It was just 36 years ago that Reggie Jackson uttered those famous words, "I'm the straw that stirs the drink." That was the harbinger of controversies, escapades, fights and feuds that would highlight Reggie's five-year term with the Yanks. He fought with Steinbrenner, with Billy Martin, with Thurman Munson and irritated everyone within earshot - sometimes beyond. He meant, of course, that he would be the key to the Yanks offense, and ultimately he was correct. He should have just BEEN the straw and "shut the f*** up about it," but Reggie's mouth was like a runaway train: there was no stopping it.
***THEY BREAK THE BACKS OF GEN. MANAGERS.***
Now we have another player who's problem is somewhat different. His 'straws' fall from the sky without warning, hitting when you least expect them, but always, always devastating when they land. Alex Rodriquez, recuperating from hip surgery in Florida, should have been out-of-sight AND out-of mind, but he found ways to be neither.
Every minute bit of progression of Derek Jeter's rehab was reported in the NY papers, right down to how many ground balls he took, to the percentage of speed he exerted when running the bases.
But not A-Rod. When any Yankee official was asked about his progress, the answer was a very bland, "He's coming along nicely." In the meantime, A-Rod gave no interviews, appeared in no nightclubs and worked out in virtual secrecy. But you can't hold a good man - or a big mouth - down for long.
A-Rod has tweeted that he's been cleared to play ball. General Manager Brian Cashman isn't ready to admit that, and prefers that A-Rod not say that - or as Cashman put it, "A-Rod should just shut the f*** up!" This may have finally been the language that A-Rod understands, because there has been no response from him since.
Cashman wasn't upset about being upstaged, because the rehab and readiness issue is a complex one. Once the Yanks declare a player is ready to rehab, they have 20 days to either put him on the ML roster or assign him to the minors. Cleared to live a normal life by a medical physician is different from being able to perform baseball functions. These two things may be a ways apart. So Cashman has a legitimate point here and not just a childish tantrum over an A-Rod announcement. You can't afford a player on the roster who isn't ready to play.
To be fair, if a professional athlete has been unable to participate in his sport for a long time, naturally he's a bit giddy when told he's reached a great milestone, even if it isn't the final one.
And this is the big difference between the two straws. Reggie didn't care that his would be controversial, A-Rod never realizes that his will be.
***AN INTERESTING GAME***
The Yanks and the Rangers played a game last night in which six home runs were hit. With that many homers, you'd expect the score to be something in the neighborhood of 12-9. Instead, the final score was
4-3, the Yanks winning on Ichiro Suzuki's two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth. A game more reminiscent of the Bronx Bombers of the past. Go Yanks.
***THEY SAID IT***
"The victory parade for the Miami Heat traveled 5 mph. Because it's South Florida, it was in the fast lane." -- Brad Dickson
"Shanghai just finished hosting an international convention for scrap dealers. Even the NBA hasn't had so much trash-talking." -- RJ Currie
"The Los Angeles Clippers are getting rid of coach Vinny Del Negro: “Sources say the ownership liked his style, but felt he had violated a time-honored Clippers tradition of finishing last and losing 50-plus games per year.” -- Brad Rock
"There may be no truth to the rumor that San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is prepared to leave for Boston where he would coach the Celtics and be Boston Pop" -- Gregg Drinnan
"Brian Urlacher is retiring after 13 years with the Chicago Bears. Experts say, in another five years, Urlacher should stop hearing Jay Cutler whining in his sleep." -- Brad Dickson
"A new study by neurologists claims to be the first evidence that by learning we generate new brain cells every day. I'm guessing the study didn't include Pacman Jones." -- RJ Currie