Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Let us now praise famous men

Before the "selloff," the famed Cashman Cash Men of 2016 were a .500 team, joylessly carting around the corpse of Alex Rodriguez like a big-budget remake of Weekend at Bernies. Thus far into the "New Cashman Era," (Copyright: IIHIIFIIc) they remain a .500 team, still hauling the A-Rod cardboard cutout into the dugout. The greatest player in the modern era has become a sad millstone.

Nobody will take him in a trade - not Miami, which birthed him, not Seattle, which drafted him, not Texas, which juiced him. The last six pitchers to face him have poured fastballs into his wheelhouse, which is a house without a wheel. He couldn't hit them. He is four A-Bombs shy of 700, and unless MLB brings Denny McLain, (now 72) out of retirement, he might not make it.  

Often, sluggers at the end of the line grow huffy, indignant - blaming management or their bunions. They go down like a dirty whirlpool. What's different here is A-Rod's sentience. This is what he said yesterday:

“No matter what happens, I’m at peace with myself. Make it very clear. I have two responsibilities: One is to contribute offensively when given the chance, and No. 2 is to help — I want to be careful to say, ‘Mold young players,’ because I’ve made more mistakes than anybody — but if they need some guidance, I think it’s important, whether I do it or another veteran player does it.”

In that paragraph, you could say Alex Rodriguez sounds presidential. It's the tone Donald Trump should have adopted with that Gold Star family, rather than getting pissy. They are the words of a thoughtful, self-aware man, who throughout his career has faced levels of hatred - some earned, some purely irrational - that are routinely associated with Hillary Clinton. Last night, as he came up for what could have been his last at bat ever - (frankly, any at bat could be his last) - he was lustily booed by a New York crowd. Unless he finishes in Yankee Stadium, he will almost surely be jeered. There will be no farewell tour, no designer cowboy boots given by grateful adversaries. It's a good thing they don't allow fans to bring tomatoes.

When A-Rod retires - I assume it will require a buyout - the Yankees might fall below Food Stamps Steinbrenner's all-critical luxury tax threshold. It probably won't matter next winter, because the free agent class will be so thin. But in following years, A-Rod's legacy could hold sway with certain players. Bryce Harper grew up a rabid Yankee fan, watching A-Rod. Manny Machado wears Number 13 to honor his idol. It would be convenient for the Yankees - and Yankee fans - to blame their troubles on A-Rod. It would also be wrong. The Yankees need to pay Alex not only the money, but the respect he deserves.

Since the weekend trades, Brian Cashman seems to be taking victory laps everywhere. You'd almost think he had nothing to do with the policies that left this franchise so desperate and downtrodden. Last night, watching the Tankees fail, all I could think of was - "same old, same old." We have a tortuously boring, downhill-sliding cascade of veterans - Castro, Headley, Tex, Gardy, Ellsbury, McCann - who give little hope. Any one of them should be writing down A-Rod's words and memorizing them, because frankly, I don't see any of them being on the next Yankee world championship team, probably three or four years away. What's most galling is that, in several situations, we're talking about hitters who simply could not - or would not - adapt to defensive over-shifts. If they'd learned to bunt or go to the opposite field - in other words, practice, practice, practice - they could wreck the defensive schemes. They simply did not, to the detriment of their team, and the disillusionment of their fans.

From here on, the 2016 Yankees will be an Agatha Christie novel. One by one, they're going to vanish. A-Rod might be the first. Or he might be the last. But he's going, boys, and there won't be anybody like him again. He doesn't deserve to be booed.

12 comments:

The Ghost of Yankees Past said...

el duque, rather "Statesman like " article. Well done !

Anonymous said...

WE SAID GOODBYE TO BABE RUTH.....LOU GEHRIG.....JOE DIMAGGIO.....MICKEY MANTLE.....YOGI BERRA......THURMAN MUNSON......MARIANO RIVERA......AND DEREK JETER......... I CAN LOOK AT THOSE NAMES AND TRULY SAY, GOOD RIDDANCE AROD.

Ken of Brooklyn said...

