to the regionals.”
The Gauchos are currently riding a six-game winning streak and some players on the team have expressed concern about what the trade will do to the chemistry of the team. Not only will the Gauchos eventually lose one of its players to the Yankees, Gaucho players have also heard rumors that Rodriguez is relatively cold in the clubhouse.
“Rodriguez is a great player, but I’m not sure this team will be able to handle an ego like his,” junior right fielder Matt Wilkerson said.
The deal also involved a clause stating Rodriguez will be able to travel by way of his own leer jet and take “easy classes in the Communication Dept.”
Rodriguez, a career .298 hitter, will also have to adjust to the collegiate game and drop the wooden bat he had so much success with as a Major Leaguer. The college game requires all teams to use aluminum bats.
“I’ve really gotten used to hearing an (onomatopoeia wood against ball sound),” Rodriguez said, clicking his tongue to imitate the sound of a wood bat hitting a ball. “I took batting practice today with a metal bat, and hearing the ‘ding’ sound again kind of tripped me out.”