Me & A-Rod

As most of you know I root for the Yankees.  Mostly because I started following baseball in 1976 and I lived in Connecticut.  Since most of you are young I will remind you here that this was that terrible time before cable, before satellites, before ESPN and before remote controls.  You got about 6 channels, you got up off your ass to change them and you goddamn well liked it.

Also there were dinosaurs.  We just called them The Rolling Stones back then.

Had there been cable or ESPN my 7 year old self would undoubtedly have latched on to the Reds, because they swept the Yankees that year to win the World Series and 7 year olds are front-running assholes.  We did not, however, have access to any channels that showed the Reds.  We had Channel 11, WPIX, out of NYC and starring Phil Rizzuto, (who god bless him never seemed to be watching the same game I was), so the next year I was regularly watching Yankee games and they not only won the World Series that year they did it in 1978 too.  Game, set, match.  I was 9, the Yankees had played in 3 straight World Series and won two of them.  What kid could ask for more?

They wouldn’t win again until 1995 which, I know, boo-fucking-hoo for me right?  During that time I followed them far more religiously than I did religion, much to my mother’s chagrin and what I suspect was my father’s secret delight.  Even if he was a Red Sox fan Dad was just happy that I didn’t think any more of Catholicism than he did.  Yes, for 17 years I cuddled up before the TV and watched Dale Berra, Ken Clay, Ken Phelps, Matt Nokes and some actually good players, like Dave Winfield, try and fail to win another World Series.  In the late 80’s they didn’t seem to try all that hard either.

My favorite player, (that I’ve actually seen; Lou Gehrig is my favorite player of all time although contrary to how old some of you think I am I never saw him play), was Don Mattingly.  From 1984-1987 you could make a strong case that he was the best player in baseball.  He was a Gold Glove first baseman, (and a legitimate Gold Glove, unlike St. Derek Jeter in his later years), and during that time, pre-steroids I might add, he hit 119 home runs and drove in 483 runs.  He hit .343, .324, .352 and .327.

Then he fucked up his back.  He remained a great defensive player and a decent but not spectacular offensive player.  He kept playing through 1995 but never regained the form he had for those four years.  He will not, and should not whatever my high school self thinks, make the Hall of Fame.

Which brings me to Alex Rodriguez.  He needs no introduction.  He was an All-Star and future Hall of Famer pretty much from Day 1.  Put up statistics that made Mattingly look like a guy who should hit 8th.  Defensively very, very good and it’s not a real secret that when he wound up in New York Jeter became the second best SS on the team, even if A-Rod moved to 3rd.

Despite his phenomenal production on the field A-Rod never clicked off the field.  Socially he’s less than adept.  A less generous person might say “socially retarded”, but I’m led to believe that this isn’t an acceptable term so I’ll just say that when it comes to social skills A-Rod would probably fall somewhere between Bill Belichek and Hitler.  (Godwin’s Law; nailed it!)  Every step he took he fucked up.  Married a gorgeous woman, (probably) cheated on her with a stripper built like a man.  Dated Madonna.  Played cutesy with Cameron Diaz at the Super Bowl.  Made out with a reflection of himself.

Despite all that I liked the guy.  Probably because I’m something of a contrarian, although not Skip Bayless level by any means; I have some self-respect!  If everyone hates a ball player, I’ll look for a reason to like him.  And there were plenty of reasons to like A-Rod.  First in his prime he was clearly the best player in the game.  Second, whatever his missteps were as long as you weren’t married to him they were pretty harmless.  So the guy’s a social idiot, big deal.  So he chokes in the post-season, (2009 excepted), so did the rest of the Yankees, they just got away with it because A-Rod was there.  I rooted for him.   I wanted him to do well.

And then he got caught cheating.

Twice.

So today Alex got his 3,000th hit, maybe baseball’s most exclusive club that doesn’t involve pre-1910 pitchers.  It was a home run, his 667th, 4th all time.  He has over 2,000 RBIs, number 2 behind Hank Aaron.  And he has 2 PED suspensions, including one setting the record for longest suspension ever.  Which is saying something since the Yankees once employed Steve Howe, who I believe had at least 8 suspensions for being too fond of nose candy back in the 80’s and 90’s.

I’ll admit, as a Yankees fan and as someone who rooted for A-Rod, part of me wanted to see him hit these milestones and part of me, even today, was happy for him.  As a baseball fan, as a fan of a guy who flamed out because of injuries and never had a chance to “recover” because of the “treatments” that showed up in the late 90’s, eh not so much.  I guess it comes down to, good for you Alex.  Good for you and your family and for achieving all of those dreams you had growing up when you so obviously sacrificed every bit of personal growth and self-awareness that didn’t directly affect baseball.  Congratulations, and I mean that.

But don’t think for a minute that I respect them half as much as I respect what Don Mattingly did.

