October 09, 2007

Having been a sportsman throughout my youth, I learned early on never to second guess athletes. One day you can’t miss a backhand even if you try, as they say—and the next you’re flailing like a dowager. Fans don’t ever get it. Nor do sportwriters. If A-Rod is having a hell of a year, it means that he will have a hell of a playoff.

If only it were that simple. I just watched the Yankees lose the fourth and final game to the Indians. A-Rod played well, but not for A-Rod, because he didn’t deliver under pressure, the sign of true greatness.  What is painful for me (as a journalist) is that last summer that I could have had an exclusive, in Waugh’s word, a “scoop.”
It seems that in balmy months, A-Rod went to see a friend of mine who sells very expensive Manhattan apartments. She showed him some of the best and he liked them. Then, suddenly, he rang her and told her he was no longer interested. (He showed this courtesy because he’s a gentleman—and it doesn’t hurt that she’s pretty. In another courtesy to locals, he batted in more than 150 runs and hit some 56 homers that year.)

From these events, it’s apparent that A-Rod decided back in the summer that he was through with New York City. (Who can blame him?) Had my realtor friend told me that A-Rod had lost interest in buying a flat here in the Big Bagel, I would have known that no matter what happened, this great player and attractive gent, had decided to move to Los Angeles long ago. It is not very important, but I find it amusing that sportwriters missed the signals.

I used to be a great Yankee fan because of my friendship with Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin, starting in 1956. Despite George Steinbrenner, I have remained a Yankee fan, almost. What saddens me is the departure of Joe Torre. If pro athletes had his dignity and grace, some of us would still trust and love pro sports. Goodbye Joe. May your successor have a scintilla of your elegance.


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