Tagged: Ruth

What’s Likes Got to Do With It?

I referenced a possible schism in the Yankees clubhouse in my last post.  Possible, ****.  Everyone knows it exists.  It was documented last year.

A lot of people don’t like ARod.

I can understand why.  There’s a certain phoniness to that All-American hero image he has carefully cultivated.  That’s what made the Stray Rod story work.  If it had been Jason Giambi, do you think anyone would have blinked?  But in all fairness to Rodriguez, he is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.  We claim we want him to be a role model.  Then if he acts like one, we condemn him for the act.

But nevertheless I understand why a lot of people don’t like ARod.  My question is: what the **** does that have to do with anything?  What is it about baseball culture in this day and age that ‘likes’ is so important?  Winning used to be.  Performance used to be.  Has baseball become something akin to American Idol, where we root for those we like and boo those we despise, whether or not they can sing?

The breaking of the home run record is a non-event for many.  Why?  Because they don’t like Bonds.  Barroids, schmeroids, the real issue is a visceral reaction to Bonds personality, or lack thereof.  Bonds isn’t liked.  ARod isn’t liked.

So?  Ty Cobb wasn’t liked either.  Cobb didn’t like Babe Ruth.  A lot of people didn’t like Ruth, for that matter, something forgetten in the nostalgia.  His manager, Miller Huggins, hated him.  There are reasons Ruth never got his own managerial chance, and it was certainly not because the powers that were didn’t think he could do the job.  He peeved a lot of people.

He hit 714 home runs.  So what’s likes got to do with it?

The Picasso of Baseball

There is a certain amount of grief we all feel when the past begins to dissolve, when its monuments begin to crumble.  It is inevitable, it is right, proper even.  But it is painful, forcing us to not only face our own mortality but the stark reality that all human accomplishments are all too temporal.  Even the mighty Ruth is but Ozymandias.

Like all great men, Ruth created his own world.  Ruth made us love homeruns.  Would Bonds approach to 714 matter if the homerun weren’t such a hit with the fans?  Before Ruth, homeruns were an aberration—a mistake.  Hitting the ball in the air was against any respectable hitting doctrine.  The inevitable strikeouts that result from swinging for the fences were akin to sin:  the objective was to put the ball in play.

Ruth forced baseball to rethink its principles.  He was the Pablo Picasso of baseball.  And now, like a Picasso painting, we feel disjointed as the testaments Ruth erected begin to disintegrate before our eyes.