New York City is the greatest city in the universe. Have I traveled to every city in the universe? No, but as a New Yorker we are taught that the travel is not needed because you live in the city that others want to travel to. We do our best to avoid Times Square at all times because it is tourist heaven. We cower at the simple thought of anyone standing on a corner with their inestimable subway map high up in the air to determine how to get from Times Square to Union Square; it’s just simply not the New York way. In this city you’re built up to even if you do not know where you are going you at least make it seem like you most certainly do. Call it being arrogant, call it being stubborn, call it whatever you want but never underestimate that this is the New York way, and if you don’t like the way you know where you can go to solve that issue.
For as much as we cringe at the tourists, you can’t help but feel a little jealousy. The way you feel when you book a trip to Los Angeles or Miami they feel about New York. Imagine being a kid and your parents coming up to you saying “Guess what WE’RE GOING TO NEW YORK!” how excited would you be? You can’t help but understand that for the millions of us who see all the sights and hear all the sounds on an everyday basis, there are those who only see this maybe once a year, if ever.
Things like trips to New York or any other city with your family can turn into a tradition. It can become something that you are raised into supporting and doing for your entire life. The same happens when it comes to sports. It’s a tradition amongst families to pass down the support of favorite team from one generation to the next. If your parents and grandparents were raised as Mets fans chances are you will be raised to support the Metropolitans too. You learn about the teams’ past and the ups and downs. You’re taught how to be a true fan and how to forever bleed the colors. You gain the aspect of loyalty and learn to understand how to support something no matter what happens, good or bad. There is no jumping ship allowed. The family will always ride or die for this team. No matter the season, you go in thinking your team will be the best before and once and the season is over.
Things like that make me jealous.
I am the youngest of five children, two boys and three girls to be exact. With my father not being around there wasn’t much of a male influence in my household. My older brother played sports, but I learned about sports on my own. I decided to play little league baseball after watching Ken Griffey JR for the first time. My first true memory of ever watching basketball is Michael Jordan crying on the floor in the locker room after the 1996 Chicago Bulls won the first of their second three peats of NBA championships. As I grew older I watched more and more sports. It wasn’t just me watching Sportscenter on ESPN anymore; it was me watching entire games. It was more than just simply overhearing two people discuss what’s going on, it was me picking up the newspaper before getting on the train to school just too simply read the sports section and establish my own opinion. I felt as though I was committing a cardinal in the sports world, I was loving sports but without a team to truly root for. It was something I never had to do because no one in my family truly knew about sports and established any type of connection to a team. It is one thing to remember the same highlights that everyone else knew, but I knew that deep down I wanted a team to support. I had jerseys of all players from across the league, particularly baseball. My first jersey was a Mike Piazza Mets jersey, courtesy of me going to my first baseball game at Shea Stadium as a kid. After that I had a Sammy Sosa jersey, an Alex Rodriguez jersey, and a Ken Griffey JR jersey. I remember being in sixth grade and these jerseys were the only things I wore during summer school.
When I was 12 years old I was, at least in my mind, old enough to truly watch baseball and understand what was going on. I remember watching game seven of the 2003 ALCS between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Of course, we all know how that ended: Aaron Boone blasting a solo home run to the top of the left field bleachers in the bottom of the 11th inning, sending the Yankees to the World Series.
The summer of 2004 it finally happened.
It was July 24th 2004. I was sitting at home watching the Yankees versus Red Sox at Fenway Park. It was the Fox Five game of week, so that meant Joe Buck was announcing. The game gave everything a sports fan could possibly want. A high scoring game between two rival teams that provided no shortage of drama. It was the top of the third inning and Alex Rodriguez was up to face Bronson Arroyo. The Yankees were already up 3-0 after RBIs by Hideki Matsui, Tony Clark and Garry Sheffield, with the Red Sox not even registering a hit. Arroyo hit A-Rod with a pitch on his elbow. As A-Rod started walking towards first base he started jawing at Arroyo, next thing you know Jason Varitek is jawing with A-Rod and then, FIGHT NIGHT. A-Rod and Varitek start going at it meanwhile, Gabe Kapler starts fighting Tanyon Sturtze who then decided to take on Trot Nixon and David Ortiz, heck even Kenny Lofton was involved in a fight! It was madness before during and even after the fight. The game went back and forth and with the Yankees being up 9-4, you would think it’s time to change the channel and watch something else.
But I couldn’t help but watch.
