Now, whenever A-Rod and anything associated with Yankees are mentioned in the same sentence, darkness comes to mind. So do strikeouts, along with a lack of power, non-clutch hitting, a slew of off-the-field controversies and booing.
Lot and lots of booing.
That booing hasn't engulfed Rodriguez yet -- not the unrelenting kind I'm talking about. After all, even though he has spent his last five years with the Yankees sliding at the plate from greatness to goodness to wherever he stands now, he hasn't looked as much of a bull's-eye as he does now to so many folks who worship pinstripes.
He can't hit right-handed pitching anymore. He can't hit anymore, period, when the Yankees need him the most. As a result, he was benched three times during the playoffs by Yankees manager Joe Girardi along the Yankees' way to being swept out of the American League Championship Series by the Detroit Tigers.
Worse, the gossip mill that always surrounds Rodriguez is churning at full steam these days. The New York Post reported that, after Rodriguez was removed for a pinch-hitter at Yankee Stadium in Game 1 of the ALCS, he killed time by flirting with two women near the home dugout.
Yankees officials said the latest A-Rod gossip had nothing to do with his benching, but they were tight-lipped after that.
Rodriguez responded more thoroughly.
Then again, he had no choice.
"There's tons of distractions. There are a lot of wedges trying to be drawn between [me and Girardi], and it's not going to happen," Rodriguez told reporters in Detroit, where the ALCS ended on Thursday. "I love the Yankees. I love this organization ... [I'm not going to allow] all of this negativity, questions and gossip stuff ...
"There's blood in the water. When you don't play well, [and] I haven't played well. Some of the criticism -- I've been here nine years, I can take that. But that other stuff, gossip, I don't [care] about that."
Sounds like Rodriguez is taking the high road, but if he returns to the Yankees next season, he'll need to take a freeway beyond the moon and the sun to escape the wrath of Yankees fans. He'll experience booing in that scenario, all right. And we're talking about the kind of booing that is so vicious from Yankees fans toward a particular target that it evolves into something more piercing.
Ever hear of the Bronx Cheer? Well, if Yankees officials lose their minds and keep Rodriguez, he will get that "cheer" and its counterpart from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and Yankee Universe in general.
All of this would accelerate the decline of a 37-year-old third baseman who is adding to his unpopularity among Yankees fans by his inability to stay healthy. Which means, with the Yankees losing their previous dominance, Rodriguez has to go, and the Yankees ownership has to make it happen without regard to that other stuff.
Like the money thing, for instance.
The money is the only thing that could keep Rodriguez around for a 10th season with the Yankees, which means the money thing isn't really a valid thing in their case.
If anybody in the Major Leagues can swallow a large portion of an obese contract with five years and $114 million left on its original $275 million over 10 years, it's the Yankees. According to Forbes magazine, they are in a third-place tie with the Dallas Cowboys as the world's most valuable sports franchise.
So the Rodriguez trade rumors to the Miami Marlins make sense.
Actually, any trade involving anybody who might want Rodriguez should make sense.
As for the Marlins, Rodriguez grew up in Miami, where he owns a home. He contemplated staying there, after the Seattle Mariners drafted him in 1993, to play baseball for the University of Miami Hurricanes when he wasn't quarterbacking their football team.
Going to the Marlins would be an A-Rod homecoming.
That's how Marlins officials could bill it, because they need to do something to counter how they rolled the dice before this season by acquiring Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell and came up snake eyes -- as in the eyes of a boa constrictor. That's because the new Marlins were strangled early and often, despite their new trio joining new manager Ozzie Guillen, the arrival of other new players such as Carlos Zambrano and the energy of their new uniforms and new stadium.
The Marlins lost 93 games and finished last in the National League East.
Would Rodriguez help the Marlins win? Who knows? But it's worth a shot, especially since neither the Yankees nor the Marlins have much to lose -- except a few bucks.
The Marlins have their poor man's version of Rodriguez in Bell. Earlier this year, Bell was benched after a highly ineffective stretch of non-relief despite three consecutive trips to the All-Star Game with the San Diego Padres the previous three seasons. He is owed $18 million by the Marlins over the next two years.
That said, The Palm Beach Post reported this week that the Marlins were willing to ship Bell to the Yankees, who would need a closer if Mariano Rivera doesn't fully recover from a torn ACL and Rafael Soriano exercises his opt-out clause to sign elsewhere. With the Statue of Liberty nearby, Bell could prosper again, and around South Beach, Rodriguez could become at least a reasonable facsimile of the guy with 647 career home runs and a lifetime batting average of .300 despite all of his slumping of late.
If it doesn't work for Rodriguez in Miami, he could just retire.
Come to think of it, he could do that now.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.