CC Sabathia had to wonder yesterday: where's the place in his new contract that stated, "By signing here, player also commits to all necessary excercises considered to be of the team-building variety, such as organization-sponsored community service, team meals, training sessions and/or team re-inforcement activities not beyond or limited to public admissions of steroid use by publicly-scorned teammates."
Sign on the dotted line, new Yank.
Yesterday, when some 26 fellow Yankees marched into a tented area outside Steinbrenner Field in Tampa for the hastily built set of a press conference, they didn't look like a vision of moral support. They looked like a group of depressed overgrown boys, as thankful to Alex Rodriguez for this team-building excercise as they would be to a science teacher holding a detention to show them the value of being on time to class.
The Yankees do have a semblance of serious leadership in the form of Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, but this is still the Bronx Zoo in the modern era. It's a new band of mercenaries with name tags, and with newly minted distractions.
Jorge Posada said, "We need our best player and that's Alex. He's our cleanup hitter, and a guy that we're going to rally around and protect. We're going to do everything possible to make him feel normal, to make everything feel normal."
Normal like he, Jeter and Rivera felt when the clubhouse turned into a circus after Jason Giambi's similar admissions a few years back? Normal like the team feels when they are asked questions about a possible rift between A-Rod and Jeter, or A-Rod and Madonna? Normal like when the team is greeted in February by a tell-all book from a guy who was managing them just 18 months earlier? Normal like working for one domineering, threatening, meddling owner who hands off the reigns to a son who claims to be different then proves he's a chip off the ol' block within hours?
The Yankees will make A-Rod feel normal alright, just as he'll return the favor.
"This is Humpty Dumpty," General Manager Brian Cashman told the New York Times. "We got to put him back together again. We got to put him back up on that wall."
Message to the new guys: You're the wall.
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