It was 9-4 Yankees in the bottom of the sixth inning. Bill Mueller hits a sacrifice fly to center field with Nomar Garciaparra on third base and Trot Nixon on second, 9-5. Mark Bellhorn comes up and hits a double scoring Nixon and bringing over Kevin Milar to third base, 9-6. Johnny Damon singles to left bringing Milar home while Bellhorn moves to third and a walked David Ortiz heads over to second, 9-7. Manny Ramirez is then walked while the bases are loaded to make it 9-8 Yankees. After a solo home run in the 7th inning by Ruben Sierra, the Yankees go into the bottom of the 9th up 10-8 with Mariano Rivera on the mound to get the save.
Milar singles to right, Garciaparra scores 10-9.
With a man on base and down by a run, Bill Mueller steps up to face the greatest closer of all time. With one swing to center field I showed emotion I didn’t know I had. Mueller hit a game winning walk off home run to give the Red Sox an 11-10 dramatic win. It is personally the greatest baseball game I have ever watched because it gave me everything I could ask for, heck let’s call it a classic. It supplied the drama that sports fans crave when arch rivals get together, and for future tense it helped set up another playoff classic between these two teams in the 2004 ALCS. Most importantly it gave me the feeling of what it’s like to root for someone. It made me a fan, for the first time I was able to say I had a favorite team in a professional sport and I told myself I would support this team through the good and the bad.
I became a fan during the right season as I witnessed the greatest comeback in playoff history and witness the curse being broken. I remember my first Red Sox hat being a pinstriped cap with the Boston logo on the front. I truly thought it was the greatest hat ever. I was able to enjoy another championship season in 2007; but at the same time I felt as though tough times were coming along, and my true loyalty would be tested. My favorite players began to leave the team whether through trades, free agency, or simply being old and deciding to retire. Some players left and I supported wherever they went. I remember supporting the Dodgers simply because Manny Ramirez was on the team, even when he went on to the Chicago White Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays, but I still stayed loyal to the boys at Fenway.
For four years I endured the harsh reality of living on your own and being away for college. Four years of me coming home to New York only when I had school breaks or for the summer. During these years the fact that I couldn’t come home made me miss everything about my city. The sights, the sounds, the people, the food, I even missed those silly tourist families with their subway maps. I missed them because whenever I had to chance to come home I felt like them. I would land at the airport or get off the bus or train and just feel excited that I was finally in the city that’s great, it’s named twice. There was nothing about it that wasn’t missed; whether it’s the food trucks, the dollar pizzas, even the lovely homeless across the city, I missed everything about home.
I even missed those damn Yankees.
I watched them win the 2009 World Series and felt happy. I even went to the parade because it gave me an excuse for going home. I missed New York so much that I even promised my girlfriend I would become a Yankee fan once Jorge Posada was retired. Was it a promise I could fulfill? Absolutely not, but I was missing home so much that I thought I could change.
I’m glad I never did.
For the past three years I have been fortunate enough to attend at least on Yankee game per season, and if I attend one it is for sure to be a Yankee vs Red Sox game. Every time I go I get chills. The thrill of the stadium, the thought of getting such delicious food and drinks.
I also get the feeling of excitement knowing my team has arrived.
I take in the joy when the crowd is silent or booing because their precious Yankees are losing. I accept when I have to endure the mockery of my friends and girlfriend when the Yankees are winning and the Red Sox are not. It’s fun this way, and if I can’t have fun I don’t want to be involved. Over the weekend my girlfriend and I attended the Red Sox – Yankee game at Yankee stadium. We arrived early in order to take in the entire stadium experience; for her it was nothing new but to me it was everything. I toured the famous monument park where all the greats are enshrined forever. I visited a club suite where their ceiling lights are trading cards of Yankee greats. Our seats were the first row behind right field right where the W.B Mason sign is. All of this was great. A beautiful night out with great people, atmosphere and beautiful weather.
The only thing that could’ve made it perfect would be a Red Sox win.
I was giddy over the matchup with it being Jon Lester vs CC Sabathia. I was nervous when Alfonso Soriano hit a home run quickly out of the park. I endured a roaring Yankee crowd and girlfriend who couldn’t help but laugh at me and thought of her team losing; then Jonny saved me. In the 6th inning Jonny Gomes blasted a home run left field that tied the game and brought me out of my seat. Later in the inning as I went to get another round of awesome chicken fingers I watched on the screen as Grady Sizemore blasted a three run home run to right field exactly where our seats were, but it was great because they were winning. In the end the Red Sox were victorious and it turns out it would be the only win they got in this four game series. In this complicated story of being a fan I found myself more dedicated. I want to know not just the stars, but the entire roster. I want to know who could be coming up in the minor leagues and who might be getting shipped out. I want to pay attention to the contract talks and at the end of the day I want to be supportive of my team.
