The older I get the more I wonder why people with so much always seem to want more. Alex Rodriguez had escaped the precipice of a public shaming, when he admitted before the 2009 season that he had used steroids and then put together the greatest postseason of his life to lead the Yankees to their 27th World Championship. He could have stayed off the juice after that for the rest of his career, let his performance simply decline naturally, collect his mega-millions in salary and gone off into the sunset in a few years with at least a portion of his reputation intact.
But no, Rodriguez doesn’t think like that. He never has. The happiness fuel for this guy’s life is playing baseball and being adored because of how well he does it. The adoration part of that formula was whittled away by diminished performance on the field. Steroids help athletes build abnormal muscle mass but the problem is that the human skeleton is not designed to support it. A-Rod’s hips gave away and he will never again hit 30 homers in a season or drive in 100 runs.
Rodriguez wasn’t ready to accept that so he did something about it. He found a sleazy Miami-based hormone lab operator who supposedly could help him continue to cheat without getting caught. Yesterday, the arbitrator’s ruling confirmed for Rodriguez that he got caught. So now in addition to never again being admired or respected for anything he does on the baseball field, A-Rod has locked his own Yankee Stadium gate, preventing himself from doing what he most loved to do, for at least a year but quite possibly forever.
A-Rod is not the only culprit here. The Commissioner and the Yankee ownership knew full well that many of their players were using drugs to enhance their performances and as long as the money was rolling in because of those enhanced performances, the powers that be looked the other way and most likely even encouraged it. Like I wrote at the beginning of this post, the older I get the more I wonder why people with so much always seem to want more.
My first memory of Clete Boyer was of him playing third base for the great New York Yankee team of 1961. I can still see him in his number 6 pinstriped jersey, making a diving stop on a hard hit ground ball down the line and jumping to his feet to throw a bullet to Moose Skowron with his powerful right arm to nip an opposing runner at first base. Just one season before, Casey Stengel had almost destroyed Boyer’s confidence by pinch-hitting Dale Long for him in the second inning of the very first game of the 1960 World Series. Ralph Houk had replaced Stengel in 1961 and assured Boyer he would be New York’s every day third baseman. Clete was constantly among league leaders in assists, chances and double plays but he would watch Brooks Robinson win the AL Gold Glove for third baseman year in and year out. Boyer had to leave the league to win his first and only Gold Glove for Atlanta, in 1969.
Clete was not a great hitter but his offensive numbers with New York would have been better if he did not occupy the eighth spot in the Yankee lineup. With the pitcher hitting behind him, Boyer saw very few strikes and was too aggressive at the plate to work the count effectively. As a result, he usually hit in the .240s and struck out close to 100 times a year during his Yankee career. But he also had enough power to hit 95 home runs during his eight seasons in New York, a respectable number considering that he played half his games in a Yankee Stadium that was not at all conducive to right-handed power.
Boyer was the Yankees’ regular third baseman for seven seasons, winning five pennants and two World Series during that time. He was one of the few veterans on the team not to experience a drastic decline in his offensive numbers during the debacle seasons of 1965 and ’66. Still, he was purged during the mid-sixties house-cleaning that saw New York trade one veteran after another in return for mediocre players who would never succeed with the Yankees. In Boyer’s case, he was swapped for a young outfielder from the Braves named Bill Robinson who hit just .206 during three dreadful seasons in pinstripes. Meanwhile, Boyer had a career year his first season in Atlanta, with 26 home runs and 96 RBIs in 1967. Clete remained with the Braves until he retired as a player after the 1971 season.
Born in Cassville, MO, in 1937, Clete was one of 14 Boyer children. His older brothers, Cloyd, a pitcher and Ken, a third baseman and one-time NL MVP with St Louis, also played in the big leagues. Clete died in 2007. He shares his February 9th birthday with another third baseman who played on the great 1927 Yankee team, this one-time Yankee second base prospect and this one-time Yankee catching prospect.
Number 1 – Alex Rodriguez – Passed Nettles in both home runs and RBIs as a Yankee in 2010 even though he’s played 500 fewer games.
Number 2 – Graig Nettles – Won two rings, two Gold Gloves, hit most home runs, and played most games as Yankee third baseman.
Number 3 – Red Rolfe – A .289 lifetime hitter with five rings and a great glove.
Number 4 – Clete Boyer
Number 5 – Wade Boggs – Won two rings, two Gold Gloves and averaged .313 in pinstripes.
|NYY (8 yrs)||1068||4037||3658||434||882||140||25||95||393||27||297||608||.241||.298||.371||.669|
|ATL (5 yrs)||533||2105||1914||193||467||56||7||66||251||13||159||282||.244||.303||.384||.687|
|KCA (3 yrs)||124||226||208||18||47||4||1||1||10||1||14||41||.226||.278||.269||.547|
December 30th is one of the few days of the year on which no Yankee,
past or present was born. So last year on this date, I presented this
“Top Ten Yankees of the Decade” post. This year, I thought I’d condense
that a bit and discuss who the five players are who’ve contributed the
most to Yankee baseball over the past five years.
1. Derek Jeter – this list has to start with “The Captain.” Despite
his first-ever mediocre year in 2010 and the needless and very
derogatory comments made about him by the Yankee front office during
his just-completed contract negotiation, Jeter remains the classiest
act in all of baseball and is still the straw that stirs this Yankee
team. I’m predicting he will be back better than ever in 2011.
2. Robinson Cano – His awesome 2010 regular season performance and
the fact that he finally put together some offense in a postseason has
convinced me that this guy has the entire package necessary to be
baseball’s best second baseman for at least the next five years.
3. Mariano Rivera – The only reason he is not number two on my list
is the inability of the rest of New York’s pitching staff to get him
any save situations in this year’s ALCS against Texas. The best closer
4. Alex Rodriguez – Has become the all-time greatest third baseman
in Yankee franchise history but his recent injuries and longer term
power outages may be evidence of the magic of performance enhancing
pharmaceuticals unhappening right before our eyes.
5. You decide who belongs in this slot and let the rest of our
readers know by posting your answer in the “comments” section below.
Candidates include Pettitte, Sabathia, Matsui, Teixeira, Damon, Posada,