|The Rodriguez fans despise|
Yet it has been just over a decade (the Yankees' first ball game after the World Trade Towers incident of
Sept. 11, 2001 was in Chicago against the White Sox) since anyone nationally was paying attention to the activity at U.S. Cellular Field just because of the presence of the Bronx Bombers.
THE YANKEES ARE in town this week for a three-game series beginning Monday against the Chicago White Sox. Our city’s Sox are struggling to avoid 100 losses, while the Yanks are coping with severe injuries to so many key players that it’s a wonder they have a winning record these days.
|The Rodriguez fans used to love|
But the reason the Yankees’ arrival in town is a big deal is because of the third baseman Alex Rodriguez – who has been one of the injured. He has yet to play a single game for the Yankees this season. Although in recent days, he has been undergoing minor league therapy in Trenton, N.J., and theoretically could play his first major league game on Monday.
Which could mean the White Sox faithful (along with the Midwestern-based Yankees fans who make their one visit to “the Cell” when they come to town) will get to see Rodriguez – and heckle him unmercifully.
|Do Yankees fans want to crop him out?|
We could be treated to the spectacle this week (my brother, Chris, and I will be at the stadium for Tuesday’s game) of Chicago showing its contempt for Rodriguez at its most intense level.
THEN AGAIN, MAYBE we won’t.
Because Rodriguez is one of a few ballplayers who are suspected of using certain chemical substances to enhance their strength and make themselves appear to be better ballplayers than they would otherwise be.
But officials say that Rodriguez’ involvement, and efforts to cover up, may be at a higher level. Which is why the speculation is that Rodriguez will be suspended on Monday for the remainder of 2013 and the entire 2014 season.
|The beginning of the big-money era|
If it turns out that Rodriguez is able to play on Monday (the speculation Sunday is that he will appeal his penalty, and will be allowed to play while the appeal is pending), he’s in for a hellish experience. Although I suspect even if he’s not able to play, the fans who turn out on Monday (and to lesser levels Tuesday and Wednesday) will make their level of contempt known.
THERE’S NO WAY to shut up a sports fan who feels compelled to boo and razz someone!
I’ll be honest. When I’m at the ballgame, I’m probably going to be more focused on the level of intensity expressed against Rodriguez than I will be on the game itself.
The Yankees may be able to boost their quality of play this month and next and still qualify for a playoff spot (that’s more likely than the White Sox being able to turn 2013 into a season with a winning record). But it likely is a “lost” season for both ball clubs.
The heckling level will be more memorable than the game itself. Although considering it will be the first ballgame I’ve made it out to this season, it will still be a pleasurable experience just for being live baseball.
SO THE YANKS are coming. Oft-injured shortstop Derek Jeter is likely to be in the lineup on Monday – after having sat out a weekend series against the San Diego Padres. We’ll get to see former Chicago Cub Alfonso Soriano, who is trying to show that his Cub-like quality of play was a fluke. A victory or two this week would be the highlight of the White Sox' season!
|Coming back to the old neighborhood|
Although the most memorable thing may well be center fielder Curtis “C.J.” Granderson – a Chicago-area native who plays for New York, but plans to spend some time this week with kids in suburban Lansing and Lynwood just to promote their interest in baseball as a game.
Considering how much of the contempt level felt by baseball fans for Rodriguez is because of his record-setting contract, it is nice to see at least one ballplayer who hasn’t forgotten where he comes from and is willing to give something back to his home community.