Commentary

Bronx cheer a fitting tribute for Boss

Booing Yankees players at the All-Star Game? Steinbrenner would've been proud

Updated: July 14, 2010, 2:54 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- As each and every All-Star Yankee was introduced, the boos filled the Angel Stadium air. Alex Rodriguez welcomed them with a big smile, opening his arms wide and inviting more as he stepped forward during the pregame ceremony.

From captain Derek Jeter to hometown kid Phil Hughes to manager Joe Girardi, the fans crushed the Yankees with jeers.

[+] EnlargeAlex Rodriguez
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesAlex Rodriguez was fine to play Tuesday but watched the final out from the bench. AL manager Joe Girardi said he was about to have him run for David Ortiz but Ortiz was thrown out at second.

They were booing because of all the Yankees' excess, the endless money they spend, the championships they win, and the fact that they have the gall to do things like have three All-Star starting pitchers and still feel the need to try to acquire a fourth.

Mostly, the fans booed the Yankees because of all the winning.

There could be no grander salute to "The Boss" than the booing of his guys. He would relish that the Yankees' superiority brought derision.

In 1973, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees from CBS, no one would have wasted their energy to boo the Yankees. They were irrelevant.

The 45,458 at Tuesday's All-Star Game did cheer Steinbrenner before the moment of silence in his honor. The applause was for the legendary impact he had made on the game.

"One out of two was not bad," Rodriguez said after the American League lost to the National League 3-1.

Rodriguez, who is not hurt, did not play. He said it felt strange not to get in the game, but Girardi decided to sit him.

"I was ready," Rodriguez said. "It would have been fun. Maybe next time."

A-Rod thought it was because he had sat for so long, but Girardi said he thought about pinch running with A-Rod in the ninth. Only A-Rod could have a swarm of media around him after the game even though he did not play.

Steinbrenner loved megawatt stars like A-Rod, but The Boss was often a contradiction and embraced the prestige of the Yankees just as strongly.

The voice of late public address announcer Bob Sheppard narrated the uniqueness of the old Yankee Stadium. Known as the "Voice of God," Sheppard passed away Sunday at 99.

During the bottom of the first inning, Sheppard's voice lived on. When Jeter batted, a recording of Sheppard intoned, "Now batting ... for the American League ... from the New York Yankees ... No. 2 ... Derek Jeter. No. 2."

Steinbrenner would not have been pleased with the outcome of the game, because the Yankees could be at a home-field disadvantage if they make it to the World Series.

You could imagine Steinbrenner, in his prime, venting about commissioner Bud Selig's invention to marry the All-Star result to home-field advantage in the Series.

However, he wouldn't have been able to complain completely, because it was a Yankee who took the loss. In the seventh, Hughes -- pitching 10 minutes from his parents' house, which is where he still lives in the offseason -- faced only three batters. After picking up one out, Hughes allowed singles to Scott Rolen and Matt Holliday before exiting.

When Braves catcher Brian McCann singled off White Sox reliever Matt Thornton, Hughes became the first Yankee to lose an All-Star Game since Tommy John in 1980.

Still, the lasting memory of Tuesday won't be that McCann won the 2010 All-Star Game MVP. It will be the day The Boss died.

Seven years ago, Steinbrenner fell at Otto Graham's funeral and had to go to the hospital, then pondered his mortality a few months later.

"I don't think it scared anybody in New York," Steinbrenner told Sports Illustrated of his fall in 2003. "Why were they scared? If I had gone, so I'd be gone. They wouldn't have cared much, I don't think."

From New York to Anaheim, they cared. They cared a lot about what this Yankees legend recreated. His legacy in death was that he brought the Yankees back to life.

At the All-Star Game, everyone cared about what The Boss had accomplished. You could tell because of all the boos.

Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

More from ESPNNewYork.com »

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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