Friday, June 19, 2015

Some Reflections On A-Rod's 3,000th Hit

by Mark Lawrence, International Editor

So, Alex Rodriguez got his three thousandth hit.  Do I care?  I do not.

Don't misunderestimate me, sportsfans, there was a time when hearing news like that would've reminded me why I love baseball. The next-to-last Yankee to achieve the milestone was one of the Good Guys, a player with enough class and grace that even this writer felt compelled to wish him well. In fact, if I'm ever asked to name the last Yankee to hit 3000, I'll promptly answer, "Derek Jeter" - because his achievement actually meant something to me.  It embodied the true tenets of the game - skill, application, ability, humility - you name it, the Captain had it.  I was a little proud of Jeter that day and was happy to offer my respects.  He'd put in his time, played the game well and with respect and managed to retire as a player broadly admired and respected across the Game. Today though, records don't seem to mean so much to me anymore- especially when they're set, tied or broken by men who basically disrespect the Game.  It's more than a mild irritant to me that a lot of baseball's Grail-like milestones have had their significance diminished over the past decade or so, by a sub-class of player who - let 's face it - didn't give a rat's narrow behind about honor - their own or the game's.

So, sorry, but I can't get all schoolgirl-giddy about Alex Rodriguez hitting for the three thousandth time.  I won't feel like waxing lyrical when he hits his 700th home run, either.  I'd rather expend what little talent I have on talking up youngsters like Brock Holt - you know him, Al, the kid who hit the first Fenway Cycle in almost twenty years?  The kid who seems to be able to play every position well?  Holt is starting to look like the prototypical professional young ballplayer - solid skills, good attitude, a willingness to learn and a genuine team player - and I do stress genuine.  Brock Holt won't be caught checking his cellphone during a game. Brock Holt won't bitch out loud in the dugout. Brock Holt probably gets to the ballpark early and leaves late, a genial smile on his face all the while. Compare and contrast that list of characteristics with the arrogant infielder from New York and my disinterest in The Centaur’s newest record becomes clearer.

This is the difference between first and last in the AL East. It is the difference between Us and Them. Your 2015 Boston Red Sox aren’t exactly setting the baseball world afire right now but they’re not fielding a divisive, disingenuous glory-seeking prima donna, either.  And the New York scribes can scribble all they want about the Redemption of Alex Rodriguez, but they can’t deny the facts of a tainted career.

So, the Yankees sit atop the division and we're languishing at the bottom – but right now, I wouldn’t trade rosters for a World Series ring – besides, in the Zen of Baseball, it is far better to lose admirably than to win questionably.  And as we are so fond of saying, there’s always next year.