A Perfect Match
God bless A-Rod for finally treating the Yankees exactly like the Yankees have treated the rest of Major League Baseball for the last 10 years. I have to admit, I was angry during Game 4 of the World Series, when Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and Ken Rosenthal talked about A-Rod ad nauseam during the seventh and eighth innings of a clinching World Series game, but I was angrier that A-Rod had left New York than I was at the fact they wouldn’t stop talking about it. I mean, I realize there was no way A-Rod was going to stay, but A-Rod and the Yankees were a match made in heaven.
A-Rod lit a fuse under Yankees fans before he played a single game here, providing Yankees fans with the sort of dualism they’re not used to in the “Yankees way or the highway” atmosphere that prevails in the Bronx. The Yankees and their fans were clearly pleased with themselves for stealing A-Rod from under Boston’s nose, but they immediately began with the “A-Rod’s not a real Yankee” invectives, as if being a real Yankee involves anything more than pulling on the uniform. A-Rod’s aloofness in the face of this situation only exacerbated it, and the Yankees did very little to diffuse it while dude won two MVP awards for them. The Yankees wanted a little bit more, a little bit more. This year, A-Rod blew the roof off the building, but no one man can carry a baseball team to a playoff series victory (unless that man’s name is Josh Beckett or Jack Morris), and the Yankees fell to Cleveland. A-Rod and his agent, Scott Boras, mercenaries they are, decided that they wanted a little bit more from the Yankees and dropped the bomb on them in the hour of their greatest suffering — watching the Red Sox clinch the World Series title.
As I said yesterday, there’s nothing lonelier than being a Yankees fan, and the A-Rod situation is a glaring example of this. The reaction to the news was predictable. New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro blared that it was “always about A-Rod,” as if the years of the Yankees disposing underperforming players was about anything but the Yankees, who often humiliated them on the way out of town — if they waited that long. George Steinbrenner cracked that he was going to donate cartons of Hideki Irabu T-shirts to the Little Sisters of the Blind after an Irabu loss. That’s classy. Steinbrenner’s son, Hank, blasted A-Rod yesterday for not being comfortable with their contract demands, arguing that the Yankees’ unilateral negotiating tactics were justified because of the “privilege of playing for the Yankees” that such tactics entailed. It’s a lonely world. A-Rod said thanks but no thanks, opting to go examine the high-salary market that the Yankees virtually created.
That’s the irony here: the aloof, highly-paid, franchise-unbeholden star
is a New York Yankees creation, the weapon the Yankees have unsuccessfully tried to parlay into championships in the last seven years. When Jason Giambi came to the Yankees, the franchise invented some cockameemie back story about how it was his lifelong dream to play here, even while they were dumping loads of cash onto his front door. I have no problem with money in baseball, as it obviously cannot buy you a championship (though it can go a long way), and that’s why I loved A-Rod on the Yankees: you couldn’t have drafted a better script. The best player ever can’t get it done for the best team ever, and instead of that being a tribute to the dynamism of baseball, it becomes a pissing contest among brats who both just want a little bit more, a little bit more. It’s too bad the fun had to end. It was a perfect match.