Interesting thoughts from Joel Sherman in the Post -
On this day — momentous day in the pinstripe parlance — the Yankees welcomed Masahiro Tanaka. In this version of the Stadium. In a large space called the Legends Club. With hundreds of media members there to chronicle it all, click hundreds of pictures, give it that feeling of red carpet and inauguration rolled into one.
Ten years ago this week, it was across the street. At the previous Stadium. In what was called the Stadium Club. Again there were a few hundred media. And, yes, all the same grand themes, those wondrous visions of greatness and championships.
That coronation was for Alex Rodriguez, and you shouldn’t let time and the revelations of time cloud your memory. The Yanks essentially held a group high-five. They not only had snared the best player in the game at 28, but had pulled him away from the clutches of the Red Sox. The theme was that they had Ruth-ed Boston yet again, assuring another eight decades of misery in New England, more parades in New York.
George Steinbrenner hailed this “a big, big one,” calling it another Reggie moment, praising Rodriguez as “an outstanding young fellow.” The general manager then and now, Brian Cashman, used the word “ecstatic” to describe his feelings about consummating this “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Joe Torre — yep Joe Torre — lauded not only A-Rod’s ability, but “class.”
And then, on this, another mid-February day a decade later, A-Rod’s was the name not to be spoken. At the first Yankees function since Rodriguez withdrew his lawsuits against MLB and commissioner Bud Selig, and against the players’ union, team officials seemed as anxious to comment on that legal maneuver as they would, say, their history of sexually transmitted diseases.
Hal Steinbrenner, who sat on the dais for both of these auspicious events, said, “I’m not getting into that because we are not here today to talk about that.”
Cashman delivered a no comment. Manager Joe Girardi said something, but nothing at the same time.
And if there is a lesson to be gleaned from any of this, it is that as much as the Yanks believe they know about Tanaka, they truly go into the marriage not knowing nearly enough, almost certainly way less than they knew about A-Rod.
Here’s the thing: There’s always something about the incoming player that people chose to ignore. With Jason Giambi, it was the clear signs that he was juicing – but the Yankees looked the other way. With A-Rod, if you really thought about it and looked hard, without blinders, there were signs there that he was a rectum. But, the Yankees looked the other way.
Think about it – every major free agent that the Yankees have signed for huge bucks, who later became an issue, had something that was a clue that the Yankees overlooked or ignored when they celebrated his signing.
Is there something about Tanaka? Maybe…
For sure, there’s the whole Japanese pitcher conversion to America thing. And, it’s a big one.
And, I suppose there’s a chance that personality, make-up, attitude could be things to be concerned about as well.
As a Yankees fan, you just hope this turns out like a Matsui or Mussina thing and the signing pays off. But, when you really think about it, how many of these have turned out this way in the Brian Cashman world of looking the other way?