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Yankees Fans Supporting A-Rod, Even If Team Is Not

Alex Rodriguez is one home run shy of 660

Alex Rodriguez (Reinhold Matay - USA TODAY Sports)

Alex Rodriguez (Reinhold Matay – USA TODAY Sports)

 

Alex Rodriguez is one home run shy of 660, which would tie him with Willie Mays for fourth on baseball’s career list. In happier times, this would have been a reason to celebrate. The Yankees would have torn its collective rotator cuff patting themselves on the back; A-Rod would have soaked up the admiration, and taken the money the Yankees would have gladly given him for achieving such an historic milestone while wearing the beloved pinstripes.

Alas, these are not happier times. Not for the Yankees front office, who will be faced with whether or not to pay Rodriguez a $6 million milestone bonus per a marketing agreement reached in 2007. The Yankees believe the milestone is tainted and therefore unmarketable, thus nullifying the agreement. And not for A-Rod, who has spent this short season performing better than expected and saying all the right things. He’s hitting and aw shucks-ing his way into the hearts of the Yankee faithful. A money grab by A-Rod has a chance of undoing all the good will he has skillfully and craftily built up, both on and off the field.

You know who IS happy right now? Yankee fans.

Truth be told, Yankee fans’ expectations coming into this season were tempered, bordering on low. Both the Yankees and A-Rod have exceeded the hopes of many Yankee fans thus far. The cheers that A-Rod is receiving on a nightly basis would also suggest that fans are rooting for A-Rod to succeed.

As one such fan, I just hope the Yankees and A-Rod don’t screw it up. There are a lot of solutions to this, all of which involve the Yankees and Rodriguez not turning this into a proverbial pissing contest. A-Rod could decline the bonus. It’s hard to speak to the financial needs of others, and $6 million is a lot to leave on the table. But Alex Rodriguez’s $275,000,000 contract is probably enough to feed his family (wink wink Latrell Sprewell) and not being greedy now would go a long way in continuing in all that gosh darn good will. The Yankees could create some good will of their own, and just pay Rodriguez. But the organization hold grudges, and they’re not forgiving A-Rod for his scorched-earth campaign against everyone in baseball, most notably the Yankees. They could also both come to an agreement to pay the bonus and donate it to charity (all the feels) but the Yankees probably don’t want A-Rod credited for any charitable donations they might make, not to mention the 100 percent tax they would owe on the payment. The Yankees are over the the luxury-tax threshold, and the money would factor into their 2015 payroll.

Personally, I find it hard to sympathize with either side when it comes to discussions of money. Both sides have more than enough, and it’s never enough. My bank account barely has four digits to the left of the decimal point. I don’t feel bad.

What I am interested in is that A-Rod is performing and trying to redeem himself, and that he is a Yankee. All this talk of money has obscured what will happen when Alex Rodriguez hits home run number 660 which he is likely to do, possibly on the Yankees current home stand. The fans surely will want to celebrate it, but will the Yankees? No one knows. So one Yankee fan has decided to take matters into his own hands. MarkMongo — his twitter handle, and not his real name — has started a gofundme campaign to cover the cost of an ad in The Daily News to congratulate A-Rod should he reach the milestone. I asked him about what inspired him to start the campaign, and about his feelings toward A-Rod:

Where are you from and how long have you been a Yankee fan?

I am from North Jersey and I have been a Yankee fan for over 25 years.

Have you ever wavered on A-Rod? How did you feel when he was waging his campaign against the Yankees?

When it came out that he was involved with BioGenesis I was definitely frustrated and disappointed. However, Major League Baseball turning it into a witch hunt and  trying to hand down an unprecedented suspension really made me sympathize with A-Rod. MLB prospered for many years on the backs of it’s steroid enabled athletes. Bud Selig and his team thought they would right all their past wrongs by going after one player, which did not work to repair any images, only damage them in my opinion. A player who is inclined to use performance enhancing drugs is no less inclined because of the A-Rod suspension. Heck, even in this very city we have a player currently suspended for using steroids.

Are you strictly a “root for the uniform guy”? 

I think with the way sports are nowadays, free agency and the like, you have to be. For example, I HATED Johnny Damon when he was a Red Sock, but I was thrilled when the Yankees got him and he was an important part of the 2009 World Series team. I don’t understand how you can be a fan of the team and not root for all 25 guys to perform their best.

What inspired you to start this campaign?

I heard about the fan who took out the ad in the Daily News asking Commissioner Manfred to put an asterisk on A-Rod’s home run total because the fan loves Willie Mays. I found that to be so ridiculous, if he’s a Giants fan, does he also want an asterisk for Bonds?  I had sent out a tweet somewhat jokingly suggesting this and got a bunch of positive responses.

I’ve been very vocal about the Yankees trying to not pay A-Rod for the milestones and their shunning of A-Rod in their press announcements and social media. This campaign is primarily to show the Yankees that fans are rooting for A-Rod and they should stop this childish pursuit against their own player.

What were your conversations with The Daily News like?

The conversations have been good. We negotiated a price and have been very accommodating, I had a phone call with the salesman and a man from the logistics department yesterday afternoon. They are going to do everything they can to get the ad in the paper the very next day if the funding is in place and they have the copy on time. It was funny because they have similar feelings about this situation with A-Rod. I joked that they should make a contribution to the effort. I am sending a draft of the letter to them this morning for their legal team to review.

If this campaign doesn’t reach it’s financial goal, do you plan to present what you have to the Daily News? If that’s not an option, do you have another plan? What do you do with the money?

I am in contact with them and they understand what’s going on with the fundraising. The fundraising has gained some traction but we still have a LONG way to go. When A-Rod reaches 660 I’m going to go to them with what I have and see if they’ll take it. I think the ad itself makes for a good story for them as a news organization, but we’ll have to see. I’ve also considered reaching out to the editorial department and see if this letter would be something they would be interested in. I will be in touch with them later today. If I don’t reach the goal or I am able to go the editorial route, I have stated on Twitter that I plan to donate the money to Autism Speaks, a leading autism charity, in honor of my younger brother who has autism.

Currently, the campaign does indeed have a long way to go. There are fans who will never forgive A-Rod, and that is their right. The criticisms that he is a repeat offender, a fraud, and a liar all have some merit, and forgiveness is a choice. You can’t force it on anyone. But judging from the cheers that far outweigh the boos preceding every A-Rod at bat, and seem to be louder for A-Rod than any other current Yankee, there is a large contingent of people who are rooting for Alex Rodriguez to succeed.

Sure would be nice if the organization he plays for felt that way, too.

We’ll find out soon enough.

(You can donate to @markmongos’s gofundme campaign here https://www.gofundme.com/t434mgs )

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