Enough with the '24-plus-one' for A-Rod

If Alex Rodriguez stays with the Yankees, Joe Girardi shouldn't give him any special treatment. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It was a very thoughtful gesture of Joe Girardi to call up to the press box to spare Alex Rodriguez the embarrassment of having his name announced over the loudspeakers when Raul Ibanez pinch hit for him in the ALDS.

It was nice, but it didn't do A-Rod any favors.

First off, it wasn’t as if anyone would fail to notice that Rodriguez was not batting. For goodness' sake, when the guy goes to Starbucks, cameras click.

Second, now that it is out, it further highlights how the Yankees -- even in the height of the postseason -- were trying to massage A-Rod’s feelings when the focus should be on the team not on one player.

A-Rod is going to be booed. It is a tax for all the money he is paid.

A half-billion-dollar ballplayer will never appease everyone. The money means the expectation is perfection.

So two MVPs, and one of the great Octobers in the history of the game, are overshadowed by his failures in the clutch. Still, Rodriguez has been a great performer as a Yankee.

Far from perfect, but great.

Now, from here on out, Girardi should certainly treat A-Rod with dignity, but special arrangements -- “24-plus-one stuff” -- have been the problem for Rodriguez ever since he left Seattle to pick up his first quarter of a billion dollars. They need to stop.

During that transaction process, Mets ownership, with Steve Phillips as the front man, said A-Rod wanted private jets, an office and big billboards, really beginning the transition from golden boy to villain.

Rodriguez ended up signing with the Rangers and got all the perks that went with it, including a direct line to the owner’s box. That didn’t work for the team or the player.

With the Yankees, Rodriguez made sacrifices. To flee Texas, he moved to third from short, but the thaw with Derek Jeter remained.

If A-Rod couldn’t own New York for himself, he desperately wanted to be a dynamic duo with the captain. The frostiness of the relationship and a clubhouse divided eventually affected even the courting of CC Sabathia in free agency. Sabathia was worried about entering such an environment.

So now, through the rockiness of his stay in the Bronx, if A-Rod is not traded, the Yankees will have to figure out how to treat him. He probably can’t win the fans over. He couldn’t with MVPs and one all-time October, so a diminished, 37-year-old player doesn’t figure to suddenly become a favorite of the Bleacher Creatures.

If A-Rod wants to stay, the Yankees should take off the kid gloves. It was a nice thought from Girardi, but in New York, these things often become public. Now, it just makes A-Rod look fragile and weak.

The Yankees need to treat A-Rod like any of the 25.

Girardi is always respectful to his players, and, of course, that should continue with Rodriguez.

But there are no shields with A-Rod’s accomplishments and demerits. For it somehow to work, the expectations need to be lowered. That starts by withholding any more special treatment.

A-Rod must finally -- and for always -- shed the “24-plus-one” label. For him to do that, Girardi can’t be so nice.