As ESPN's Andrew Marchand described the conversation he had Wednesday morning with Alex Rodriguez, a lot of topics were discussed, and somewhere along the way Rodriguez mentioned that he would retire after the 2017 season.
Which makes sense, because Rodriguez's contract with the Yankees runs out after that season, and he'll be 42 years old. As New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi mused later to reporters, it's almost like stating the obvious.
But it was evident by how this played out that Rodriguez wasn't trying to make some grand pronouncement, and this wasn't a case of a carefully targeted leak, something that Rodriguez practiced repeatedly in the ugly summer of 2013 before he was suspended from baseball for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
He was just being honest with Marchand in that moment, and, after his intention was reported, Rodriguez was apparently surprised by the response, scrambling to backtrack a little by the end of the day. He left open the possibility that he could play beyond 2017, writes Mark Feinsand.
Rodriguez has never been as careful in his conversations with reporters in the way that Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken was; the Orioles legend would sometimes respond to a journalist's question with a question of his own: "What's your angle?" Derek Jeter announced his retirement on Facebook without giving the Yankees any advance notice, lest there be any leaks, and he started a website for athletes to post stories and control the message.
Rodriguez, on the other hand, has stumbled with his words far more than Ripken or Jeter, steering into public relations potholes seemingly in his effort to please and to engender attention. But what happened Wednesday didn't seem to be about that, because a year ago or so -- only Rodriguez really knows the timing, given his exile from baseball in 2014 -- it was as if he stopped trying to sell himself.
He seemed to realize that so much has happened that he cannot ever change.