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Sinseriously
2005-12-29 04:49
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Lo and behold, there is a positive story about Alex Rodriguez in a New York paper this morning.  Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes:

He is a winner in nearly all the ways our society keeps score, notably in the areas of incredible riches and talent.  Nevertherless, he often feels as if he cannot win.  So his answers during a half-hour call are, as usual, long and full of insight.

...But almost all come with disclaimers that he is responding to questions because they have been asked...At this point, A-Rod recognizes his sincerity and motives are challenged enough that there is no such thing as a simple answer to a simple question.

Rodriguez is enthusiastic about the arrival of Johnny Damon.  "He fits our team like a glove."  Furthermore, Sherman writes:

There is nothing cosmetic about A-Rod's zeal during the conversation.  The AL MVP loves baseball.  Trust me, most players have no idea what transactions their own team have made.  Rodriguez is not only aware of every move of every club, but is able to contextualize it better than most GMs I speak to.  In some ways, A-Rod has the soul of nerd fantasy-league player.

It is interesting how loathed Rodriguez is for being "insincere."  There is something intense going on with him--more than just his contract--that grates on people's nerves.  For someone who can make the game look effortless in spite of all his hustle, perhaps fans are offended by how hard Rodriguez seems to try and do or say the right thing.  His game appears flawless but off-the-field, he comes across as hopeless at times, and many, sensing a chink in the armor, are ready to pounce.  Fans generally tolerate a star who is offensive or egotistical like Reggie Jackson (or a straight-up ditz like Manny Ramirez) because they are perceived to be honest.  Like them or not, they are accepted, sometimes embraced. 

Maybe all Rodriguez has to do is last: remain healthy and continue to play into his late thirties (being part of a championship team would certainly help) before the public at large truly accepts him--at which point he can have his Sally Fields moment.  But it's odd for a guy who is bright, articulate, self-aware, and an incredibly hard-worker--everything we supposedly want in a player--to be so awkward in a sense.   Anyhow, say what you want about him, but along with Mike Piazza, he's one of the few star players that you could actually sit down and talk baseball with.  That, in and of itself, is notable.

Comments (84)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-12-29 05:29:47
1.   scarface
Maybe part of the reason is that A-Rod has this vibe that he wants to be liked, little bit like Giambi...which can provoke a reaction...I mean check out Jeter, maybe even Sheffield, they just play it cool, like they don't care too much...ah, well, just one man's random conjecture from 3000 miles away.

Great site, btw, Alex. There's a touch of eloquent humanity (I'm struggling to find the right word here) in your writing that is awesome. Are you and Jon Weisman the same person ? :)

2005-12-29 05:58:02
2.   Dimelo
I have to say that I go up and down with Alex the person, not the baseball player. I want to look up to him like I do with Jetes. Here are the similarities (from my perspective):
1. He and Jetes are great baseball players.
2. Other than Griffey, ARod has been considered a great teammate by many. Other than Chad Curtis, Jeter is considered to be a great teammate by many as well.
3. They both prepare and play the game the way it's suppose to be played. For as talented as ARod may be, he never stays and stares at his homeruns.
4. Whenever I'm at Yankee stadium those are the first two players I try and find: 1. Jeter 1A. ARod 2. Everyone else

Here are two situations where they differ: (note some of this may be perception vs. reality. Btw, I'm not going to post everything that has come out with ARod)
1. ARod says something, if the reaction is not what he expects he starts changing his tune, doesn't stick with his guns. For example, the gambling thing. At first he says it's not gambling on baseball and it's not illegal for him to be there, but it is illegal for those places to be in operation, so back off me already. A couple of days later he says, I never should have been there and I should be smarter about my off field activities. Honestly, it wasn't a big deal with me to hear that he has a life outside of baseball. A lot of great players have been seen in casinos or love to gamble - only one, Pete Rose, actually gambled in the sport he played in. ARod didn't do anything wrong and he shouldn't feel the need to defend himself or even change his tune because it generated a negative reaction. But again, just one of the things he's done to say something then take it all back and say something totally different.
2. In trying to make a parallel to some Jeter controversy I look at '02 spring training with Jeter. Steinbrenner goes off on Jeter's partying ways in a December piece in the news. Jeter says I'm not going to change a thing, I didn't do anything wrong. The back pages of all NY papers come out with the headline, "Party On. Jeter not to Change" (or something like that). The next day Jeter says that's what I said and I'm sticking to that. He knows he didn't say those words so he doesn't feel the need to change his tune to answer what the NY papers interpreted in their tangential reporting. The issue eventually dies.