So cheers to you boys in Fenway, in the city that hates everything about you (until you join their team right Jacoby?!) I’ve finally managed to accept that this forever complicated relationship will remain that way; complicated. I promise to never stop supporting thee and forever hold you up like the subway map that Ben and Jane Foster from Wichita Kansas do on 42nd and Broadway.
Now let’s get back-to-back championships.
In life choices have to be made. People face decisions that can make an impact on so many people whether the impact is for good or for bad. When making a decision a person can tend to not think of those who will be effected by what he or she will do. In sports the choices are made all the time, not all are seen as good moves, whether it is a star player being traded or a player leaving on his own to go to another team, owners wanting new arenas for their teams which results in the raising of ticket prices; more than ever the world of sports and the world of business financials are synced together. In the world of sports controversy can create cash. The fall of a major superstar can create attraction simply based off the wonder of whether or not the star can make a comeback. No one had a clue when Kobe Bryant was going to return from his torn Achilles injury but you probably could have made a bet that opening night was going to be sold out in anticipation that he would be there in action.
No professional sport over the past decade and a half has had more controversy than Major League Baseball. It seemed like from the late 1990’s until now there was always a scandal happening and the scandal was focused on one thing and one thing only, Performance Enhancing Drugs. This year baseball was back in the headlines with the Biogenesis scandal. Early last year Major League Baseball investigated Anthony Bosch and his Biogenesis clinic in Florida for allegedly providing major league players with performance enhancing drugs. The main culprits were New York Yankees third basemen Alex Rodriguez, and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. Along with them twelve other players were supposedly involved in the scandal. In the end the scandal that was Biogenesis delivered a black eye to game of baseball that MLB thought had gone away years ago. Ryan Braun accepted a deal with MLB that involved him being suspended for 65 games with no pay. Twelve players including Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz were all suspended 50 games without pay but the suspension allowed the players to play in the postseason had their respective teams made the playoffs. Alex Rodriguez received the worst of all with a suspension that not only was slated keep him from playing for the rest of the 2013 season BUT all of next season as well (He ended up appealing his suspension and playing the rest of the season as the appeal went on). The suspensions were brutal. The scandal was the worse thing for baseball since the Pete Rose gambling controversy. Major League Baseball is doing all it can to put the steroid era behind but the era doesn’t seem to want to take its foot off the gas. Is what MLB doing purely for the love of the game? or is this bigger than cleaning up the game?
If you cheat and are caught then you deserve to be punished. No matter the circumstances it is a protocol that pretty much everyone can agree on. What you did was try and get ahead of everyone else. You thought that you could get an edge by sneaking around and finding a loop hole that only you knew of. When you are caught you deserve all the punishment that comes, but is there ever a time where you feel that maybe what happened to the alleged cheater is a bit to much? That those who are out to catch the cheater might have taken it a bit too far? In Alex Rodriguez’s case this could be very true.
This past weekend Alex Rodriguez learned that he would be suspended for the entire upcoming 2014 MLB season following the ruling of his appeal by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. The suspension includes the postseason if the New York Yankees make it. The ruling came after Horowitz heard a testimony from Anthony Bosch of Biogenesis, and evidence that included numerous text messages between A-Rod and Bosch, and maybe most importantly the testimony that Rodriguez did not give. Alex Rodriguez had the chance to testify and defend himself that all that he is being accused of is wrong. but he chose not to which did not help his case and now he is missing the whole season because of it.
This is not really about Alex Rodriguez, but more about Major League Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig. For twenty-two years Bud Selig watched over baseball and depending on what you believe, watched the steroid era happen and did nothing until there was pressure to do something. For the most part it is hard for you to find a person who does not think Barry Bonds was on steroids. Has Bonds ever failed a drug test? No but neither did Mark McGwire. McGwire only came out because he was coming back into baseball as a hitting coach for the St.Louis Cardinals. The 2003 Mitchell report only included Barry Bonds and till this day Bonds has not admitted to using steroids. In 2009 Sports Illustrated reported that in 2003 MLB conducted a survey to see if players were using steroids and 104 players turned out to test positive for performance enhancing drugs. The players were never punished because MLB commissioner Bud Selig and the players association came to an agreement that this was just a simple survey to determine if should change its drug policy. In 2004 the government was investigating 10 MLB players in connection to the BALCO scandal. During the investigation the government seized test results from a lab in California that MLB was using. The results were supposed to stay confidential but somehow were leaked. The SI report only named Rodriguez and the two drugs he tested positive for. A list later leaked that included players such as David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, but not only was the list not ever confirmed, but the list only named seven players. The only player confirmed on a list of 104 was Rodriguez which led to him admitting to using Ped’s.
