For the first time in several seasons, The New York Yankees spring training campaign is not being dominated by scandal or distraction.
The Bombers’ third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, has consistently been at the forefront of many of these distractions. Whether it’s steroids, divorce, or Madonna, A-Rod and scandal have had a very intimate relationship in the last few years.
But this year things are different; Rodriguez has not had to handle off-the-field issues or being mauled by the media. This is not to say that Alex has stayed completely out of the headlines. During the Super Bowl, Rodriguez was caught being fed popcorn by girlfriend/actress Cameron Diaz. (Is this really news worthy? Well, define news.) In A-Rod’s first meeting with the media during spring training, instead of having to face tough questions Rodriguez sat down, and with a smile on his face, quipped, “Did anybody see the Super Bowl?”
Rodriguez got the whole matter of “Super Bowl-popcorn-gate” out of the way, and since, has not had to focus on anything besides baseball. A-Rod is pleased to have avoided anything extracurricular to confront this spring, as he was not happy with his last three seasons, stating that his production was “unacceptable”. Mind you, in each of those three seasons Rodriguez posted more-than-acceptable numbers with 30+ homeruns and 100+ RBIs. Alex Rodriguez came into spring training in better shape than last year and certainly in a better state of mind.
The Yankees were by all means not the biggest winners in offseason roster moves. What that means to the team is, besides Rafael Soriano and Russell Martin, there are no new players that are supposed to take on big roles for the Yankees. There aren’t any new playing styles to adjust to and no new egos to handle. What this also means is that, compared to the Boston Redsox who have brought in two all-stars, the Yankees have not really been a focus of other teams and the media alike. Other than the retirement of pitcher Andy Pettitte, the Yankees have lost very little of their team, and if A.J. Burnett can pick it up this season, the Yanks’ rotation could come up with similar production to last year’s.
According to Mariano Rivera, the Yankees are happy to be somewhat under-the-radar this spring, hoping that the team can sneak up on some teams in the upcoming season. No matter what the media has said, the Yanks are still confident that they can win it all in 2011.
With the A-Rod situation seemingly in order and the team still largely intact, in combination with the recent lack of media attention on the Yankees, it has been a very positive spring for the team. For the first time in a while they have been allowed to focus on baseball and baseball alone. Hopefully they can use this to their advantage and reclaim the retooled AL East.
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