Thursday, November 15, 2007

And Are We Just Supposed to Forgive? Maybe

So, A-Rod threw himself on the mercy of the court. Or, to use another analogy, came in sackcloth and ashes. And we Yankee Fans are just supposed to forgive, simply because he’s one of the greatest players of all time?

There is precedent, though:

June 1925: Babe Ruth is a fat, overpaid bum who ate his way out of the lineup. September 1927: The Babe hits a record 60 homers and is the greatest player who ever lived.

April 1938: Joe DiMaggio is an ungrateful smart-aleck kid who should be thankful he has a job in this time of Depression, instead of holding out against the greatest of all baseball teams. October 1939: The Yankee Clipper is the MVP and everybody loves him.

October 1955: Mickey Mantle is a moody kid who strikes out too much, gets hurt too much, and dodged the draft in the Korean War. (He was actually 4-F, but some people thought he, or the Yankees, had gotten a doctor to “fix” that.) October 1956: The Mick wins the Triple Crown, the MVP, and his homer wins Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game, and he becomes the most popular player in baseball.

September 1961: Roger Maris is a surly guy and a .270 hitter who doesn’t deserve to break the record of the great Babe Ruth. October 1961: The Rajah hits Number 61 and gets a standing ovation.

June 1977: Reggie Jackson is a hot-dogging, egotistical, disruptive influence who is publicly questioning his manager and should be traded. October 1977: Boom, boom, boom, and a lot of baby boys, and a few baby girls, are soon named “Reggie.”

November 1995: The new manager is "Clueless Joe." October 1996: The new manager is Saint Joseph of Sheepshead Bay.

April 1996: How dare Tino Martinez, this outsider from Seattle, replace the great Don Mattingly? October 1996: Oh, that’s how, by winning a Pennant and a World Series, which Mattingly never did.

September 1998: Roger Clemens is a headhunting punk. October 1999: The Rocket wins the clinching game of the World Series and we cheer him.

I can’t do one of these for Alex Rodriguez, because it would require several entries, his approval rating going up and down like a yo-yo.

My first choice would still be to see him go, because he is still, fairly or not, a convenient symbol for the Yankees not winning the Pennant in each of these last four seasons.

But maybe he is showing that winning and being a Yankee are more important to him than money and Scott Boras are. I’m staying tuned…

But Hank Steinbrenner did the right thing. He said, “We don’t want anybody who doesn’t want to be a Yankee,” and A-Rod, by coming with hat in hand and Boras nowhere to be found, said, for all intents and purposes, “Wahhhh! I wanna be a Yankee! Please, sir, I want some more! I’ll even take less money for it! Please, gimme one more chance in Pinstripes!”

I’m reminded of the end of the Eagles’ song “Hotel California” – appropriate, since it seemed that’s where he was headed: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”

But I’m also reminded of a Temptations song, which could be sung by A-Rod to the World Series trophy: “Unimportant are all the things I can do, 'cause I can't get next to you! No matter what I do!”

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