Issue: "Mel Gibson's passion," Feb. 28, 2004

Boston massacred

Reason 8,435 for Boston Red Sox fans to hate the New York Yankees: Where the Red Sox could find no way to find a deal to bring the game's best player to Boston, New York accomplished an Alex Rodriguez trade almost over a weekend. Always incendiary, baseball relations between New York and Boston have worsened: "Sky Is Falling," cried the Boston Herald; the Globe urged fans, "Stay Calm."

So desperate was Boston to acquire the Texas Rangers shortstop that the front office was ready to ship out the heart and soul of the team, Nomar Garciaparra. Boston was close: Had it not been for what Red Sox fans will almost certainly call "union interference," A-Rod would already be wearing red.

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Besides the apparent psychological effect on the Red Sox faithful, it's unclear exactly how much Mr. Rodriguez can bring to the Yankees that they don't have in abundance. The Yankees boast Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, and Hideki Matsui in the middle of a lineup that includes Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Kenny Lofton. Mr. Rodriguez could bring a defensive upgrade to the middle of the Yankees infield where Mr. Jeter is slowing down, but the Yankees have said Mr. Rodriguez will switch to third base, a position that has gobbled up more than a few transitioning shortstops. Ultimately, Mr. Rodriguez brings star-power, but the Yankees hardly need more of that. Then again, who else but A-Rod and George Steinbrenner could make baseball a front-page story in February?


There are so many ways to break down Alex Rodriguez's 10-year, $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers, the largest single contract in professional sports history. So strangled were the Rangers by the contract, they accepted Alfonso Soriano in return for the league's best player and reigning American League MVP. But the Rangers will also help the Yankees pay a hefty share of the remainder of Alex Rodriguez's contract.

Paid vs. promised

Nearly half of Mr. Rodriguez's salary for the past three years has been deferred.

What A-Rod has been paid: $37 million

What A-Rod has been promised: $215 million

Yankees vs. Rangers

Texas agreed to pick up $67 million worth of salary. That-coupled with what the Rangers have already paid the star as well as what they have deferred-means Texas will pay a lion's share of the A-Rod contract while receiving just three years of service.

Total amount Texas will pay: $140 million

Total amount New York will pay: $112 million

Who's paying what, and when

What Texas has already paid: $37 million

What Texas will pay A-Rod in pinstripes: $43 million

What Texas will pay A-Rod more than a decade from now (2016-2025): $60 million

What New York will pay: $112 million

Around the horn

This time John Daly made news by winning a tournament, not with extracurricular drinking, rehabbing, or divorcing. Although Mr. Daly's troubles are well chronicled, fans at the Buick Invitational cheered him as he notched his first PGA win in nine years. Tiger Woods, who made a late but futile charge at Mr. Daly, marveled at the accomplishment. "What he's done to his body on his own ... for him to get through all that and still succeed is pretty impressive."

Conflicting reports are arising from the Kobe Bryant camp: The embattled Lakers star guard has maintained he will opt out of his contract with L.A. this off-season and pursue free agency. Now, Mr. Bryant has said he intends to remain a Laker for life. In a bizarre twist, reports from Denver show the Nuggets would be interested in Mr. Bryant should he be exonerated in his Eagle, Colo., sexual-assault trial. Denver is one of only a handful of teams able to offer Kobe Bryant a large contract this off-season.

Usually a redeeming moment of the NBA's All-Star weekend, this year's dunk contest faltered when the two top dunkers both misfired in the finals. Indiana reserve Fred Jones won when judges ruled his missed dunk more stylish than the other.


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