TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez has said he never wants to be a major league manager, but he has said a lot of things and then ended up doing them.
So when New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner says he envisions the newly minted adviser eventually taking on an expanded role in the organization, the idea that A-Rod will one day be the manager of the team shouldn't be ruled out.
In fact, while it probably won't happen soon, it's easy to imagine a plausible case for it.
Let's start with the most important part of being hired -- the person doing the hiring has to like you a lot. Hal loves him some A-Rod.
The owner of the Yankees gushes when talking about Rodriguez. Steinbrenner already has said that he could not think of anyone in the area who would be better to work with the team's young shortstops. It may not have been a deliberate swipe at Derek Jeter, but St. Jetersburg is 22 minutes from Steinbrenner Field.
Meanwhile, A-Rod owes his current rebuilt life to Steinbrenner. If Steinbrenner had just cut A-Rod after the Biogenesis scandal, there would have been no 33 homers in 2015, no redemption tour, no Fox TV gig. A-Rod probably would have remained a permanent PED pariah. So if Hal were to ask A-Rod to do anything in the future, A-Rod would be ungrateful -- never mind foolish -- not to consider it thoroughly.
With Steinbrenner repeatedly and firmly setting aside any rumors he and his family would ever sell the Yankees, it seems as if Steinbrenner, 47, plans on growing old with the franchise. A-Rod is 41. There is a lot of time to make this happen.
On Wednesday, I asked Steinbrenner for the criteria he uses to evaluate a manager. He gave three traits:
1. Working well with both young players and veterans
3. The ability to handle New York
Check. Check. Check. Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez meets all three marks.
On No. 1, Rodriguez loves to teach youngsters and, when it comes to veterans, he enjoys discussing the intricacies of the game. On No. 2, Rodriguez is very smart when it comes to baseball, a true student of the game. On No. 3, who has been through more and somehow, some way, made it out the other side in the Big Apple than A-Rod?
The players would love him. The fans -- if he won -- would love him. The media would love him. That's the Triple Crown.
Why would A-Rod want to do it? Well, let's start with the list of reasons he wouldn't want to, which begins with the nearly half a billion dollars he has made as a player. Unless he has been unbelievably frivolous, there should not be a Rodriguez family member in dire need of money for generations. Most people work for the money. So that is one strike against taking the job.
Baseball is also a grind. It begins in February and, these days, ends in November. It is nearly every day. You have to really want to do it to succeed. That could be strike two.
Strike three? There is no strike three.
Yes, Rodriguez has his TV analyst career going and is starting a new reality show in which he is apparently going to offer athletes advice on how to be financially healthy. (Rule 1: Make nearly half a billion dollars as a player.)
Television careers, though, come and go. A-Rod may have staying power, but things change -- network executives always want to get younger talent, and ratings fall. What TV doesn't offer, too, is a chance to win and lose a World Series title.
When players leave the game, the two things they generally miss the most are the camaraderie and the competition. Rodriguez could rekindle both as manager.
Much of Rodriguez's success and failure as a player was a result of his endless desire to be the best. It was draining and led to some inexplicably stupid decisions. But there is a reason Rodriguez is so good as a TV analyst. Talking about baseball is when A-Rod sounds the most, well, normal. He is a different sort of cat, but when he is discussing baseball, A-Rod speaks like someone with a Ph.D.
Joe Girardi's contract is up after this season; the bet is that Girardi returns in 2018. It's no guarantee, but it's the likely scenario. Girardi could be signed up for another four years. So A-Rod-as-Yankees-manager is a long game.
With an owner who loves him, a game he loves and a spotlight he has always found irresistible, A-Rod managing the Yankees one day is anything but unfathomable.
His public-relations comeback is already legendary. Becoming the Yankees' manager would be the topper.