By most accounts, Alex Rodriguez loved San Francisco when his New York Yankees came calling on the Giants in late June. And he loved it even more during his All-Star stay.

By some accounts, Barry Bonds will have exhausted his usefulness to the Giants by the end of this season. Should that turn out to be the case, the Giants could find themselves in the market for an iconic face-of-the-franchise type player to fill the hole Bonds leaves behind.

Thursday came the news from agent Scott Boras that Rodriguez, who can opt out of his quarter-billion-dollar contract at season's end, has no interest in discussing an extension with the Yankees during the 2007 season.

And there you have the three ingredients needed for any half-baked debate -- third-hand observation, fanciful speculation and a carnival barker's word of honor.

You know what comes next, because you understand how baseless yammering can be mistaken for dead reckoning. The upcoming headlines to which we all can look forward, in order of appearance:

"A-Rod to Giants?"

"Giants interested in A-Rod?"

"Boras: 'Anything's possible'"

"Yankees: 'Well, fine then'"

"A-Rod: 'I (heart) NY'"

"Boras: 'Anything's possible'"

"Yankees make A-Rod an offer"

"Giants lower sights, target Galarraga"

"A-Rod spotted in North Beach with mystery woman"

"Secret Giants' offer to A-Rod reported"

"Bonds: 'Well, fine then'"

"Bonds spotted on Alcatraz with A-Rod"

"Bonds: 'It wasn't me, it was Sweeney'"

"Boras: 'Anything's possible'"

This isn't to say that any of the above will have merit.


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Some might. Some might be based on a version of the truth. Some might be phrased in the form of a trial balloon. And some may grow up to be self-fulfilling prophecy.

Thus, you'll want to approach this unfolding drama with fresh batteries in your Hooey Meter.

For one thing, the Giants cutting ties with Bonds -- using a Sawzall, with notaries and EMTs present -- is the kind of thing that will have to be seen to be believed. While Bonds likely will break Henry Aaron's career home run record this season, he'll almost certainly fall a few hits short of 3,000.

He's going to want to come back. The next time managing partner Peter Magowan says no to such a request will be the first.

For another, even if Bonds is cut adrift, there's no guarantee the Giants will be interested in perpetuating their team schematic in which 24 bit players orbit around a favorite son. Maybe they'll want to try it the A's way, in which no one player stands above the rest, and in which those in line for a massive payday are wished well, shown the door with no hard feelings and replaced by ...

That noise would be your Hooey Meter sounding the alarm. Fact is, the idea of the Giants replacing one face-of-the-franchise type with another is entirely plausible. But we had to at least pitch the counter-argument to satisfy the lads in Standards and Practices.

Finally, this is a Boras-orchestrated opus. The last time Rodriguez hit the open market, Boras conned the Texas Rangers into bidding double the next-highest offer. It is that deal which Rodriguez can opt out of after this season. No matter what happens, Boras is certain his client will earn north of $30 million in each of the next two seasons.

Which is why it is highly recommended that the Giants run from this scenario however it plays out. Not that Rodriguez is a slug as a player. It's entirely possible he could succeed Bonds as baseball's home run king. And the power game is only a part of the A-Rod portfolio.

On the other hand, Rodriguez comes with some of the same warning labels that were affixed to Bonds. Not a great teammate. Too self-aware. Giving off a vague feeling of insincerity. Chokes in the clutch (a handle Bonds ditched in the 2002 postseason).

More to the point, there's this business of the salary. Not that $30 million for a season of baseball is a ruinous proposition. Some owner will pay it because he has it to pay. Rather, it's the idea of one man earning more than any three other members of the team combined -- even a team with Barry Zito on board.

It sets up a class system that runs antithetical to the concept of team. It makes one man the guy everybody has to please, the guy who gets two dozen "bless yous" every time he sneezes, the guy whose physiological clock ticks louder than everyone else's, the man whose window of opportunity causes the organization to act imprudently.

It's not the way to go, though you're sure to read otherwise.

"Giants to A-Rod: 'What if we throw in Coit Tower?'"

You laugh now.

Contact Gary Peterson at gpeterson@cctimes.com.