Yankees fans want more than an apology, they want production
By JOSH SOLOMON
College Contributor Network
It's tough to call it a letter from your ex, asking to take them back. Alex Rodriguez went on a break from the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball after cheating. It was bad. He had hurt fans deeply. He cheated again, when we let him back into our hearts.
As a lifelong Yankees fan though, how much do I really care for this handwritten letter A-Rod issued Tuesday? Is it anything more than a pathetic ex asking to be taken back? Unfortunately for Yankees fans, we don't have much of a choice. He's coming back whether we're okay about it or not.
The apology from Rodriguez is more of a "Hey, remember me?" than any mea culpa. His penmanship, in script with blue ink, starts "To the Fans," and concludes "Sincerely, Alex." In between are four paragraphs, 211 words that address his suspension, his dissenters and of course, his goals.
Is it as carefully crafted as past apologies from A-Rod? Back in 2009, almost six years to the date, he admitted steroid use in a television interview and then went forth with the media as his teammates stood behind him in support. It was orchestrated. It was precise. It seemingly worked.
Nine months later Rodriguez had sweet redemption –- a championship trophy hoisted above his head. As a fan of the the team, the controversies that sparked the hot stove of A-Rod controversy back in that February were so far removed. It's not that I don't care about steroid abuse -– I do, and it is awful for the game -– but I value hard work and earning your way back into the fans' hearts. The best way to do that is to win. It's even bigger when it took nine years to win a World Series, after growing up in the late '90s engrossed in nothing but season-ending pennants.
Yankees fans are spoiled. Most know it. But we value a champion who deserves it at the end of the 162 game season just like any fan. Rodriguez lied to fans to get back to the top of the podium. For that, any letter's script serves to swerve away from the numbers.
A-Rod: We rather see you report to spring training, swing for the fences, fail, but find a way to earn that starting spot on the roster. Your apology is likely to never serve as Andy Pettitte's did seven years ago in 2008. On Feb. 17, the Yankees announced his number will be retired in Monument Park; a member of the Core Four is valued for his dedication to the brand of Yankees baseball and winning championships. Right now, A-Rod's talent have only taken the Pinstripes to one trophy in the Promised Land.
There is appreciation and maybe some sympathy for lines like these, "I accept the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything that I say at this point. I understand why and that's on me." Rodriguez understands the situation.
As a former big time A-Rod fan, I'm glad he seems to get it. That won't make me walk around with my Rodriguez jersey, because I don't support his past actions that have hurt the club as a whole. I could even see myself growing to root for him, maybe. It is difficult to root for eight players and when that one digs into the box, call on the boo-birds. That's not what it should be as a fan; A-Rod's insistence in staying with the Yankees and being a productive member complicates what it means to be a fan in today's post-steroid-era baseball.
A couple seasons ago, I saw Rodriguez's first home run after he returned to the Yankees. It was Aug. 11, 2013 in a 5-4 win against the Tigers. There was headline controversy on how Yankees fans should receive the man who seemed to be taking the team down with his controversy.
I was sitting in the right field bleachers and he belted a home run. I booed. A fan next to me cheered. It was a mix bag of reactions, but I was ready for it. I booed him all game and was prepared to boo him through everything, knowing the game was nationally televised. I wanted to help send the message to viewers at home and the media in the press box that Yankees fans did not support him. Most Yankees fans threw their hands up and cheered the home run, after all it was a big game for a team trying to stick its neck over the .500 mark against one of the best teams in baseball. There's a distinction here. Most fans put their overpriced beers aside and celebrated a home run. The Yankees were winning and they came to the stadium to see them win.
Regardless of how the media might attack him this year or how Rodriguez will handle the spotlight, if he helps his team win people will cheer. That's all he needs. Rodriguez is not Tiger Woods. He's not playing an individual sport, but if he can do the little things right when the cameras are focused on him, then we can crumble up that letter come October. That's how you come back from a break. Blue ink, script writing aside, fans want him to honor the Yankee blue and the interlocking NY.
Josh Solomon is a Queens kid, transplanted to DC, who now reps New York and DMV teams. He is a junior at George Washington University, where he is a staff writer for The GW Hatchet.