Tuesday, October 30, 2007
He doesn’t fit! Anywhere.
It’s as simple as that if you want to know why the Red Sox won’t sign the greatest right hand hitter in the game (possibly of all time). He didn’t fit in New York. He didn’t fit in Texas or Seattle, either. And he certainly won’t fit in with the current version of the Red Sox.
Peter Gammons commented on TV the other day that, “A-Rod has never been in a World series. Maybe there’s a reason.” He’s the oil to a team of smooth flowing water. He’s the tuxedo in a closet full of brown shoes. He’s the square peg trying to wiggle into a round hole.
He’s Wilt Chamberlain!
That’s right. As Bill Bradley once pointed out about Wilt, he never really understood basketball. Even though he eventually won a couple of NBA titles, Wilt always revealed his ignorance of the game in interviews. He never understood how Bill Russell beat him so often. OK, Wilt, if you can hear me, here it is.
Russell was not only the best Center to ever play the game – EVER, Shaq, - but he was also the best leader. He brought out the best in his teammates. He was never about his own stats. He consistently turned blocked shots into turnovers and a Boston fast break and two points. That was by design, by-the-way. He taught himself to block the shot upward, not down. He’d then jump up for the ball and pass it to a teammate to start the break. Wilt would block a shot into the third row with Goliath-like force. But who got the possession of the ball, Wilt? The other team!
Wilt eventually went to the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers much like A-Rod joining the Yankees. And neither of them fit in. Oh, Wilt finally did win a championship after Russell retired. How did he do it? According to Jack Kent Cooke, the Laker owner in an on camera appearance after the final game of that series, “We did it like you did, Billy.” Russell was the TV analyst for the game and was in the locker room while the TV cameras rolled. So, Wilt finally learned to play as a team guy, but it didn’t stick.
If the Red Sox were to sign A-Rod, it would be just as silly as if the Celtics had signed Wilt after Russell retired. For all his superior offensive ability in basketball, Wilt would never have led the Celtics to a championship because he couldn’t lead. In the new century, the Red Sox have erased the memory of a team that was known by their style of arrival at an airport. Twenty-five guys, twenty-five taxicabs. Not anymore. This is a close knit bunch that truly enjoys being teammates. You could see it in the dugout during the games. There are no more Carl Everetts in the locker room. They’ll find a way to win without all the homeruns A-Rod could bring them.
They did it this year!