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By DYLAN MALONE
While you’re reading this (or maybe just glancing), I’m spectating a kickball tournament.
How often can people say that in a lifetime? One of several reasons I’m a big fan of this job.
The tournament in question is the Kicking Out Cancer event headed up by Scott Christner. This has been an amazing event for four years now after today’s festivities and it’s slowly picking up attention and interest each new year.
And why not? It’s kickball for crying out loud! On top of that it’s an 18-older tourney so I can watch a bunch of grown men and women squabble on the field over a game they probably haven’t played since their elementary days.
It should be fun.
I know someone who’s not having fun this week. Alex Rodriguez.
I had the rare opportunity to catch a major league game on Monday night when I went to Chi-town to see the Sox play the Yanks with a group of middle school kids. Lo and behold it was the first day A-Rod was slated to play baseball this year amidst controversy galore.
The thing about it was that we weren’t sure all day Monday whether we’d get to see him play or not because of the suspension talks.
Now I don’t want to fool you into a false sense that I wanted to see him play. Actually, I’m appalled at the process in the MLB to allow a guy who has been admittedly ruining the game of baseball for most of his career to step on the field because of a technicality.
It’s that whole, “innocent until proven guilty” theory that a player should be allowed to appeal his suspension. Well, that’s a good thing to have in place when the player in question may be innocent. This is not one of those times.
What A-Rod is appealing is the LENGTH of the suspension, not that he should be suspended. Without fighting his guilt, what is the scholarly reason we’re still letting him play baseball? There’s no mystery here. He cheated. He should be out.
Anyways...all that to say that the reason I wanted to see him on the field was to witness the reaction from the White Sox faithful.
I wasn’t disappointed on that front.
From the moment he took the field to do his pre-game stretching and running routine, #13 was bombarded with fans who crowded the front row along the first baseline and shouting obscenities at him.
I had to tell a few of the middle school kids to put their “earmuffs” on because of some of the language but some of the insults were actually pretty clever.
A clean one that stuck with me the whole game was “A-Fraud”. Another good one was “A-Roid”.
When the game actually started and he came up to bat in the second inning, the crowd reaction in US Cellular Field was as if Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, and the CEO from BP all stepped out of the dugout at once and flipped everyone the bird.
There were several middle school girls who heard the boos and asked me why everyone hated A-Rod so much. As a chaperone on the trip, I just had to smile. I forget sometimes that not everyone’s job is to know what’s going on in the sports world.
Even after I explained what the fuss was about, the girls just felt sorry for him and cheered anyways.
Some people’s kids, I tell ya...
Even the Yankee fans who made it out to the game were hating on A-Rod. It could be easy to get torn on the subject if you’re a fan of the pinstripes until you remember that your team has such a rich history of players who defined the game WITHOUT using enhancements.
Even Babe Ruth, one of the most notorious drunks in sports, was a model citizen of the game he loved so much. Yeah, he was a jerk. Yeah, he smoked, drank, and ate with reckless abandon, but the guy called his own shot for crying out loud. That took guts.
So A-Rod had his day under the boo birds in Chicago, then the below .500 Sox swept the Yankees. It was a good week.
Depending on what happens in the next few weeks, I still feel like I was a part of history at that game. I wonder how many of the fans there felt the same way. Like we were witnessing the changing of the guard or something.
A-Rod may not have a lot of games left in him at his age. Barry Bonds tried to make a comeback after his trial at age 41 but no teams wanted to nibble on the what-ifs he would bring to the team. I feel like it’ll be the same way with Rodriguez if he gets a full year suspension. Who would want a 40-year old former ‘roider?