Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
I Had the Strangest Dream Last Night
2004-02-15 10:54
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Oh, you think I could actually sleep? Fat chance, man. But when I woke up this morning and jumped on-line, there it was: Alex Rodriguez is going to play for the Yankees. Here is some of the media coverage this morning: John Heyman, who first broke this story, in Newsday;Mike Lupica and John Harper in The Daily News; Mike Vaccaro in The Post; Jack Curry and William Rhoden in The New York Times; T.R. Sullivan in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Gordon Edes and Bob Ryan in The Boston Globe; Ken Rosenthal in The Sporting News; and finally, Buster Olney at

I spoke with Rich Lederer for close to two hours last night. I asked if this made him hate the Yankees more, and he said that it didn't. What he did find upsetting as a baseball fan was the prospect of Rodriguez—the greatest shortstop not named Wagner—moving to third in the prime of his career.

Last November, Steven Goldman asked the question:

So Derek Jeter, what are you willing to do for your team?

Is it asking too much of a player with the ego necessary to be a star in professional sports (for that indomitable will to always appear at one's best is as much generated by self-adulation as by a sense of honor) to swallow his pride and admit that another man is his better? This winter Jeter and the Yankees have an excellent chance to demonstrate that pride of winning comes before pride of self.

Now that the chance is a reality, there is already talk about who should play short, Rodriguez or Jeter. Jack Curry notes that Rodriguez is the better defender:

Eventually, whether it is two months or two years, whoever is managing the Yankees might be forced to recognize Rodriguez's superiority at shortstop. Since Rodriguez moved positions so willingly, how would Jeter look if a manager asked him to shift positions and he complained? Jeter, the team's captain, could be accused of putting himself ahead of the team.

One American League scout said he would start Rodriguez at shortstop and move the softer-throwing yet athletic Jeter to second base to replace Alfonso Soriano. That dynamic duo could rule the middle of the infield and the city for several years, letting Rodriguez personally discover everything he ever wanted to know about living and playing in New York.

Ken Rosenthal adds:

Rodriguez is a far better defensive shortstop than Jeter, and it would be counterproductive for A-Rod to abandon shortstop at age 28 to accommodate a lesser fielder — albeit one who has led the Yankees to four World Series titles.

...Jeter surely wouldn't want to move, but his defense would be under immense and unpleasant scrutiny if the Yankees kept him at short with Rodriguez looking over his right shoulder. Learning to turn the double play at second is not easy, but with Jeter at second the Yankees could be far stronger up the middle than they were with Jeter and Alfonso Soriano.

Let the debate begin. A cold front hit New York last night, but man, it feels hotter than July in the Bronx.

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