June 12, 2012 ranks among the saddest of all days in baseball history.
Lou Gehrig will be linked with Alex Rodriguez until Rodriguez hits his 24th grand slam home run. Then Gehrig will be mentioned less when fans are informed that Rodriguez holds the career grand slam record.
Gehrig epitomizes excellence on and off the field. Rodriguez has admitted using performance-enhancing drugs.
Gehrig was grace under pressure. Rodriguez can’t take pressure.
"When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day," Rodriguez told Peter Gammons.
Gehrig was one of the finest individuals to play the game. He was a feeling, caring person. His name is synonymous with sportsmanship. Mickey Mantle is the most loved Yankee. Gehrig is the most admired.
Rodriguez has a long way to go to become loved and admired.
Remember the Bronson Arroyo incident in the 2004 playoffs, when Arroyo was covering first base and Rodriguez swatted the pitcher's glove and knocked the ball out?
It is impossible to conjure up an image of Gehrig…I must stop. I refuse to continue such a line of thought.
How about the time in Toronto when Rodriguez was on second base with two outs and Jorge Posada hit a high pop up to the left side. Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark was set to make the catch when Rodriguez ran past him and shouted either "Mine" or "I got."
Clark thought shortstop John McDonald was calling him off and the ball dropped safely.
Gehrig was a New York Yankee his entire career. He was an integral part of six world championships. He played briefly for the Yankees during their first world championship in 1923 but was physically unable to play for the 1939 champions.
Rodriguez signed with the Yankees for money and to be part of a world champion, which has happened once since he joined the team.
When he hit the home run that tied Gehrig, Rodriguez demonstrated his lack of understanding when he told the media:
Gehrig's not only one of the all-time greats, but he's one of ours. He's a Yankee. He's one of those guys that if you ever have an opportunity, when they say, 'Who would you take to dinner?' I mean, for me, he would be top four or five.
The arrogance of Rodriguez saying that Gehrig is “…one of ours.” How dare he? Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth and Derek Jeter are the Yankees.
Lou Gehrig played the game fairly. He was respected and admired by opponents, teammates and fans.
That will never be said about Alex Rodriguez.