10:50 am Dec. 13, 2012
It was with high hopes that the New York Red Bulls signed Mexican international Rafa Marquez back in the summer of 2010.
As it turned out, though, Marquez didn't give the team or its fans any cause to celebrate until this morning, when the Red Bulls announced that Marquez had been released.
Marquez had a year still remaining on his contract.
That Marquez failed to live up to his designated player contract, one that paid him $4.6 million per season, isn't the half of it.
Over two-plus seasons in New York, Marquez played in just 44 games. An array of injuries kept him out, but it was never clear what they were, exactly. Earlier this past season, he decided to just head to Mexico for a while, you know, for treatment.
And if the injured Marquez was frustrating, it was nothing compared to the on-field Marquez. He had this uncanny ability to make costly errors, usually ridiculous fouls that resulted in red cards, at the most significant times. Witness his suspension-inducing tantrum at the end of leg one of the Red Bulls' 2011 playoff showdown with David Beckham's Los Angeles Galaxy. Or his awful foul, and subsequent three-game suspension, at the start of the 2012 season.
Type "Rafa Marquez red" into a Youtube search. Top suggestion to complete this phrase isn't "Rafa Marquez Red Bulls," as in his now-former team. It is "Rafa Marquez red card."
He wasn't particularly self-aware, either. Marquez preferred to lash out at teammates over taking responsibility for his mistakes, calling a Tim Ream error "infantile" following a game late in 2011, something that also earned him a suspension. He returned from that suspension just in time to get suspended in the 2011 playoffs.
As if intent upon replaying his greatest hits in his final moments as a Red Bull, Marquez combined his prowess for injuries, dirty play and self-sabotage in the two legs of the Red Bulls' 2012 playoff loss to D.C. United.
In game one, Marquez bailed out of the match at halftime, complaining of a calf injury. And in game two, Marquez drew a yellow card for a tackle that easily could have been a red. Most players would tread lightly after that, but Marquez followed with a similarly idiotic tackle that eliminated what had been a man advantage for the Red Bulls.
It was entirely appropriate as a final moment for Marquez at Red Bull Arena, as was his seemingly happy press availability following the match, surrounded by utterly devastated players who'd lost, in large part, due to Marquez's awful play.
With Marquez's departure, the Red Bulls have another "designated player" slot open alongside Thierry Henry, whose tenure has been personally successful, and Tim Cahill, who will start his first full season in New York next year.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
The landmark basketball conference could cease to exist as early as Thursday afternoon.
The five-game losing streak is over, thanks to a 92-88 victory against the Toronto Raptors.
Former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni returns Thursday night to Madison Square Garden with his underachieving Lakers.
Premise: It is a problem for the Knicks that Amar'e Stoudemire is coming back.
There seems to be general agreement that the Yankees are no better than they were last season, when they finished with the American League's best record.
The Mets don't intend to give R.A. Dickey a no-trade clause, which could be as much of a problem in re-signing him as differences over money.