Just like with the SI report the Biogenesis was based off a report that came from a former employer who then told the goods to a Miami newspaper. MLB decided to investigate Biogenesis by having Anthony Bosch be sued this way he can testify in court, but instead of going that route he decided to cooperate with MLB who in turned paid $125,000 dollars for evidence such as text messages between Rodriguez and Bosch from a guy named “Bobby”. Along with the payment MLB is paying for security to be around Bosch and all his legal fees as part of the agreement so that in return he testifies against Rodriguez. During Rodriguez’s appeal commissioner Selig decided not to testify and Rodriguez stormed out. During this whole process Rodriguez has felt that MLB is after him, and that they have nothing on him to present.
““The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review. ” – Alex Rodriguez statement after learning of his suspension.
This was the first paragraph of Rodriguez’s statement following the news of his suspension. Of course he is going to say something like this and defend himself to the fullest, but is this simply just a defense? We know that MLB is the place for guaranteed contracts unlike other pro sports. A-Rod was the first to command a $300 million dollar contract. He is the guy who opted out of his contact to receive a 10 year $300 million dollar deal. He is the inspiration behind guys like Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, and maybe soon Clayton Kershaw receiving contracts worth up to $300 million. He is also the guy that everyone assumed would be the next great home run hitter. He was supposed to not only break Barry Bonds record of 762 career home runs, but become the first man to hit 800, and most importantly the man to do it cleanly. We know he has admitted to using PEDS while with the Texas Rangers, but that was based off a leaked survey that was never supposed to come out. This is whole entirely different situation.
At some point everyone who has watched this drag on his just hoped for A-Rod to simply give up and go away. Not many have ever put to to thought of what if there is something we do not know. The players who all took their suspensions due to the Biogenesis scandal were told of the evidence that MLB had and decided that it was a fight they could not win.
Except Alex Rodriguez.
He said MLB was bluffing, that they did not have evidence that could withstand in court. He walked out on his arbitration hearing after commissioner Selig declined to testify. Major League Baseball’s drug policy states that players who fail drug test for the first time are suspended for fifty games, after that a second offense is 100 games, and a third is a lifetime ban from the game. If this is the case then why is Alex Rodriguez being suspended for 162 games when he has never failed a drug test? What is so vastly different between what Rodriguez is alleged to have done and what the players who did accept the suspensions have done that has caused such a different attack by Major League Baseball. One has to wonder if MLB would pay $125,000 dollars for evidence on Nelson Cruz from a guy named Bobby. His name is Bobby. No last name because MLB never got his last name.
Hustlers Hustle. They see an opportunity when they have one, and go get it. Bud Selig is entering his final year as commissioner. In an era that is tainted by cheating commissioner Selig has never been able to purely catch one of the biggest stars cheating red handed and make him his poster child for what will happen if you try to cheat the game.We only know McGwire cheated because he wanted back in baseball and knew he would have to answer questions. We will never know if Barry Bonds truly ever used performance enhancing drugs. If not for the SI report we would never know if Rodriguez truly ever did either. So if you are a retiring commissioner what better way to go out then with a extreme dagger that shows that you stepped and took down the steroid era. You will be remembered for so many great things, but everyone will remember that you did not let this steroid era just breeze on by without action. With taking down Rodriguez you have your poster boy. You have your guy that you can show the world and say ” This is what happens when you cheat. Do you want to be like this guy?” If this is what Selig wanted then paying $125,000 for information from a guy named Bobby was the only way to go. It was the only way to show the world what happens when you cheat, and think you can get away with it quicker than Ricky Henderson stolen base.
Then you have to wonder what if Alex Rodriguez is right? What if the evidence that MLB has on him is actually flawed and cannot prove that he used steroids. It’s a fight you have to continue to fight if you’re Rodriguez, but if this is just a fight he’s doing knowing that what MLB has on him is legit then he should give up. At the end of the day we might truly never know who is telling the truth in all of this, but for now Rodriguez can plan as many vacations as he wants to for the rest of 2014 while commissioner Selig rides out into the retirement sunset. He may never play another game again, and for a guy who has won three league MVP awards, a world series championship, multiple all-star team selections and gold gloves it’s a sad possible ending for a guy who was slated to be the greatest of all time.