"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, The Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) --
Alex Rodriguez sporting number 13 and playing third base for the Yankees. Those of us that have had pinstripes tattooed on our minds and bodies for centuries love it. The rest, who have always resented and hated the Bronx Bombers are fuming and still using that tired phrase, "The best team money can buy." They conveniently forget that when the New Yorkers come to town, any town, there is not an empty seat in the house and guess who gets the lion's share of those dollars? No one seems to complain then.
|Alex Rodriguez works out in the batting cages at the Yankees spring training complex in Tampa, Florida. Born in New York City, A-Rod will seek to earn the elusive World Series ring this fall.|
There is never a doubt about being in the playoffs, usually winning the American League pennant and heading to the World Series. It becomes, like it or not, customary and expected. Not go to the big dance and there is disappointment in New York, coursing through the Bronx like the Mississippi on a flood rampage. How many other fans can say that and have that annual pressure, like hitting your knee or elbow when it hurts so much you have to laugh while writhing in pain. The rest of the sport just wants to win. In the Big Apple, there is despair and disappointment if Yankee fans are forced to settle for anything less than a world title. Rage, anguish, defeat, frustration, pain and a bitter pill to swallow.
Red Sox president and self-appointed Yankee hater, he of the "Evil Empire" condemnation, Larry Lucchino, called Bud Selig and his corporate bodyguards over and over, so we are told, to nullify the trade. Hmmmm, wonder what he was thinking when he went after A-Rod? Or, what sort of complaints are being lodged now that every game with the Yankees is a likely standing-room-only sellout? If George Steinbrenner has the vision and dollars to buy the best talent he can, and a desire to win championships, while filling one ballpark after another when the pinstripers come to town tell me, in someone's infinite wisdom, what is wrong with that. And, is it not the American way to produce the best product you can?
Or, does General Motors call Ford, who then contacts Chrysler who, in turn, has a meeting with BMW, Toyota and Honda to make sure that no one is really producing a product better than what the others have planned for introduction later this year?
The NFL has focused on parity and they have it. Mediocrity. New England rose above it all in recent years but look at everyone else.
Whether you want New York to win or lose, you watch. You root. You clamor for more and you are taken by the talent that unfolds with every game. If Lucchino is still licking his wounds over Jose Contreras, then so be it. A $200 million payroll. That is what is estimated for Steinbrenner & Co. right now. How about $80 million or so in luxury tax and revenue sharing? Now tell me about competitive balance.
|Alex Rodriguez talks with teammate Derek Jeter (L) and coach Luis Sojo (R) during practice at the Yankees spring training complex.|
Rodriguez at third. Gotta love it. Derek Jeter nice and relaxed without the pressure that many are thinking will come his way. Au contraire, mon ami. Put yourself there, in Derek's place. More confidence than ever before, loose as a goose, laid back, the guy to your right your friend and not your competition, with as professional and easygoing an attitude as possible on and off the field. Championship in the cross threads of Steinbrenner's gun? You bet. Disappointment without a World Series ring this year? Count on it. End of the world? Close.
Gary Sheffield, Kevin Brown, Javier Vazquez, Kenny Lofton, Tom Gordon, Orlando ("El Duque") Hernandez about to return, with Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens looking forlornly at the map and wondering if they acted too soon.
Remember, 30 teams had the chance to get Rodriguez and the majority chose to leave the building. Funny how no one grumbles, growls or bitches when the Yankees write a $60-80 million check for revenue sharing and it gets distributed. Being in New York is an advantage, no doubt about it. So is being in L.A. for the Lakers and Manchester for Manchester United.
Is this Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris revisited? Close. Reincarnation? Teetering. Rodriguez will take to third like a bird to flight or a fish to the sea. He will come out as if he grew up there. It will not take him the 100 games that Cal Ripken, Jr. has prophesied. The man is a two-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop and has Graig Nettles, a human fielding vacuum when he played, working with him. Good move by Sir George. They, Alex and Jeter, will do commercials together and share endorsement deals. A-Rod does not want to lose any longer. He has fingers to cover. Yankee Stadium is the Field of Dreams. Always has been, always will be.
|Pitcher Javier Vazquez talks with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre during practice. Vazquez and Kevin Brown are the newest members of the Yankees starting rotation.|
The biggest problem in New York right now is who plays when and, maybe, where. That, too, shall pass and be resolved. Suppose Jeter gets hurt, I wonder who will move over in an instant to fill in until he gets back?
Then, Don Mattingly as hitting coach. That has my vote.
Boston will be in the hunt, but the outlook from this blind is that they will be hunted, not the hunter.
Hey, Alex was born on St. Nicholas Avenue, on 183rd Street. The man has come home. Can you fault him for that? He always wanted to play in New York. Is that a crime? In Boston it is, but there are lots of crimes going on in Boston that are not found elsewhere, with unerring regularity. When the Mets turned Alex down as a free agent three years ago, calling him a primma donna, who do they have to blame but themselves right now?
Three years without a championship. It is time. It is not the team of 1927, not yet. But they do have the potential to be among the great Yankee line-ups of all time. A long way from the standard of 1927 but within sight. Maybe they can lure Barry Bonds. That would do it. Jason Giambi with a rehab knee, Bernie Williams coming out and being his old self while switching positions, Enrique Wilson scooping up everything hit in his direction with patience at the plate, and a 35-year old Sheffield stimulated by what he sees around him and getting younger when he suits up.
A-Rod will not hit as many home runs in Yankee Stadium since his power is to right-center (385 feet from home plate) but one can live with that. We will take extra base hits as his doubles and triples increase, and he is a steady and self-controlled man in the batter's box.
If you are wearing anything that says "NY" on it you have to love all that is taking place in the Bronx right now. But, how are they handling it in Boston? You gotta be kidding!