Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Hate.


Still staggered from the 6-0 loss to the Tigers this evening, I'll briefly report on one of the ugliest recurring elements of nationwide Yankee hatred. With the game well out of reach in the eighth, the crowd cheered as a Zumaya fastball soared out of the strike zone and past Alex Rodriguez's head. Rodriguez had already been beaned once in the game, by Rogers, but it is worth noting the cheering of the near miss, something I've seen quite often over his three seasons in the Bronx. It seems that the man is so hated nationwide that not only is he booed before every at-bat but road crowds actively cheer when he is close to being hit.
The game was well over at this point, and Zumaya was clearly not throwing at Rodriguez, not with a six run lead and with no grudge or history between them. He had just come out of the bullpen, and was a little wild with his first 102 mile an hour fastball. Perfectly reasonable. The proper crowd reaction to something like this should be a small gasp, and probably would have been for any other player. No one wants to see a decisive victory by the home team marred a player hit in the head by probably the most dangerous pitch harnessed by anyone in the game. Or at least no one should, but Rodriguez is hated so much that the fans were excited when he came close to a Piazza or even Ray Chapman moment. We've all been watching normal games when suddenly a batter is hit in the head, or a pitcher is hit by a line drive, or two fielders colide on a play. On field baseball injuries are painful and cringe-worthy to watch. Play pauses as the cameras show closeups of concerned players on both teams, and frozen, silenced fans in the stands. Always at the end of one of these injury delays, whether the player is taken off in a stretcher or gamely limps down to first base, he recieves a nice hand from the crowd, home or away. We've all seen this happen during a game. This is what those fans were hoping for when that fastball slipped out of Zumaya's control and toward Alex Rodriguez's head.
People are focused on the reaction Terrell Owens will recieve on Sunday in Philadelphia, but he may not even be the most hated athlete in America. He'll probably be knocked down several times to raucous cheers, but I doubt he'll be exposed to anything as dangerous as the possiblity of a 102 mile an hour fastball to the head. Considering his standing with his own fans, Zumaya's pitch might have been cheered even at Yankee Stadium. Hopefully, Rodriguez will have another chance to improve his image, at least to Yankee fans, over the next two days.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Major Kong said...

Regardless of whether Rodriguez wins over the fans or not, what do you think the Yankee brass is beginning to think of this situation? And would they dare trade him?
I think they will certainly explore it, and some of the rumors I have heard, especially the one involving Ervin Santana, sound pretty tasty. Then Rodriguez could toil where fans only see players in their best possible light. It would mean several extra trips to Seattle and Texas every year, but I'm sure he could handle it compared to the abuse he's received from his home fans this year.

Sat Oct 07, 12:54:00 PM EDT  
Blogger David Bowie said...

He's hitting eighth today. Eighth! Eighth! Chaos.

Sat Oct 07, 04:25:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Major Kong said...

That proves that Joe Torre can watch him play every day and still not evaluate how good a hitter he is...

Sat Oct 07, 05:32:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Andrew said...

I would love, love, love to see A-Rod on the Angels. I actually kind of root for A-Rod sometimes because I feel bad for all the unnecessary shit that he puts up with, but in these last few games I will root for him to strikeout each AB (preferably by swinging at balls two feet above his head), and get driven out of town by Yankee fans.

Sat Oct 07, 05:34:00 PM EDT  
Blogger David Bowie said...

I want Kendrick as well as Ervin, and another pitcher, maybe Scott Shields.

Sat Oct 07, 07:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Craig said...

There are two reasons why you would let Rodriguez go somewhere else - because he isn't clutch enough, and because you would save money by trading away his contract. The irony, of course, is that the reason that is patently ridiculous will be the only reason that fans accept, and the reason that makes all the sense in the world will be laughed out of the room.

Word is that Lou Piniella will be managing the Yankees next year.

Sun Oct 08, 01:55:00 AM EDT  
Blogger David Bowie said...

The third reason, which my friend Duker argued convincingly for this evening, is to eliminate the distraction for the rest of the team, the franchise, and the fans. The idea is that the frenzy around the man has gotten to be so much that despite his production, it might be worth it to trade him for a good return, specifically a great young pitcher plus.
I don't quite agree with that, but it's certainly better than most of the angry irrational ones we're going to hear all winter.

Sun Oct 08, 02:39:00 AM EDT  
Blogger David Bowie said...

There will be a big post tomorrow, eulogising this team, which I will write sometime in the afternoon during the time in which game five could have been played.

Sun Oct 08, 02:40:00 AM EDT  

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