2005-12-29 06:11:04
3.   Dimelo
BTW, the image both players have left us with in the '04 and '05 post season has been exactly the same. Wherein one player leaves us with a favorable opinion of him, another with a not so favorable opinion of him. Tell me if I'm off-base here?

In '04 here's the description from retrosheet in game 6 of the ALCS, 8th inning:
Cairo doubled to right; Jeter singled to left [Cairo scored]; Rodriguez grounded out (pitcher unassisted); Rodriguez swatted at Arroyo's arm to dislodge the ball from his glove; Mientkiewicz blocked Marsh's view of the play who called ARod safe even though he had not touched the bag; the ball rolled down the line into RF; Jeter scored on the play and Arod ended up at 2B; the Red Sox complained about the interference so the umpires huddled for the second time in the game and called ARod out; Torre was very upset; fans threw junk on the field including baseballs; after a long meeting between the umpires, MLB security and NYC police, police in riot gear were placed along the stands on both sides of the field until the bottom of the 9th inning;

In '05 of the ALDS game 5, 9th inning:
Jeter singles to start the inning. ARod steps to the plate and grounds into a 5-4-3.

More than anything, both players keep leaving us with different lasting memories heading into the off-season from the post-season and I think that might be where the negative reaction reaches its boiling point.

2005-12-29 06:47:06
4.   Alex Belth
scarface, I think you are right. Rodriguez cares about being liked. It's a very human quality but a vulnerable one. There is something about a star seemingly needing to be validated that rubs people the wrong way. Kind of like the A-student in class desperately wanting your approval on top of everything.

Thanks for the compliment too. Jon and I aren't related, but we are pals, I admire his work an awful lot, and am honored that you'd put us in the same sentence.

2005-12-29 08:24:01
5.   scareduck
I don't know... ask the fans in Seattle or even Texas what they think of him. You'll get a very different opinion: selfish, uninterested in the fans, and all about the money. He's certainly in the right place for the latter, but it's hard to have much love for the guy who shows such low-class maneuvers as slapping the ball out of the pitcher's glove. The NY media can spin him all day and all night, but in my mind, he'll always be the guy who helped crater the Rangers.

Sure, the Rangers' worst player wasn't A-Rod -- Chan Ho Park, anyone? -- and so by that rationale you could maybe argue that his contract wasn't the Rangers' biggest problem. But that contract became the reason why they couldn't survive a Chan Ho Park debacle. Whether he's "human" or "vulnerable" or any one of a dozen adjectives induced by someone spinning a P.R. fluff piece, his actions off the field -- in particular, his selection of Scott Boras as an agent, and the manner in which he came to his current contract -- tell a rather different story.

2005-12-29 08:36:15
6.   Felix Heredia
It's not much of a mystery. A-Rod is an excellent player who comes across as an image-obsessed phoney. He always concentrates a little too intently on reporters' questions, he uses the reporters' names in his responses, and each day he declares a different teammate 'the best -whatever- I've ever played with.' He's a ham, and it even shows on the field - how many times did he go to the mound to be seen offering encouragment to a struggling pitcher who already knows damn well that he needs to bear down? And the struggling in the post season despite his talent? Trying too hard.

Someday he probably will have a Sally Fields meltdown.

2005-12-29 08:52:34
7.   Alex Belth
I guess my question would be do you think he's "hamming" it up, going to the mound, being Mr. Great Teammate, an act, or is it sincere, or a little bit of both?
2005-12-29 09:13:35
8.   Nick from Washington Heights
"- how many times did he go to the mound to be seen offering encouragment to a struggling pitcher who already knows damn well that he needs to bear down?"

Felix, he was only trying to help you.

I think it's nitpicking to go after A-Rod for the way he is on field. So many other "genuine" players are just as guilty of appearing to be really really into the game and great teammates on the field, and no one questions their sincerity. I think when he's on the field he plays it the right way, and, to me, there's no proof otherwise.

2005-12-29 09:22:41
9.   vockins
The whole $10,000 a plate for private function appearances rubs me the wrong way, but I can't properly articulate why that's different than signing autographs for money at a convention.

I have no idea why I love Reggie Jackson and I am critical of ARod as a person. I guess it's that it appears that he's so deliberate and calculated - it's hard to relate with someone like that for me.

