Surprising reaction to the Lightning Rod
By Joe Auriemma
With all of the news about Alex Rodriguez and steroids this offseason, you knew that he was bound to get booed at other stadiums around the league. In fact, during the first exhibition game against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, FL, A-Rod did get booed.
What was a little surprising to me was that he got a mixed reaction when stepping up to the plate at George M. Steinbrenner Field in his first “home” plate appearance. Now the Yankees were playing the Rays, who might have had their own fan base at the game supporting the team, but it still was a little shocking.
A-Rod has been accused of having a fragile psyche in the past and does seem to try to hard in key situations, so this was probably not what he needed to hear at the start of the season. The bottom line is that he is under contract to be the Yankees’ third baseman for the next nine seasons. If you are not a fan of A-Rod and what he did, but a fan of the Yankees, it’s really a Catch-22. In order for the Yankees to compete for a World Series, they need A-Rod to produce. There is no way around it.
I’m not saying that fans need to give him a standing ovation, but I hope that the Bronx and the beautiful new Yankee Stadium can be a safe haven for a player that is going to have to deal with a lot of abuse on the road.
The New Stadium
On Wednesday morning I got to see the new Stadium and took a tour of the new Monument Park; the Yankees held an event to put the Babe Ruth monument into its new home. My first reaction was that it’s quite amazing. Yankee Stadium, and from what I’ve seen of CitiField in Queens, are as grand as the city they call home.
As I stood in the new Monument Park, I realized that hitting a home run to dead center will now make the monuments, plaques and retired numbers vulnerable to being hit. Even the restaurant above the Monument Park is bound for an assault from a monster home run shot. It’s going to make the game much more interesting to watch. It looks as if the Stadium is going to be much more fan friendly then the previous facility. The upper deck isn’t as steep, making each seat closer to the field.
I’m certainly going to miss the feeling I got when walking into the old Yankee Stadium, but I think that over time, and when baseball is being played in this new park, that old feeling is bound to come back.
I was at that game. Every other person in the stands was wearing a Tampa Bay rays hat or T – shirt. The ones seated near me were certainly loud in their disapproval. I wouldn’t worry (yet) about it being a trend for home games.
I love how beginning of last season, the Rays couldn’t fill up Tropicana Field, now they have an entire fan base that can almost fill up Legends Field. Amazing.
I think it begs the question – should A-Rod be entitled to a free pass in Yankees stadium? This isn’t just a case of a guy going into the drug store and buying something he shouldn’t. This is the case of somebody buying an illegal drug in the Dominican Republic, bringing that illegal drug into the US and then injecting that illegal drug into a person. And this differs from other illegal drugs (like I don’t know, say heroin) how?
I definitely don’t think he deserves a free pass. I just think that he’s going to get his share of critics on the road, deservedly so.
As Yankee fans, I don’t think they need to cheer him, but he’s certainly a huge piece to the Yankees success. If he gets booed at home, he’ll have no safe haven. A-Rod has been accused in the past of having a fragile psyche. If that’s the case, he’ll really be messed up and in turn it hurts the team.
I in no way condone what he did. It certainly is no different than taking illegal drugs. However, it was and may still be a big part of the game. Jose Canseco might have been correct when he said about 85% of baseball players were doing the same thing A-Rod was doing. Not acceptable, but it is just a fact of what went on and may still be going on since about the mid-1980’s.
A-Rod is going to take a lot of heat, but he really is going to be taking heat for many other players that just never got caught or just won’t admit it.
This is a like a mini-blog response.