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upstate underdogfmwarnerballsofsteelandfuryKing HippoHoratio Cornblower Recent comment authors
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upstate underdog
upstate underdog

My origin as a Yankees fan is similar to Horatio’s. I went to my first Yankees game in 1978 with my dad and grandfather and brother when I was seven. It was helmet day and Chris Chambliss won the game with a home run in the bottom of the ninth.

As far as Jeter goes, I liked him but Mariano Rivera is the greatest Yankee I ever saw play.

His Right Honorable Lord Lordship the Lordly

He’s a great player, but he never struck me as a great Yankee. In general, Yankees fans have this love-hate relationship with him. Of course there are the reports he has a painting of himself as a centaur.
http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–tdCgLN3v–/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_320/17h11kj0qx5qpjpg.jpg

laserguru

You had to wait a few years between championships?
I can’t think of anything more horrible.

/lifetime Cubs fan.
//drinks turpentine.

Nice write up.

VonTazeMeBro
VonTazeMeBro

I juat can’t believe we are allowed to talk about baseball here without the use of a safe word

Cuntler

Sanctimonious sports writers bitching about PED use bother me more than PED use. Every fucker in every sport does it. They just get tested and caught these days. Fuck, those 70’s Steelers teams were JUUUUUUUUUIIIIIICEDDDD. Enjoy your Asperger’s-y superstar’s moment. I loved it when Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s record because baseball writers are just terrible. Also, Graig Nettles was the bomb, yo.

King Hippo

Totally agree on Bonds. It’s also lost in the shuffle that he was an elite player before his head grew three sizes, thanks to the best batting eye since the days on Stan Musial/Ted Williams. Until he got old and hurt, he was also an incredible defensive OF.

But, everybody was juicing, he wanted to get PAID instead of just paid, and take a run at some records. We were all entertained. I will not clutch my pearls about it.

Ad shit, I would have had a leather recliner in the locker room if management would have allowed it, too. Comfort is a good thing.

laserguru

I’ve been a baseball fan since birth. I played little league from T-ball until high school and I never gave a fat baby’s fart if the players juiced.
Chicks dig the long ball.
Even though I have never been a Yankee fan, I was devastated when Thurman Munson was lost in the plane crash. It felt like the fans lost some great years of baseball.
Not sure if you remember but the Angels had a player named Lymon Bostock who was a five tool player that got shot by a crazy person who thought his wife was cheating on him. This was also late 70’s.
Fucking tragedy.

King Hippo

Baseball is easily the sport I best understand. I was never much of a hitter (goddamned curve balls), until I took softball as a PE elective at NC State and learned how to aim for the pitcher’s head. Line drive single up the middle every time! But I got the game. My little brother (5 grades younger) was very good, and I coached him through age 13-14 before he gave it up in high school. I was an excellent 3rd base coach and strategist, and I’ve been playing simulation-based computer games (better than fantasy) for over 25 years, using the Diamond Mind Baseball platform.

Football is what I enjoy the most, but if you gave me an NFL playbook to read, or dropped me on the sideline with a headset, I’d break down crying within 5 minutes.

Cuntler

I bet Ron Guidry was a heavy breather with those braces.

Covalent Blonde

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dx9QWYjYZzg/UvbfuNNj_gI/AAAAAAAACNQ/Mf1Fd5y3w0Y/s1600/mattingly-90post-simpsons.jpg

While this may be all that I know of Mattingly, I no less appreciate the sentiment of seeing through the triumphs of those who lack integrity overshadow the contributions of those who performed faithfully and reliably without being a total asshat.

ballsofsteelandfury

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on Jeter. I personally think he’s the greatest Yankee that ever played the game. He was a thinking man’s ballplayer in that he never got married and his streak of hot girlfriends and bed buddies is unrivaled. Oh, and he was the captain of the best Yankees run since our daddies were all semen in our grandfathers’ ballsacks.

Old School Zero

All these words on A-Rod and Jeter just caused Peter King to apply for an account here.

WhyEaglesWhy

I’m no fan of Jeter because he’s a Yankee, but if I step outside my petty sports fan bubble, he seems like a good dude. My LA roommate for many years is a New Yorker, and once was out to dinner in a place where Jeter also happened to be eating. During dinner, a dude in the restaurant proposed to his girlfriend and everyone clapped. When their meal was over, the waiter wheeled over the entire dessert cart and said it was compliments of Mr. Jeter, who offers his congratulations. Jeter had left at least 20 minutes before.

King Hippo

He’s done some high level trolling this season. Thanked MLB and the Steinbrenner family for their support today.

Since my Redbirds are in the midst of what we self-aware fans acknowledge to be a “full heel turn,” I would love to have him at 1B in SL. I’m sure there are ample mannish womenfolk in Mizzou for him.

Old School Zero