I admired the decision he made to talk about his psychotherapy, but some of his other responses seem like they were written by Scott McClellan, you know? "I don't want to dishonor either country" - please, man. Why not play for the US this year and play for DR next year? Maybe that's the truth, but it sure as hell doesn't seem like it.

He's the type of guy you wouldn't want your girlfriend hanging out with for more than an hour, I guess.

2005-12-29 09:33:23
10.   Dimelo
If my girlfriend can get a cool million from him. I'd make the sacrifice, as long as I was guranteed a piece of pot. Just my take....pimps up..*s down!
2005-12-29 10:11:03
11.   pwicked
To Felix Heredia: "A-Rod is an excellent player who comes across as an image-obsessed phoney"

Thats because you've already decided he's an image-obsessed phoney. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

"He's a ham, and it even shows on the field...go to the mound..."

If Jeter does it, he's awesome, If A-rod does it, he's a ham.

Felix, regardless of A-rod or Jeter, or any other ball player, you're an idiot.

2005-12-29 10:12:03
12.   Jon Weisman
4 - "but we are pals, I admire his work an awful lot, and am honored that you'd put us in the same sentence."

The feeling's completely mutual.

2005-12-29 10:20:13
13.   Felix Heredia
Have you ever played pickup basketball in NYC with a european? They play differently - there's a lot of overacting, a lot of drama, etc. I think it's the soccer mentality. It makes them stick out like sore thumbs compared to the regulars.

A-Rod plays baseball the same way.

He's got the substance. He should stop worrying about the style.

2005-12-29 10:24:40
14.   pwicked
To scareduck" "...his selection of Scott Boras as an agent..."

Bernie's agent is Boras, is he scum too?

Its amazing the vitriol spewed in A-rod's direction due to the size of his paycheck. If he made 500k/yr, nobody would notice him. Isn't jealousy a wonderful thing...

2005-12-29 10:25:08
15.   Dimelo
How did these Europeans get here anyway? Damn that Mayflower....

Anyhow, this DOOD thinks the Sux will win the AL East this year.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/writers/matthew_waxman/12/29/the.rant/index.html

Hey Alex, you write for SI, who is this cat anyway?

2005-12-29 10:25:21
16.   kylepetterson
I think ESPNRadio's Colin Cowherd said it best. To paraphase; people hate A-Rod because: a) he makes big piles of money and b) all of our girlfriends/wives think he's hot.
2005-12-29 10:33:06
17.   Nick from Washington Heights
you know, my girlfriend doesn't find either A-Rod or Jeter attractive. But she thinks Nomar is striking.
2005-12-29 10:33:12
18.   Dimelo
Mr. Cowhead seems like such a deep thinker.
2005-12-29 10:52:12
19.   kylepetterson
I'm just saying....

Besides, my wife is more of a Don Zimmer circa 2003 kinda girl.

2005-12-29 10:54:28
20.   kylepetterson
Honestly though, would we be having this conversation if the same career belonged to a goober making 400K?
2005-12-29 11:18:09
21.   standuptriple
That SI article is an amusing read. I love how, according to Sox fans, Damon gets a little older every time they print his name. They haven't been able to wrangle the AL East away from the Bronx, but w/o a leadoff, SS or CF they're a lock. All the injuries will plague the Yanks, not Blister-boy and Cadaver ankle.
The A-Rod scrutiny is totally contract based. All he did was accept what the braintrust in Texas offered. Attendance was booming. Fan interest was extremely high. Steroids were flowing like wine. Wait, scratch that last one. Best player in the game. Coming off of a huge season where he proved he could stand alone.
When Pujols visits the mound you don't hear a word. And he's less of a distraction than Manny. Jealousy rears it's ugly head often when A-Rod's name is mentioned. I think part of it is due to the journalistic sensationalism era we're curently in as well. Add in unprecedented access to people's personal lives and it's easy to portray almost anybody as a "monster" in some way, shape or form. (A-Rod doesn't seperate his colored and clear glass in the recycle bins, let's burn him at the stake). As we all know, it's en vouge to hate any Yankee so that doesn't do him many PR favors either.
2005-12-29 11:20:40
22.   Felix Heredia
You mean a high salary means high expectations? Unfair! We are justified in expecting no more from A-Rod than we expect from Melky Cabrera!
2005-12-29 11:36:46
23.   kylepetterson
With the exception of the Yankees signing Jesus (and yes, I mean THE Jesus), I don't think anyone could live up to A-Rod's paycheck.
2005-12-29 11:45:30
24.   Roger Repoz
If the Yankees signed Jesus, George would make him shave and get a haircut. Just like Damon.
2005-12-29 11:58:19
25.   Dimelo
I saw Jesus in Spanish Harlem, he was copping an 8 ball to celebrate his b-day - which happened 4 days ago, just in case you didn't know. He sure looked like he needed a shave, but I don't think he was worth ARod's salary.
2005-12-29 12:00:46
26.   wsporter
I don't get this stuff with A-Rod. What do people want from the guy? He's a freaking ball player. What exactly is it that people want him to be? So he seems to have a tin ear, big deal. The guy never loafs, he puts up unreal numbers and he cares. It occurs to me that a lot of the ill will directed at him has to do with envy. He's rich, he's young and he's good looking. That's not a recipe that will inspire affection if its not combined with personal magnetism. But the level of ill will he seems to inspire can't be explained by that factor alone. This can't be because of the gambling clubs, it started way before then and I've never heard of the guy so much as littering. Yet you'd think he was some combination of Jack the Ripper and Abe Beame.

