Tuesday, February 26, 2013
With sunset on the horizon, John Sterling - the last Voice of the Yankees - is working all this A-Rod stuff out in his head
Posted by el duque at 7:41 AM
This weekend, from the Jeep-driven bully pulpit of Tampa, John Sterling - the modern reincarnation of Mel Allen - delved into the A-Rod mess and, you might say, glimpsed everyone's future, including his own. Bob Raissman of the Daily News captured it. (Ma is Suzyn Waldman)
"But they (MLB officials) have to prove all this,” Sterling said. “It’s got to be proven.”
Ma wanted to get a word in. Smoke was coming out of her ears. We imagined we saw it on the radio. “Yes, John, but you’ve got to wonder what they (A-Rod, Francisco Cervelli and others) were doing there in the first place,” she said.
They went back and forth on this for a while. During the exchanges they never mentioned Rodriguez by name. They didn’t have to. You knew it was all about him. Their tone was drenched in disgust.
Waldman recounted a comment Mark Teixeira made at a recent charity event. “He said, ‘I want to talk baseball,’” Waldman said. “ ‘But every time a fan comes up to me all they want to talk about is steroids. I’m sick of it.’”
Suzyn should brace herself. We all should. This season, A-Rod will be our Lord Voldemort, the vile presence who lurks everywhere but must not be mentioned by name. Frankly, we are accumulating a bunch of taboo topics: Michael Pineda, Jesus Montero, Russell Martin, Nick Swisher, Raphael Soriano, maybe Francisco Cervelli and maybe even Robbie Cano. Any excitement over Melky Mesa - a Kevin Maas-level prospect, at best - will not outshine the pain this 2013 team is about to inflict upon the couple that Raissman derisively - (maybe lovingly, not sure) - calls Ma and Pa.
In today's column, Raissman seems surprised that John would raise the specter of A-Rod in an exhibition game. That's a swing and miss: Sterling talks for a living, and no such person completely avoids juicy topics like A-Rod. John talks about everything. And like Mel Allen before him, the Master feels Yankee pain like few others in this physical world. I think he genuinely grieves for A-Rod. He might be the last person on the planet to feel that way.
People love or hate Sterling and generally discolor whatever he says with their own bias. It comes with the job. But this we know: He loves the Yankees. And one of these days, they're going to break his heart.
You can see it coming. The one-year contracts. The hideous deluge of in-game ads. The lack of a third voice. The guy must be pushing 70 - (he keeps his age secret, but do the math) - yet still calls every inning of every game. He's never missed one. They're not giving him or Suzyn any respite. They're hanging them out to dry, and when the Yankees fall apart this summer - seriously, does anyone see it differently? - Sterling will be a convenient presence standing blindfolded on the plank, walking toward the sound of water.
Love him or hate him, the days are growing shorter - not longer - for the Voice of the Yankees. Be it a blessing or a curse, we won't see another one like him in our lifetimes. Nobody will ever suffer a Yankee defeat on-air the way John Sterling has for the last 20 years. But one thing will not change.
The owners. They'll never understand what it's like to work for a living.
File under The Master