This is a sad, sad day. There was a lot of speculation that Gallo would take number 13 with the Yankees since he wore it in Texas, but there was an elephant in the room with 696 career home runs: Alex Rodriguez.
A-Rod wore #13 with the Yankees during his entire tenure there, and nobody has worn it since he retired in 2016. It was starting to look like it was quasi-retired much like Paul O'Neill's No. 21 where it's not officially retired in Monument Park but also isn't given out. Now, I didn't want it to stay in limbo forever. A decision needed to be made eventually. But that decision should have been to make sure that Alex Rodriguez was the last man to ever wear number 13 in a Yankee uniform, and here's why.
First, let's just start with the numbers and where he ranks on career Yankee leaderboards.
Home runs: 6th
Total bases: 10th
Top 10 in a lot of meaningful offensive stats. And that's with only about 53% of his career plate appearances coming in a Yankee uniform. There are a lot of Yankees with retired numbers who don't even sniff those numbers.
Now let's talk hardware. As a Yankee, he won 2 MVPs, 3 silver sluggers, and was an All-Star 7 times. Oh and most importantly, he won a World Series. Sure, it's only one. Would've been great if he won more. And yes he had plenty of playoff failures early in his Yankee career. But the bottom line is the Yankees do not win the 2009 World Series without Alex Rodriguez. Anyone with a brain knows that. He carried them through the playoffs with big hit after big hit. Clutch home run after clutch home run. He got the monkey off his back in a BIG way. Without him, the Yankees would be in the middle of 20 season World Series draught.
Take a little trip down memory lane.
It's one of the most legendary playoff runs in Yankee history. And with the Yankees, October is when you earn your pinstripes. He did that.
Now look, obviously there are other reasons why the Yankees won't retire A-Rod's number: the steroids, the suspension, the whole suing the team thing, the many other controversies. But who amongst us hasn't had a bad day or two?
But being serious, yes, A-Rod was a lightning rod for controversy throughout his career. He made plenty of mistakes and could be just a real asshole at times. But he bounced back. All sarcasm aside, I think his redemption arc is one of the coolest sports stories of the decade.
When he got his year long suspension, the longest in baseball history, he was a pariah. The ultimate villain. The Yankees hated him. The league hated him. The fans hated him. His teammates probably hated him. But when he returned to baseball in 2015, he was a new man. This story about his year in purgatory is one of my favorite things I've ever read.
He came back like a completely different person. He was self-aware. He was honest. For once, he did and said all the right things. He seemed authentically remorseful for his mistakes and genuinely appreciative of the opportunity to play baseball again. You can say it was a charade, but it felt genuine. And if he's been able to put on that act for so long, then he deserves an Oscar.
He parlayed that return story into a career in broadcasting. Imagine telling A-Rod in 2014 as he served his year-long suspension that he'd one day be in the fucking Sunday Night Baseball booth for God's sakes? Oh, and he also a little podcast called "The Corp" here at Barstool.
Not to sound too cheesy and cliche here, but people do genuinely make mistakes. A-Rod made a LOT of them. But I've always found that humanizing about him. While Derek Jeter was this perfect angel that could never do any wrong, A-Rod felt more relatable. He fell time and time again, but he picked himself back up. Nobody's perfect!
Also, he does deserve credit for how he handled his retirement. The Yankees basically forced him to retire in August 2016 as he was having just a dreadful season, and he handled it well. He still had another year left on his contract and could've stayed on trying to chase 700 home runs and Babe Ruth's 714, but he didn't clog up a roster spot. And he didn't want to go to another team because he said retiring as a Yankee was important to him, instead choosing to take a role in the front office.
There's rumors that the relationship has soured since then, which is why he no longer has a role with the team, but we don't know the truth behind that. What we do know is he handled the retirement extremely well and deserves credit for that.
I've always been a huge A-Rod superfan, so maybe I'm biased. But I genuinely think a very strong case can be made for retiring his number for all the reasons I listed above.
I know the Yankees can't retire every number, and they shouldn't. But A-Rod isn't just any ole player. He's one of the greatest baseball players of all-time who had a lot of big moments in a Yankee uniform. The Yankees are an incredibly storied franchise. And I genuinely don't think you can tell the story of the New York Yankees without telling the story of Alex Rodriguez.
Hopefully he'll at least get a plaque in Monument Park.
PS: I don't blame Joey Gallo for taking the number. Won't hold ill will towards him. This is on the Yankees organization.
Double PS: No, I'm not only writing this because I one day want to go partying with him in Miami and become best friends.