Those 3 dingers and 10 rbi against the Angels did it for me. The guy's a player and he's one of ours. I think Alex B. has it right. A-Rod wants to be liked and that is a very human thing. Christ it could be worse, at least he gives a crap.

On a different tack I wouldn't burry the Sawx just yet, Yeah they have problems but they also have the wherewithal to address those problems if they can find a couple of compliant dance partners. I'm sure they'll come up with something that will make us good and nervous in the not to distant future. The only good thing is they'll probably have to pay through the nose for it.

2005-12-29 12:08:31
27.   celli23
AMEN wsporter

Sour jealous grapes from all these morons. Lets blame AROD because some idiot decided to pay him more than anyone else in sports has ever been paid. Why dont we blame the idiot in Texas?

We can name many lazy effin athletes in every sport for almost every team that are quite overpaid and dont even try to give a damn. Arod, gives 110% every night, wears the best uniform in sports with pride and loves life. All of us would be the same way given the opportunity.

I am just mad that the article about his card playing helped to close down all the poker rooms. Shame on the NYC heat for caring only after it was put in the papers. BTW, almost none of those clubs were the dingy, shady gambling dens as they were made out to be.

2005-12-29 12:24:24
28.   celli23
Jerome James, Jayson Williams of the Nets, Grant Hill, Mo Vaugn, Chad Pennington, Warren Sapp, anyone else, please feel free to join in to name all the freeloaders in sports yesterday and today....
2005-12-29 12:27:06
29.   Dimelo
ARod has a lot of fantastic qualities, many of them that are being mentioned here but the criticism I've been reading and one's I've even posted hardly stem from jealousy and envy. They seem like well thought out criticism of his faults. I want to genuinely like the guy and I root for him when he's in the batter's box or man'ing 3rd for the Yankees, however, his act simply doesn't come across as genuine. I read another post here that it seems the only time he seemed sincere was when he was talking about his psychological problems. I agree, that seemed to come from the heart. Maybe that's the problem, he's just cuckoo for cocoa puffs. "Jeter's great", "Damon's better", "I mean Jeter's a better #2", "Damon is a better #1", "Shut-up, I love to gamble", "I never should have gambled. It was wrong.". Yupper!! I think he's just f'en CRAZY!!!! He's perfect for NY then.

BTW, I envy Jeter. I would love to be him and live his life, though, I'm quite happy with mine but we all agree he has a pretty fantastic one. The envy I have for Jeter is by no means translated as hatred. It seems like a pretty convenient answer by many to say, "oh you only say those things about ARod because you envy and are jealous of him". I don't agree with that statement.

2005-12-29 12:28:24
30.   Dimelo
Grant Hill???? Pennington? Those two shouldn't be put in the same sentence as all the others.
2005-12-29 12:35:53
31.   celli23
why, Grant Hill has played sparingly, at best, yes because of injury, doesnt mean he's earned any of his millions. And CP, he's finished, after doing mainly nothing, with a 63 million dollar contract.

Dimelo, just so you know, I am not saying any of this mean-spirited. I find it a fun conversation.

