By Ernie Palladino
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As we wait for the news of the Alex Rodriguez suspension to tumble down from Bud Selig’s perch high atop Mount Baseball, the Yankees would serve themselves well to consider turning at least part of this mess into a positive.
Do something for the fans, the ones who faithfully come out and sit in those expensive seats, whether behind the plate or in the bleachers, to watch this injury-depleted, controversy-entangled team. Do something to show them they count.
Feed them. People love free grub. And they love even more the people handing it out to them. For an organization that could surely use a dose of good will right now, the way to a disgusted fan’s heart is definitely through his stomach.
Do it in September, whether the Yanks are still in the postseason hunt or not. But do it especially if they make up the 3 1/2-game gap between themselves and the second Wild Card spot in the American League. It would be a public-relations coup, something the Yanks have never seemed to consider.
You win 27 World Series titles, you tend not to worry about things like that. But this year, with the A-Rod nonsense hanging a permanent cloud over whatever happens? Perfect time.
The Milwaukee Brewers just bought themselves a ton of good feeling when they announced that each fan attending any of their 12 August dates at Miller Field will receive a $10 voucher, to be used at any of the stadium’s concessions stands. It’ll cost the organization about $3.6 million, or slightly more than they would have paid their PED-powered slugger Ryan Braun if he had not been suspended without pay for the rest of the season.
In effect, they’re funneling the money saved from Braun’s paycheck back to the fans.
Now, considering A-Rod is going to get whacked even harder than Braun, imagine what the Yanks could do with the savings. It has been reported that Selig is prepared to suspend A-Rod for violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which means he would not be able to play or get paid during the appeal his representatives have threatened. Assuming the suspension comes down this week, the Yanks stand to save more than $8 million of his $28 million salary for 2013.
Imagine what they can do with $8 million over their final 14 home games. Steak and lobster for everybody! Or two Yankee Stadium beers, whichever is more expensive.
This is not to compare the teams’ respective circumstances. The Brewers are mired in last place, hopelessly out of the picture. They’re just trying to fill seats at this point, and have additional promotions planned.
The Yanks, though they have yet to truly break out of their power slump despite the recent production of Derek Jeter and newly-signed Alfonso Soriano, still have a shot at something. It’s entirely possible that Wednesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline could change that roster significantly if they find someone willing to take Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain or both for something resembling quality. The Phillies’ hard-hitting third baseman Michael Young, perhaps?
They don’t really need friends at this point, but it wouldn’t hurt. This A-Rod thing is not going to go away with the suspension, whether it’s for the rest of this season and next, or a lifetime ban. Selig is bent on punishing him, and if A-Rod’s lawyers are to be believed, they’re ready to use all avenues to appeal it.
This could stretch on endlessly, especially if his lawyers mount a federal legal challenge. If media reports are accurate, MLB has an Everest-high stack of evidence that shows the third baseman not only used PEDs, but obstructed baseball’s investigation into Anthony Bosch’s Biogenesis lab through intimidation of witnesses and the purchase of incriminating documents.
If you think the ugliness ends with his punishment, think again. It’s far from over.
Which means the Yankees could use a little positive PR at this point. Direct some of those salary savings back to the fans. Feed them. A couple of hot dogs and a beer will go a long way.
Some will appreciate it. Some, especially those who believe all this steroid outrage is a bunch of hypocritical hooey, won’t care.
But everyone will like it.
Ya gotta eat, right?
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