NEW YORK (AP) _ Alex Rodriguez couldn't believe what was happening. He thought the New York Yankees didn't want him. In revealing details of what led to him opting out of his contract with the Yankees, and of his subsequent phone call to Hank and Hal Steinbrenner to revive his career in pinstripes, Rodriguez criticized agent Scott Boras for misleading him.
``The whole thing was a mistake. It was a huge debacle,'' A-Rod said Thursday after finalizing his $275 million, 10-year contract. ``For me it was very stressful. It was a very humbling experience. I knew what I wanted from Day 1. The mistake I made is that I should have called Hank and Hal from the get-go and I didn't do that. And I blame me.''
A-Rod's deal, which allows him to earn as much as $305 million, broke the previous baseball record _ set by his $252 million, 10-year contract with Texas in December 2000. Traded to the Yankees in 2004, he opted out of that deal Oct. 28, during the final game of the World Series.
``I was 100 percent sure, pretty much, from the information I was getting that the Yankees didn't have any interest in my services,'' he said. ``The whole thing didn't feel right. ... I always thought that the negotiation would be simple and it wasn't going to take a lot of time. So when I was getting that information, to me, yeah, that was very surprising and upsetting. And it was actually hurtful.''
After the opt out was announced, Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner said New York would not negotiate further with Rodriguez because his decision eliminated the $21.3 million subsidy the Yankees were to receive from Texas from 2008-10, a figure negotiated at the time of his trade.
But Rodriguez then approached the Yankees through a managing director at Goldman Sachs and negotiated his new deal in early November without Boras.
``When I realized that our goals were not aligned, that's when I had to step in and get my voice heard and call Hank and Hal and tell them how I felt,'' Rodriguez said. ``I needed to express to Hank how important the Yankees were to me, and how privileged I felt about wearing the uniform and how badly I wanted to stay in New York and finish my career in New York and become a world champion in New York with our team. ... I'm glad I made that phone call or else I wouldn't be here today.''
Officials in the commissioner's office were livid about the timing of A-Rod's announcement to opt out, and Boras apologized.
``That was handled extremely poorly,'' Rodriguez said. ``It was my understanding that the letter wouldn't go public until a day or two after the World Series concluded. And the whole thing was done distasteful and very inappropriate.''
A-Rod said he told Boras how he felt.
``I was very angry about the whole situation,'' he said. ``I was very upset, and, you know, I voiced that to him. The one time we spoke I conveyed that message.''
Boras declined comment. A-Rod said he decided to keep Boras as his agent because he likely had negotiated his last contract
``I made mistakes. I mean, Scott works for me,'' Rodriguez said. ``So at the end of the day, when it comes to the World Series, when it comes to opting out, when it comes to all the big mistakes, I've got to look in the mirror, you know, and I take that bullet. If I had to do it again, I would have called Hank from Day 1 and negotiated the contract myself.''
Once he approached the Yankees directly, the agreement came quickly.
``Within two conversations, we got a deal done,'' A-Rod said. ``It was a simple negotiation.''
The 32-year-old Rodriguez won his third AL Most Valuable Player award last month after hitting .314 with 54 homers and 156 RBIs. But he's frequently been a target for boo birds at Yankee Stadium _ due in large part to his postseason struggles.
A-Rod went 4-for-15 (.267) with one RBI during New York's first-round playoff loss to Cleveland and is in an 8-for-59 (.136) postseason funk dating to 2004.
An 11-time All-Star, A-Rod gets a $10 million signing bonus, of which $2 million is payable upon approval by the commissioner's office, $1 million each Jan. 15 from 2009-13 and $3 million on Jan. 15, 2014.
Rodriguez receives salaries of $27 million next year, $32 million in 2009 and 2010, $31 million in 2011, $29 million in 2012, $28 million in 2013, $25 million in 2014, $21 million in 2015 and $20 million in each of the final two years.
His $32 million salaries in 2009 and 2010 will be the largest for one season in major league history. His new contract allows A-Rod to earn $30 million more for achieving historic milestones. He is 18th on the career list with 518 homers, 244 shy of Barry Bonds' record.
Under the deal he opted out of, A-Rod earned $185.45 million over seven years.
His new agreement was announced three hours before George Mitchell's report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball was released.
``What's going on right now is very unfortunate,'' Rodriguez said. ``I think our game is going to rebound.''