2005-12-29 12:42:04
32.   wsporter
Dimelo, I agree that the feelings about A-Rod can't be explained solely as envy. What else do you think it is?
2005-12-29 12:42:17
33.   tommyl
What I find interesting about these debates is how people (not so much on here, but elsewhere) seem to confuse a player and his persona off the field. The huge about turn that was done on Giambi is a perfect example. At the beginning of the season, many people hated him not just as a player but as a person as well. Then when he started hitting again he very quickly became this wonderful, noble comeback story. Yet as a person he was saying and doing the exact same things in both time periods.

I think this stuff about ARod goes the same way. He could be a nice person, he could not be, unless I start hanging out with him on a regular basis I'll have no way of knowing and I certainly can't gleam his actual personality from reading some articles in the NY Post or Times, however interesting they may be. That said, he's done nothing truly evil or illegal that I know about and he seems to love the Yankees and want to win. That's enough for me to root for him.

2005-12-29 12:45:16
34.   tommyl
Re: 15

Well at least there's an optimistic Red Sox fan out there. Deluded, yes, but optimistic.

2005-12-29 12:45:58
35.   Dimelo
I know none of what's being said mean spirited. Freeloaders are the likes of Mo Vaughn, Kevin Brown, Latrell "I need to feed my family" Sprewell, Jerome James, etc, etc. But Hill and Pennington are one of the good guys who experienced some bad injuries. That's like being a great delivery man for FedEx and you fall down a flight of stairs, this prevents you from ever lifting heavy boxes, etc, and forces you into collecting long term disability. These players aren't packing it in, they have serious conditions that are preventing them from performing their duties. It could all be semantics as far as the word 'freeloader' is concerned. It has a negative connotation in my book. I would never consider ARod to be a freeloader. In contrast, I do have a different opinion of Alyssa "Wish I would've signed with Detroit" Pavano.
2005-12-29 12:52:13
36.   Dimelo
wsporter, Hate to make this comparison, but it's like our President. Nobody likes him, not because they are envious, but because he's not honest or truthful. ARod just doesn't seem honest enough and it all starts with the contract - 'it wasn't about the money, but their commitment to winning'. That may have been the one instance where it would be OK for an athlete to say it was about the money, or at least say they were overwhelmed enough by the offer that they had no other choice but to accept that amount of money.

BTW, in my eyes ARod is waaaaayyyyyy more likable than our President. I actually think he'll do a better job running this country and being a better diplomat than Presidente Boosh.

2005-12-29 12:57:26
37.   celli23
Dimelo, I misspoke, freeloader has a negative connotation, what I really wanted to say is that they are people that get paid way too much money and not producing, good guy/injuries aside. I mean, they arent giving some of the money back because they are injured.
2005-12-29 13:02:26
38.   Dimelo
celli23, ok..point taken. I think there's a fine line though between not giving back (based on your salary) because of an injury you experienced going 100% for the team and the game you love vs. "milking" an injury. Nevertheless, I understand what you are trying to say. I thought what Albert Belle did was terrible, even going as far as asking for his road meal money after he "retired".
2005-12-29 13:07:00
39.   wsporter
Dimelo, thanks for pulling back on the Dub/A-Rod comparison. That was down right ugly. When you think about the contract thing though how many athletes ever say they signed because the money was better? None. A-Rod signed for approximately 5 - 10 million more per season than the next closest offer. What the hell was the S.O.B. supposed to do, leave $50 to 100 million on the table. If your point is that if any guy who ever signed a contract had a right to say it was about the benjamins it was A-Rod and that he should have said so and didn't, I can buy that. It had to be about the money. No one would have begrudged him that. That's why I think he has a tin ear or has gotten some really bad advice about handling PR over the years.

tommyl, I think what you say about confusing on and off-field personas is a great point. The thing with Giambi that brought him support though is he played hard and well on the field and kept his yap shut off it. You never once heard him whine or moan about anything this year. That showed some good common sense (because he would have been murdered if he whined) and some internal strength that was admirable, as admirable as his on- field accomplishments. He'll never be rid of the juice mark but he's gone along way towards making the best of an ugly situation.

2005-12-29 13:24:21
40.   Ramone
I seriously question how disliked A-Rod is by baseball fans. No, he is not beloved. And going from Seattle to Texas for $$$ but no post-season success brought him some possibly-deserved derision.