He's gradually turned things around for me. Hoping he can exit gracefully,,,,, he'll probably land a plumb position broadcasting.

Anonymous said...

Yogi Berra, Lefty Gomez, and BABE FUCKING RUTH did not finish their careers as Yankees . . . so who can possibly give a shit about which monkey suit adorns this sociopathic liar and cheat in his slide to oblivion? el duque may have a soft spot for terminal narcissism, but his maudlin encomium will strike an uncharacteristically false and strained note for most readers.

Anonymous said...

This is the real anonymous2, No matter your personal feelings, Alex Rodriguez, is one of the best baseball players in history. Unfortunately, judging by your adverse comments, you are simply fans and not students of the game. El Duque has ONLY been a Yankee follower for 60 years, while I started following and rooting for them, while Bucky Harris was Manager. (That's 70 years) The first game I attended was the seventh game of the 1947 World Series.
This El Duque blog is quite proper and well written tribute about the end of the career of one of the all-time greats.

Factfinder said...

Yes--one of the all-time great frauds. Point taken. Also deeply impressed by your clairvoyance, which allows you to divine what Rodriguez would have achieved without chemical enhancement and judge that it would have ranked him among the all-time greats. Thanks for sharing.

John M said...

Real Anonymous2, I respect your opinion and agree with it heartily. Duque is right.

Obviously, the A-Rod haters came out of the woodwork for this one. (ALL CAPS Anonymous can say what he wants around here, he's not piling on.) And still, this silly thing about PEDs turning a player into Superman persists, too. I guess this explains why the fairly large percentage of pitchers and hitters from the Steroid Era who partook of its hormonal wonders, are all heading for the Hall with gaudy numbers and malformed heads and muscles.

Oh, wait, they aren't. Wow. How did that happen?

Anonymous said...

HEY, I LIKE THE WAY AROD HAS HANDLED HIMSELF THE LAST 2 YEARS SINCE HIS SUSPENSION, HE HAS BEEN A PERFECT CITIZEN..... BUT I WASN'T SO MUCH "HATING" ON AROD....I WAS MERELY SAYING HOW US ,AS YANKEE FANS, HAD TO GET OVER ALL THOSE OTHER YANKEE GREATS, AND NOW THAT IT'S AROD'S TIME, THERE CERTAINLY SHOULDN'T BE ANY SLEEP LOST OVER HIM...

Ken of Brooklyn said...

Well said ALL CAPS.

joe de pastry said...

Either release him so another team could pick him up for nothing or have him DH almost every day. Now that baseball has become fun again let us see whether he can surprise us again or let him go and bring up another kid to give us a glimpse at the future. If all he does is pinch hit twice a week we can expect nothing but Ks.

Factfinder said...

John M. fails elementary logic again with his juvenile reductio ad absurdum. Just because not EVERY player was vaulted to superstardom by the pandemic of PED use does not mean that NONE were. This is a point so basic that only someone desperate to mangle the truth could possible miss it.

There were many players who seemingly defied the laws of time and biology with late-career vaults into eye-popping numbers that were unparalleled in baseball history. John M. believes, evidently, that this all occurred by chance or through the intervention of the Home-Run Fairy.

The following statistical analyses of Bonds's and Clemens's before-and-after PED performance vs. age makes the point unmistakable, even to the fact-averse such as John M.:

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/The-transformation-of-Barry-Bonds-2502695.php

http://athlonsports.com/mlb/should-steroids-forever-keep-barry-bonds-and-roger-clemens-out-baseballs-hall-fame


This report from The Onion pretty well sums up the whole era: "Barry Bonds Took Steroids, Reports Everyone Who Has Ever Watched Baseball":

http://www.theonion.com/article/barry-bonds-took-steroids-reports-everyone-who-has-1914

ranger_lp said...

I have a theory on this. If the Yanks with the young guys make a run in August for the Wild Card, A-Rod goes this year before 9/1. If not, he stays doing nothing while they look at the young players on the expanded roster.

Then in the spring, A-Rod has to make the team. If not, he gets released in the spring before the start of 2017 season.