Baseball's best player gets reunited today with baseball's worst fans. You know what that means. It means the New York Yankees are coming home.
But not you, Alex Rodriguez. You're not coming home. You're only visiting.
|Watch behind you A-Rod ... Yankees fans might stab you in the back. (Getty Images)|
It's not fair. Yankee Stadium doesn't deserve A-Rod, a message A-Rod can send at the end of this season by exercising the escape clause in his contract. It's time for his contract to work in his favor, considering it has worked against him in New York -- where the lowest common denominator sets the agenda, and the agenda has been that A-Rod isn't playing up to his $252 million contract.
Which isn't fair. Who could play up to a $252 million contract? Barry Bonds in his huge-headed heyday couldn't have played up to a $252 million contract. Neither Babe Ruth nor Lou Gehrig nor Joe DiMaggio nor Mickey Mantle could have played up to a $252 million contract. Which means A-Rod has never been the problem. The idiot owner in Texas, whose idiocy is surpassed only by the previous owner of the Rangers, gave A-Rod the contract in 2001. The idiot owner in Texas is the problem.
But now the fans in New York are the problem. Well, not "now." Technically, right now the fans in New York are pleased with their third baseman, which is just dandy. It took one of the best starts in baseball history, but the fans at Yankee Stadium now have A-Rod's back.
Until he has a bad game or two, at which point they'll have the knife in his back.
Yankees fans are unbelievable. Their owner spends more than any owner in any U.S. sport, the team wins the obligatory World Series every now and then, and Yankees fans act as if the game was invented in the Bronx. It wasn't. It was just financed there, starting with the December day in 1919 when the Yankees bought the Babe.
Yankees fans are ingrates and boors, and most of the time that's fine with me. Buy your ticket, drink your beer and stay up there in New York, near Mike Freeman's house and way the hell away from me. But when Yankees fans bring their boorishness to bear on one of the most complete players any of us will ever see, OK, now I've got a problem.
Honestly, it's the fickleness that kills me. If you're going to resent Pay-Rod, Bronx Boors, resent him all the time. Resent him when he throws the ball into right field, resent him when he strikes out and resent him when he goes cold in October. Just like you did last year. Boo him when he pops out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning in snowy 38-degree weather, just like you did in the second game of this season. The second game. Unbelievable.
But also resent him when he's hitting six home runs in the first seven games of the 2007 season, a streak surpassed only by Mike Schmidt's seven-in-seven start in 1976. Resent him when he's blasting a grand slam to beat the Orioles on Easter eve.
Last summer it was awful. A-Rod slumped at the plate and was struggling in the field and the fans were on him and the press was on him and the struggles continued and the cycle went on and on and Derek Jeter was painfully quiet and ...
Oh, right. What about you, Derek Jeter? You cold-hearted snake. You captain in name only. What about Jeter, who holds Yankee Stadium in the palm of his hands because of his good fortune to have been drafted by the richest team in sports, to have been paired annually with the best talent money can buy, and to have cashed in with the obligatory occasional World Series ring? What about that guy?