But I think most of the anti-A-Rod feeling comes from sportswriters. Let's face it, they are jealous. A-Rod has everything most of them don't have and never will. Talent, money, and good-looks. So, out of bitterness, they withhold the one thing that they can: their approval.

The irony is that A-Rod is EXACTLY the type of player that most sportswriters endlessly whine about everyone else not being. Yes, he tries too hard and does it in an awkward and obvious manner. But so what? At least he knows what the right things are and tries to do them. In a world of Milton Bradleys you'd think more sportswriters would shut up and appreciate one guy who tries to live up to his talent.

2005-12-29 13:27:10
41.   Dimelo
wsporter, I agree that no athlete ever says it's about the money. And I'm not referring to ARod specifically, but the contract, doesn't matter if it was Felix Escalona who signed such a huge contract. The thing is that other athletes have made 25 million/year -- think Jordan in his last few years with the Bulls. BUT, no athlete has ever signed such a lucrative contract for double digit years, totaling a quarter of a billion for the life of the contract. That said, I agree he has gotten some bad PR advice with respect to the contract but he could have fixed that by easily saying it was about the money -- not being so crass about it either, it would take some serious forethought to explain that contract rationally and say it was about the Benjamin's. For everyone, that's where the (negative/positive depends on who you talk to) image of ARod really started to take off and it will always be the same no matter what uniform he's wearing. That was ARod's defining moment, it will never be about his homeruns, or how many records he breaks. Everyone will always remember the contract first, then the player. That's an unfortunate circumstance, but a situation created by him and his handlers and unfortunately he's the one who has to live with that burden of responsibility. The criticism just comes with the territory.

BTW, the other ARod defining moment for many will always be the slap play - not the play itself, which I thought was smart on his part to make something happen - but his reaction afterward. To many that's where ARod the cheater, he's classless, no sportsmanship was born from. Unfortunately, with everything he says he just keeps compounding the problem more and which is the reason why some/most Yankee fans are split down the middle with him (love'em or hate'em). It's funny though, anytime his name is mentioned it does spark some interesting debates. I hope he never takes a B-12 shot, because at this point the haters wouldn't expect anything less. I'm continually on the fence with him, l really wish I wasn't.

2005-12-29 13:30:43
42.   Dimelo
Good point, Ramone. We forget they have their own agenda.
2005-12-29 13:31:46
43.   Alex Belth
Matt Waxman isn't a baseball guy but he does do some baseball columns for SI.com. And yeah, but the tone of his piece, you can plainly see that he's a Red Sox fan.
2005-12-29 13:35:50
44.   Dimelo
RSN is making their own version of the popular song "The Roof is On Fire". It's called "Damon's Shirts Are on Fire", remember the song was followed by "...we don't need no water let the mo'fer burn..".
http://bostondirtdogs.boston.com/Headline_Archives/2005/12/burn_baby_burn_1.html
2005-12-29 13:52:54
45.   sam2175
Reggie Sanders signs a 2/10 contract with Kansas City Royals. His stated reason: "He wanted to be piece of the puzzle."

Kevin Millwood, a Boras client, signs with Texas Rangers, 5/60. His stated reason: "I wanted to go somewhere that wanted to win."

Somehow, there is no outrage.

Here is the double standard with A-Rod. If he were defiant and said "I signed for money, winning be damned", he is instantly a greedy person, and rubs his teammates and management the wrong way.

If he says "I came here to win", he is a phony.

Any professional baseball player who is playing the game is playing to be paid. And I do not know of anyone who would disagree to be paid 252 million dollars. I would personally feel stupid not to do so.

And the goal of a baseball game is to try and win. So a baseball player, regardless of where he is, plays to win. Yet, those sentences coming out of Alex Rodriguez's mouth is subjectively perceived to be insincere by many.

As long as Alex Rodriguez produces the way he does, I dont give a rats butt about what he says and how he appears. He is the most valuable player of the MLB and is a New York Yankee. Enough for me to feel proud of him, I dont look upto him for moral guidence on any topic, so all that stuff is irrelevant to me.

2005-12-29 13:58:53
46.   Dimelo
Those contracts are a dime a dozen, but why even try and argue and belabor the point anymore. Tell me how many players are being paid 5 million/year, or 12 million/year? I'll be it's more than one. Then compare that to the number of players being paid 25 million/year. There's only one. That's the difference.
2005-12-29 14:11:39
47.   celli23
#41 Dimelo

Reggie was inititally remembered for his free agent contract and signing. Now he is Mr. October. Arod will be known for the contract until he wills them with his talent to win the World Series. That may or may not happen, but that is the difference between being Reggie Jackson (Mr. October) or Dave Winfield(Mr.May).

