Steinbrenner would have issued a public apology

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“I’ve never thought about going to another team. My focus is to stay here. Let’s make that very, very clear,” he said. “Number two, I don’t expect to be mediocre. I expect to do what I’ve done for a long time.”

Yankees president Randy Levine joked in April with Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria about the possibility of dealing A-Rod to his hometown team.

“Take him. Tell me what you’re willing to do,” Levine said before the pair laughed.

After this debacle, talk could turn serious. The Yankees likely would have to eat 50 to 75 percent of what Rodriguez is due, but they may focus on the millions saved rather than the millions spent.

Back in 1981, after the Yankees took a 2-0 Series lead against the Los Angeles Dodgers and lost four in a row, George Steinbrenner issued one of his most famous statements, saying: `’I want to sincerely apologize to the people of New York and to the fans of the New York Yankees everywhere for the performance of the Yankee team.”

Hal Steinbrenner, who succeeded his father as controlling owner, is less impetuous. He wants to get the team under the $189 million luxury tax threshold in 2014.

Sending one of their lineup’s senior citizens to finish his career in Florida would be a start.

Proud of his accomplishments and in constant need of admiration, Rodriguez may hold his postseason putdown against manager Joe Girardi.

“As far as I know, we’re OK,” Girardi said. “It’s not something I wanted to do. All of you know that. But I don’t have any signals that he’s mad at me.”

A-Rod, as always, tried to say the right thing.

“If I do what I’m supposed to be doing, neither Joe or Cashman can bench me,” he explained.

His stay in New York always was a marriage of money.

After giving A-Rod a record $252 million contract, Texas traded him to the Yankees after three seasons and even agreed to pay $67 million of the $179 million remaining _ an amount reduced by $21 million when A-Rod opted out of that deal following the 2007 season. Then the Yankees re-signed him to an even more massive megadeal, as much a weight on their payroll as his bat has become in the batting order.

After failing to win the World Series for the third straight year, there will be a slew of decisions. Exercising $15 million options on Cano and Granderson are a given, as is signing Rivera for 2013. They’ll likely try to persuade Pettitte to pitch another year and attempt to re-sign Kuroda and possibly Ichiro Suzuki, whose bat was among the few with a sign of life.

Swisher seems set to depart and Ibanez could be one older player too many. Rafael Soriano, who filled in for Rivera, could turn down a $14 million salary for next year, terminate his contract and become a free agent.

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