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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Earning Forgiveness

Days like today make me want to live in Tampa again.  My fond memories of sitting in the beautiful, Florida sunshine at Legend's Field make me smile.  On Friday pitchers and catchers reported for spring training!  I'll just have to pretend that I can sit there with a cold beer cheering for my pinstripes.

The line up is promising, as it is every year.  There's the hope that Masahiro Tanaka's elbow is all patched up and that he's feeling like the hero we Yankee fans want him to be.  There's the possibility of that Mississippi kid, Jacob Lindgren jumping out of the minors and chucking that 90+ mph ball at fear filled hitters.  There's chatter about a 6 man rotation protecting our pitchers' arms for the long game.  Oh the excitement is building!

Today though, what I really want to write about is A. Rod.  Last year and basically every post season since he started playing on this beloved team, he has been a stitch in the fans' sides.  He's let us down time and again.  We've bank rolled his world for years with very little return on investment.  He's used PEDs and lied about it.  We have been ashamed of him when we just want to be proud of his hitting capability, especially in post season.  Instead we've had to call him a bum.

Last week, his handwritten letter was delivered to the Yankee organization.     He's apologized for last year's embarrassment.  In this letter he claimed that he wants to "put this chapter behind" him.  At spring training will he bring his "A" game?  Should we trust him?  Or is he still a bum?

Many people aren't baseball fans, and I won't hold that against them.  Baseball is just a game.  Most people aren't real fans of forgiveness either.  This is where we humans have to be a bit careful.  Should we forgive when someone has requested a pardon?

This player accepted his punishment.  For his poor judgement, he was handed the longest suspension in baseball history.  He dropped his stupid lawsuit and accepted his punishment, as he should.  The problem is he was still on the Yankee payroll as we watched our beloved Jeter play his farewell season.  It would have been nice to have a healthy team to let #2 have a winning season on his way out.  Oh well, it just wasn't in the cards.

The Yankees are facing a new season.  Alex Rodriguez would like forgiveness and the chance to just play ball.  A glimmer of hope twinkles on the spring's horizon.  It is doubtful that any true fan can let him back with open arms.  We're New Yorkers.  We forgive, but we will never forget.  He is going to have to earn his spot, just like every other player.

Herein lies the lesson.  Though people may ask for forgiveness, it may not be in our best interest to give it without them actually earning it.  People offering forgiveness can be a positive influence in the life of someone seeking forgiveness.  Blanket forgiveness, however can make that same group of forgivers feel stupid.  This is tricky.  

To be beloved Mr. Rodgriguez, you have to behave in a way that fans will always support you.  You have to be "Mr. Baseball".  These shoes are very large and very difficult to fill.  It'd be great if you could come out on that field and play ball the way we all hope that you can.  Let's put that embarrassment behind us.  Get out your bat!  Show Girardi that you are for the team and not for yourself.

Baseball can teach many lessons in real life and forgiveness is one of them.  By all means give your support to someone who is returning from a terribly embarrassing situation.  Open your arms to them, but do so with conditions.  For a person to truly change their own life, they have to earn their position back.  The spotlight and a world of criticism will be on them after their mistake.  Being a rock for someone wishing to rebuild themselves is a beautiful place to live.  Just make sure that they don't carry a pick axe in their pocket.

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