The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

From right to left

I hate to be left out.

So, as seemingly every other New York area sports writer has been allowed, I ask you to please afford me the opportunity to weigh in on our fair city’s most famous steroid user.

I’ve read many opinions in the City tabloids on the allegations of Alex Rodriquez’s steroid use, and I’ve even thumbed through a few columns commenting on the polarizing Yanks admittance to those allegations.

I’ve read that the Yankees need to bite the bullet and eat the slugger’s brand new, monster contract, using the recent headlines as an excuse to get out of a contract that they should never have gotten themselves into in the first place. I’ve even read that those damn Yankees have gotten exactly what they deserve for allowing a prima donna with obvious anxiety issues to become the face of the most storied franchise this side of McDonald’s.

But there is a different spin to all this A-Rod business here in Queens, one that every mother since Eve (or at least my own enough for them all) has preached to their kin: we must always remember to appreciate what we have.

I am reminded now of my first opportunity to voice my opinion on the world of college sports in this newspaper. I wrote a column about the beauty of the sport of baseball on its most elemental level.

“But there is an escape,” I wrote. “There is a place to see baseball in its purest strain, and it’s on the arm of [former Red Storm starter Ryan] Cole and off the bats of his teammates. The sport’s lasting beauty was never in its commercial success anyway; it was and remains in its simple grace, melodic pace and its seamless integration of bat, ball and glove.

“What’s lasting about baseball isn’t the big business, big homerun, big muscle state of the MLB – it’s the shortstop turning to his centerfielder with his index and pinky finger raised and a smile after turning a perfect double play.

“And that, along with everything else we can still respect, will be on display from now until the end of the summer at the little league parks, the high school fields and at the Jack Kaiser Stadiums.”

I have been the first in many circles to voice my discontent about where the Red Storm men’s basketball program is and where many believe they should be, but let me take my mother’s advice for just once here.

Though Norm Roberts has been criticized for just about everything else, no one has ever denied the job he has done in building a program of character athletes. Athletes that, though they sometimes struggle to notch W’s, deserve much more respect than even the uber-talented A-Rod and for a much more important reason.

I have gotten the sense over the past two seasons that the basketball team’s core group of sophomores is a core group of some really great guys.

It was obvious in a press conference after their Super Bowl Sunday victory over South Florida. Malik Boothe, Paris Horne and D.J. Kennedy spoke about how close they’ve grown in just two years and how much they enjoy playing with each other. They were genuine, there were no traces of any foreign substance detectable in their words or they’re laughter. They were excited to watch the Super Bowl, together as a team.

But before they did that, they spoke about their coach: a man with his job on the line.

“Besides coaching, he’s like a father-figure to all of us,” said Kennedy. “If we need anything or we need to talk to someone he is right there and helps with the situation. He tries to be there as best as he can for each one of us.”

I am glad that we are surrounded at this school by athletes who are concerned even more with being genuinely good people than with being genuinely good athletes.

I am glad that when Malik Boothe smiles as he passes me on his way to class in Marillac, he genuinely means it.

That is not something we always get with our sports stars in this city. And though D.J. Kennedy may have a few more tattoos than Father Harrington probably approves of, I’ll take his character over A-Fraud’s any day of the week.

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