“Mason’s angry, he’s lethal, he’s a trained killer … and he is the only hope that we have got.”
— Womack, “The Rock”
HOUSTON — If the feds owned other options to stop the soldiers gone rogue in Michael Bay’s 1996 action masterpiece, then they obviously wouldn’t have turned to Sean Connery’s John Mason, a dangerous man less predictable than baseball itself. That’s just common sense.
Which brings us to Carlos Correa, the Astros’ impending free-agent shortstop, and the Yankees, who are watching this World Series from home for the 12th consecutive year. If Correa represented the Yankees’ only hope this winter to fix their shortstop problem, then I’d advocate for a full-blown pinstriped pursuit of the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star.
But he doesn’t. So I won’t.
The Yankees should pass on Correa because of his role in the 2017 Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Because plenty of other options, external and internal, reside on the industry shelves.
If not for the scandal, Correa would look like a potentially terrific fit for the Yankees. He clearly embraces the big stage, as exemplified by the postseason numbers — a .273/.346/.522 slash line and 18 home runs — that he brought into Tuesday night’s Game 1 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park. He can boast of an impressive track record when it comes to charity and community service. When the Astros visited the White House in 2018 to celebrate their ’17 title, Correa skipped it to gather supplies for his native Puerto Rico, which was still recovering from Hurricane Maria, thereby sending a message even as he insisted he was making no political statement.
Alas, the scandal cannot be shrugged off with an “If not for the …” It’s too big, its legs too long. The Astros’ May visit to Yankee Stadium, their first since Rob Manfred’s January 2020 confirmation of what went down, featured an arguably unprecedented level of fan vitriol. And when the Yankees came here in July, Aaron Judge tugged his jersey as he rounded the bases after a July 10 home run, a clear dig at Jose Altuve’s memorable actions when he walked off the Yankees in the 2019 American League Championship Series.
Could the Yankees players, with Judge leading the way, bury the hatchet and form a peace accord with Correa? Of course they could. The same goes for Yankees fans, with Nick Turturro leading the way. Yet we know how hard it is for big names with big contracts to transition to New York. Just ask Giancarlo Stanton and Francisco Lindor and even Gerrit Cole, who passed his Year 1 test swimmingly only to conclude Year 2 on a series of sour notes. Do you really want to further complicate that highly difficult obstacle course with such an obvious hurdle?
Whereas Corey Seager carries no such baggage — actually, he shares the Yankees’ anti-Astros grievances as a member of the 2017 Dodgers — and his lefty bat complements the Yankees’ lineup better than Correa’s righty swing. Marcus Semien will cost less and, as evidenced by his 2021 decision to play second base for the Blue Jays, is very open to position changes if Yankees shortstop prospects Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe continue their rise. Or the Yankees could try to short term it with the likes of Gio Urshela, Andrew Velazquez and Tyler Wade out of respect for those youngsters and divert more resources to their pitching staff or first base.
Choices abound. Hopes abound.
On Monday, when The Post’s Dan Martin asked Correa’s Astros teammate Alex Bregman about winning this World Series vis-a-vis the ’17 narrative, Bregman responded, “To be honest with you, the only thing on my mind is execution,” and I think even most Yankees fans would agree that’s too harsh a penalty for what occurred four years ago. It is OK, though, for the scandal to impact the Yankees’ decisions well beyond 2017. Especially when it would probably be the largest contract in their history. Don’t you want that one to lead to all partying and no worrying?