Monday, August 5, 2013

Another error for A-Rod

Alex Rodriguez, as a young Seattle Mariner
(photo from
      Is is too late to change a baseball scoring decision from 1994?
      If so, if the Southern League permits it, I want to change a hit for some long-forgotten player and give an error to shortstop Alex Rodriguez of the Jacksonville Suns. Because an error is how I first scored the play.
      Then, after the game was over and after Suns manager Marc Hill called me in the press box to suggest I should change the call -- and he did that nicely -- I changed it to a hit.
      Now, giving it second thought 19 years later, I want to make it an error ... just on principle. Just because it's A-Rod, and he didn't deserve the break.
      He was only 18 then, in his first pro season and on his way to the major leagues, to the Seattle Mariners. It was a year after he had been the No. 1 overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft, but because he didn't sign until Aug. 30 of that year, he didn't begin his career until the spring of '94.
       He was then just as big a prima donna as he is now, at least in my one encounter with him.
      OK, it's pick on A-Rod Day in the wake of Major League Baseball giving him a 211-game suspension ... pending his appeal, of course. And who out there thinks A-Rod isn't guilty of  yet another performance-enhancing-drugs violation?
       So he's fighting MLB on this -- the only player appealing in the current set of suspensions -- just as he's fought the New York Yankees on a few matters in recent weeks (and acted out on more than a few matters over the 10 seasons he's been with them).
       As a fan of the Yankees since 1956, I will say this: Alex Rodriguez has been one of the most talented, and most frustrating, players we've had on our side.
       Frankly, at this point, it's hard to root for him. There have been plenty of Yankees I was not fond of -- Roger Clemens, Rickey Henderson, Dave Winfield, to name a few Hall of Fame-caliber players -- and A-Rod has worked his way into that group.        
        It's not just that he's been so disappointing in so many playoff series. It's not that he's been one of the Yankees' biggest chokers ever (gosh, I hate that word, but it applies here). It's all the stupid things he's done, his totally out-of-whack contracts, all his weak-ass apologies, all his off-the-field ... let's say adventures, all his women, all the  tabloid fodder, his arrogant bubble gum-blowing, his showoff high-socks looks, his white shoes for the All-Star Game, his high-and-mighty strut back to the dugout after another strikeout in a key situation.
         Sick of looking at him, reading about him, hearing people talk about him. Make him go away.
         MLB is trying. He left it no choice with his continued involvement with PEDs. Not once. Twice. How stupid. How arrogant.
          I don't believe the Yankees' management wants him in the lineup, no matter what the public statements have been. When general manager Brian Cashman said that A-Rod should just "shut the (bleep) up" a few weeks ago, that was all you needed to know.
           This season's team badly needs offense, so the A-Rod who could provide it would be a boost. But I don't believe one big bat is going to turn this season around and lead to a playoff spot because the pitching has been spotty, too.  So I don't believe a vintage A-Rod will matter.
            But do we really want A-Rod at all? Do we really want to win that badly? Haven't we suffered enough with him?
             When the Yankees traded for him in 2004, getting him from the Texas Rangers, we all believed it would lead to a string of World Series championships. We are 1-for-9 with A-Rod, and that one -- when he was spectacular in the 2009 playoffs/World Series -- now has a PED smell to it. I mean, we'll take it, but you have to wonder.
            A-Rod has turned into a Yankees fans' nightmare. And I'm thinking of one play in 1994.
            In '94, A-Rod had started the season with Class A Appleton, Wis., where in 65 games he .319 with 17 doubles, six triples, 14 home runs and 55 RBIs (one of his teammates was Raul Ibanez). Then he was promoted to Class AA Jacksonville.
            I was a $25-a-game official scorer for Suns' games at old Wolfson Park. It was a fun job, nice to watch players on the way up or in one case (third baseman Luis Quinones) on the way down. The Suns team wasn't very good, 60-77, but the roster included future big leaguers Derek Lowe, Jim Mecir, Ron Villone, Mac Suzuki, Chris Widger, Jacksonville's own Desi Relaford and the guy A-Rod replaced at shortstop, ex-LSU player Andy Sheets.
            (Later that summer, because the big league players went on strike, Mariners manager Lou Piniella came to Wolfson to watch a game and check on some of the organization's prospects.)
            A-Rod played 17 games for Jacksonville, 69 plate appearances. He hit .288 with four doubles, one triple, one home run and eight RBI. And he was charged with three errors at shortstop. It could've been four.
             The play in question was a hard grounder up the middle. A-Rod was shaded to his left and moved several steps left to reach the ball on the right side of second base. When the ball bounced up to him, he dropped it. I called it an error.
              Tough error; a 50-50 call, really. But I felt he should have fielded it, and if he had, he's have thrown out the batter.
             At game's end, as I was totaling up the box score and filling out the league form (this was before electronic scoring), the manager called and said he thought it should have been ruled a hit.
             I didn't mind changing it; it was a tough call; and the change made everyone happy. The batter got a hit; A-Rod lost an error.
             I had never talked to A-Rod, only saw him in one of my few trips to the clubhouse (I didn't hang out there). But he obviously knew I was the scorer because after that game, as I was going to my car, he was coming out of the clubhouse, too. He looked at me, shook his head and laughed.
             And that smirk ...
             Even then, at age 18, it seemed to me he was pretty full of himself.
             Now we all know that, don't we?


  1. From Bob Cox: Thanks, Nico. You said a lot this Yankees fan agrees with. Imagine what A-Rod could have done had he had the character and integrity of a Jeter, a Bernie Williams or many other great but far less gifted players.

  2. From Taylor Moore: Good blog on A-Rod. At least his manager called up to the press box to ask that you change an error to a hit. ... I agree completely with you on A-Rod. Its time for him to go to the house and put us all out of his misery.

  3. From Sandy Atkinson: Excellent article. I was a Yankees’ fan ‘back in the day’ of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, etc., but fell out of love with baseball when Maris was treated so badly after his record-breaking performance. Had a chance to meet him once, as he owned a Budweiser franchise in the Gainesville area. He was a distributor to Conoco stations when Jerry was an area supervisor. He was the nicest person. No ego at all. Quite the gentleman. That reinforced my distaste for baseball ... (on you and A-Rod): I knew this would not sit well with you as a Yankees fan and also, much like me, a sports purist. We long for the good old days when our players’ worst habits were having too many beers or chasing skirts. Things men are expected to do (CHUCKLE). Per Forrest Gump: "That’s all I have to say about that."

  4. From Leo Van Thyn: The man's arrogance knows no bounds. Did he say he was fighting for his life? Unbelievable! There so many folks with serious illnesses and people living in oppressive countries who are fighting for their lives. He's made enough money for several lifetimes. Is there really anyone out there who cares for him?

  5. From Jimmy Russell: Good piece and good information. The GREAT history of the Yankees and their organization. He is certainly a disgrace to all of that. He thinks he is that important. One thing for sure -- he will NEVER be in the Hall of Fame.