2005-12-29 14:25:56
48.   Start Spreading the News
From #5:
"such low-class maneuvers as slapping the ball out of the pitcher's glove"
I have never understood why Arod slapping the ball out of the glove is "low-class" or "classless" as others have called it. The glove and pitcher were in his way, so he slapped at it. He could have ran hard at the pitcher to run thru the pitcher, I suppose. Of course see what happened Brian Roberts when his arm got in the way of someone who was running by him.

I don't care that he slapped it out of his hand. He was reacting on instinct. He was trying to win. The umpires were there to set it right. No big deal.

"Low-class" or "classless" is when you are a catcher shoving a player while still wearing your catcher's mask, a la Jason Varitek.

Re #31
Grant Hill has been injured a bunch of times. If you think rehabbing to get back to NBA shape is no work, then he hasn't earned his salary. I think others would have quit long before.

As for Pennington and $63 million, you will find that much of that money is not guaranteed -- only $20 million of it. Anytime a player sucks, the team can cut him and relieve themselves of the rest of his contract.

Re: #19
kylepetterson: "Besides, my wife is more of a Don Zimmer circa 2003 kinda girl."

Does this mean you have to wear a metal plate on your head before going to bed? :)

2005-12-29 14:34:06
49.   Wally Pipp
I think celli has it right. Until the Yankees win the WS with A-Rod, he'll remain Dave Winfield - the big-money outsider who undoubtedly puts up great numbers, but who can't compete with homegrown guys like Jeter and Mattingly in making Yankee fans swoon.

I wonder if A-Rod's difficulties aren't also a result of timing. After all, when the Yanks traded for him, it was just a few months after the ecstasy of the Aaron Boone game. A-Rod looked all set to go to the Sox, the Yanks swooped in and got him instead and RSN blew a gasket, much to our delight. Getting A-Rod was about as high as the pendulum swung toward the Yankee side in the recent edition of the Great Rivalry.

Then what happened? The pendulum swung violently back. The Red Sox went on to beat the Yankees in particularly humiliating fashion in the ALCS and break the curse in the WS. With all the curse talk of 2003-04, it was hard not to notice that the curse started with the acquisition of the greatest player ever and ended with the acquisition of perhaps the greatest player in the game today. I like A-Rod and I'd love to see him win the WS in pinstripes, but I must admit that it's hard for me to embrace the guy after 2004 upended the natural order of things.

(BTW, first-time poster, long-time lurker. Alex, I can't thank you enough for creating this great site.)

2005-12-29 14:38:51
50.   celli23
wow Alex, you have reached Mike and the Mad Dog status.

long time listener, first time caller, blah blah.

thanks for the props Pipp

I will also throw in that Yankee fans were not all that enamored with Clemens when he first came to the Bronx(to say the least), then they won the series and he became complete.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-12-29 14:42:54
51.   Dimelo
Great first post, Wally.
2005-12-29 14:45:09
52.   Dimelo
Yuck, Mike and Puppy status....Alex is a much nicer human being than those two.
2005-12-29 14:51:39
53.   Levy2020
I've always been very agitated about the A-Rod gloveslap criticism considering that was the same season in which Jason Varitek started a fight and went after A-Rod's eye. I consider the latter to be a much more serious breach of baseball etiquette if nothing else.

But no one talks about what a phony Jason Varitek is - or even what a violent individual. I've always felt that to be unfair.

2005-12-29 14:55:24
54.   Wally Pipp
Thanks guys. (And I swear, I never meant to turn Alex and Cliff into the WFAN knuckleheads!)

Good point on Rocket, celli. If A-Rod gets a ring or two under his belt, this stuff all goes away.

So, will the Red Sox start jawing this spring training about how Johnny Damon isn't a real Yankee?

2005-12-29 14:57:36
55.   celli23
Mike and the MD status comment was not a personality comparison, just a good natured joke about the first time caller comment. I dont know Alex, and I am sure he is a very nice person, but just about anyone is probably nicer than those two, particularly Mike.
2005-12-29 15:02:05
56.   celli23
I am going to sign off by reminding everyone that it is 49 days (I think) to pitchers and catchers and then March Madness. If the GEE Men get eliminated quickly in January, I am going to go stir crazy for 6 weeks. I just can't take boring European Hockey or NBA dunkfests.

