Yankees And A-Rod: There’s Something To Be Said For Redemption

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees and A-Rod, to put it mildly, have had a checkered past. But, there is something to be said for redemption, and Hal Steinbrenner, more than anyone perhaps, seems to recognize that and is grooming Rodriguez for a wider role with the organization.

Yankees managing partner, Hal Steinbrenner, will forever be shadowed by his father. Nevertheless, he has strived, and for the most part succeeded, in becoming his own man. But there appears to be one area in which both men are alike. They both have a soft spot for the underdog and a belief that every man has a right to redeem himself in the face of adversity and past mistakes.

George Steinbrenner, you’ll recall, took both Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry under his wings at a time when no one would go near them. In 1996, Strawberry rewarded The Boss for his faith, hitting 11 regular-season home runs and collecting 36 RBI in just 63 games. During the playoffs, Strawberry made his most significant contributions to the team, batting .417 with three home runs in the American League Championship Series, including two in Game 4.

And who can forget the image of Dwight Gooden being carried off the field by his teammates after pitching a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium?

This is not about forgiving and forgetting. It’s about moving on from the past. And Hal Steinbrenner seems to get that.

In a similar vein, Alex Rodriguez is being granted a chance that very few men are fortunate to have. Let’s be clear, though. There is nothing that can erase the, shall we say, “inconsistencies” in A-Rod’s behavior, especially as it relates to the Yankees. His tendency to fill the back pages of New York newspapers with negativity remains fresh in our memory.

But, this is not about forgiving and forgetting. It’s about moving on from the past. And Hal Steinbrenner seems to get that.

It would be safe to say that Hal Steinbrenner sees a wider role for Rodriguez in the Yankees organization. He’s probably not sure himself what that role will be, but he’s taking some baby steps with Rodriguez as part of a grooming process that is in its infant stages but bound to be just the beginning.

And for those who would say, “Aw, come on, Steve. He’s just acting like he’s changed”, I would mean that you are correct. And that’s because we are all actors on a stage. I take the stage every day in my classroom when I try to teach prison inmates who are grown men how to divide fractions. Trust me, that requires some real acting for it to work.

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Alex Rodriguez has been on a bigger stage, though, for his entire life. From the time he burst upon the baseball scene as a nineteen-year-old shortstop with the Seattle Mariners, to his signing of the biggest contract (at the time) with the Yankees, to his quasi-admissions of steroids use, to the rain-soaked ceremony that concluded his career as a player, A-Rod, throughout each episode has been a stellar actor. Albeit with different roles dependent on the circumstances.

He must know that he is being tested, and as a man who is “growing up” (finally) before our eyes, he does not want to ruin what he has to know is his ninth and final life in baseball. For Rodriguez, much like a recovering crack addict, it’s a process that needs to fulfill itself over time.

So, for Steinbrenner, it’s a process in which he makes a decision as to where Rodriguez fits best into the Yankees organization. Beginning on Tuesday and over the next three days, rave reviews will circulate about how well he “relates” to the young players in camp when he takes the field in uniform as an instructor.

He will take it upon himself to pull Dellin Betances aside, as C C Sabathia has already done, for a little father-son chat regarding the events on Saturday. And he will volunteer to sign balls for the young guys who might be too “embarrassed” to ask for his signature.

Rumors are already circulating, as indicated by this ESPN story that Rodriguez has been tagged as the next manager of the Yankees. Hey, don’t laugh. It’s not out of the realm of possibilities.

In fact, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility. And it could be that Rodriguez decides to maintain a reduced role with the Yankees, taking on instead a full-time spot with Fox-TV where he has already earned mega-star status as an analyst.

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It’s a story that merits following, though. And whichever way it goes, it’ll be both entertaining and instructive to observe both Steinbrenner and Rodriguez as they tippy-toe their way through the process of seeing what’s next for A-Rod.