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.