DALLAS _ When Alex Rodriguez stepped to the microphone last week, sleet was just beginning to fall outside the Ballpark in Arlington. This wasn't quite like the ice storm that caused Joe Montana to suffer hypothermia at the 1979 Cotton Bowl, but i nevertheless was a new weather event for Rodriguez, a Miami native who worships the sun.
The freezing weather didn't matter. Rodriguez's name already was on a $252 million contract to spend the next 10 years _ although seven is a better bet _ with the Texas Rangers. But it seemed a bad omen for Rodriguez, who had found the Dallas-Fort Worth area bathed in sunshine and 70-degree temperatures when he paid a recruiting trip two weeks earlier.
"This is what Dallas is really like, dude," said a talk-show host on KTCK radio, Dallas' all-sports station. Said another, "No takebacks."
There will be no second chances in bidding for baseball's ultimate free agent, at least not until after the 2007 season. That's three years before the contract is scheduled to end. But owner Tom Hicks agreed to a unilateral right for free agency after seven seasons, and you can be sure agent Scott Boras will shop Rodriguez once again. That's an intriguing possibility.
As the background behind Rodriguez's agreement became better known, baseball executives everywhere were shaking their heads about how Boras had gotten $25.2 million per year from Hicks with no other team strongly pursuing Rodriguez. The White Sox arguably finished second, and they never got a chance to make their formal bid.
The White Sox's serious interest in Rodriguez materialized too late. Chairman Jerry …