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Alex Rodriguez Ends Yankees Career; The Latest In Rio Olympics

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Time now for sports.

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SIMON: Badminton, swimming, track and field. Badminton's an Olympic sport? Well, the Olympics go on in Rio. but last night in New York, a big name in baseball may have played his last game. Howard Bryant of ESPN was at that game and joins us now from New York. Howard, thanks for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: Alex Rodriguez - A-Rod, Stray-Rod, as the New York Post's headlines have called him for years, put on Yankee pinstripes for the last time. What did you notice at last night's game?

BRYANT: Well, I noticed that only Rod Serling was missing from the proceedings last night. It was completely bizarre. People say that Alex Rodriguez has spent his career under a cloud of suspicion. Well, it was somewhat hilarious - actually, very hilarious - the fact that last night, before his going away when the Yankees released him, a cloud hit and lightning struck. And it was biblical, in A-Rod's words, that his ceremony was cut short by rain. And only with A-Rod could you have something like this happen almost on cue. And so the ceremony didn't take place.

But it was a night of forgiveness, Scott, in a lot of ways because Alex Rodriguez had never really been a Yankee in the way that he was not homegrown and he had a very difficult time winning the World Series. In his first year, they blew a three-game lead to the dreaded Red Sox and didn't win that, and the Red Sox ended up winning the World Series. And so he's always had a complicated relationship with New York leading up to his release, where it was also bizarre that Alex Rodriguez did not retire.

He did not announce his retirement, and yet he was playing his last game as if he were retiring. And so it was all very, very strange. The bottom line, though, is that Alex Rodriguez is no longer a New York Yankee. Will he catch on with another team? We will find out. But his 12-year run with New York ended last night.

SIMON: Historic stats, but what's his legacy?

BRYANT: Titanic stats. And I think that is the legacy. You're watching the legacy of the steroid era play out with one person in that 696 home runs and nobody cares, 2,000 RBIs - only Hank Aaron has put up this kind of numbers or these kinds of numbers. And it's just unbelievable that we're talking about something other than a tremendous celebratory send-off. And it just shows you how much was lost. Anybody who wants to call you a moralist about drugs in baseball and sports in general didn't realize - I mean, wasn't here last night for this. It was just so sad, in a lot of ways, that this is the price of anabolic steroids and of drugs in the game.

SIMON: Now, we have a story on U.S. swim teams coming up in a few minutes, but let me just note last night, Katie Ledecky finished so far ahead in the 800 meters she was in Costa Rica.

BRYANT: (Laughter) Incredible.

SIMON: If you could see one or two events this weekend, they would be?

BRYANT: For me, obviously the track and field dominates. I'd like to see Michael Phelps in his final race. I don't think he has anything to prove, believe it or not. But I think that the - Usain Bolt - can anybody stop him? - is obviously the showstopper for the Olympics.

SIMON: He's my favorite Olympic athlete of all time. I love Usain Bolt. Howard Bryant of espn.com, ESPN The Magazine. Thanks as always.

BRYANT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.