Happy New Year all.

2005-12-29 15:11:56
57.   Wally Pipp
I was amused listening to Mike and the MD bemoan the fact that Rivera didn't get the AL Cy Young, chalking it up to the idea that the voters are unfairly attached to starting pitching. Then a caller pointed out that if starting pitching was the yardstick, then it was Santana who got robbed. They immediately launched into their patented know-nothing routine and said Colon clearly deserved it over Santana because he had the better W-L record.

Oy. I mean, we're not talking some particularly esoteric sabermetric analysis here. How did these guys get to their untouchable status? Are there really that many fans who get excited waiting to find out if Mike can correctly predict the ratings share of various college football games each week?

Anyway, regarding Varitek, I'll always remember reading a story about him in Baseball America way back when he was a heralded draft pick engaged in a long holdout with the Mariners. He was arguing that when he had been drafted the year before by the Twins, he had leverage and turned them down and went back to his senior year of college. Then he was drafted again, this time by the M's, and of course his college eligibility was running out. He seemed really peeved at the notion that the drafting team now had the leverage that he enjoyed the year before. It didn't seem to occur to him that there might be times in his life when things weren't handed to him on a silver platter.

So whenever I read essays nowadays talking about him as a sort-of modern Fisk or Munson, I think back to that story. Maybe he's matured, but I'm left wondering...

2005-12-29 15:16:54
58.   tommyl
Celli,

There's always European soccer, which hasn't been boring this year (for the most part). In fact, you can relive Yanks/Sox by watching Real Madrid/Barcelona (though I personally root for Barca in this case). And the upcoming champions league match between Barca and Chelsea should be titanic.

2005-12-29 15:31:58
59.   TheOneTrueGod
It comes back to intangibles. A-Rod is the perfect example of Bill Parcell's famous quote" "It is not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." A-Rod isn't a strong personality. He doesn't have a strong psyche. He is seeing a shrink. Jeter can reach down in the playoffs. In a big playoff at bat Jeter comes across as what can I do to get on base. A-Rod comes across as, god I hope I don't screw this up. He almost seems like two different people when the playoffs begin.

By having the largest contract in baseball and playing on the biggest stage in NY he has a big ass spotlight on him. Certain players dominate the spotlight and others fear it. He comes across as a guy who fears it.

2005-12-29 15:47:32
60.   Ravenscar
re: #39

I'm in favor of A-Rod the player, but as far as him in relation to Bush, you can use fund-raising websites to call up the fact that he contributed the personal maximum to W's campaign. Ouch.

re: #59

Stevie Wonder deliver me from the oxymoronic quantitative comparison - and subsequent judgement - of Jeter's & A-Rod's "intangibles".

2005-12-29 15:58:41
61.   mhmitch
"I have no idea why I love Reggie Jackson and I am critical of ARod as a person. I guess it's that it appears that he's so deliberate and calculated - it's hard to relate with someone like that for me."

I think those of us who were around for the Bronx Zoo Yanks would probably agree that Reggie Jackson was one of the most deliberate and calculating athletes of that era if not all time. Not to mention that he didn't hustle all the time (the manager once wanted to fight him in the dugout because of it), played an awful RF, trashed the team captain in a magazine article (and then tried to say he was misquoted), and was suspended for one week for insubordination (bunted with 2 strikes to show his manager up). I don't know of any Yankee that was booed more than Reggie was at various points in the '77 and '78 seasons. A legendary World Series performance and two championships covers up a multitude of sins. Now people remember him as a brash but genuine and honest Hall of Famer. It makes me laugh how time changes the perspective on these reputations. I have a feeling when we are blogging 30 years from now A-Rod will be remembered very differently then he is perceived today.

2005-12-29 17:35:42
62.   sam2175
46
So when a guy getting paid 5 millions utter apparently phony words, it is no big deal, but coming from the mouth of a person making 25 millions, it becomes phony? Talk about double standards.

The point is this: players say those things, and it doesn't mean a damn. They ALL play for the money. You conveniently overlook the part where a ballplayer is OFFERED 25 million dollars to play baseball. That fact, by and itself, does not make anyone a phony, or even a bad person.

You dislike the guy, fair enough. It is your prerogative to like or dislike a guy. But what amount a ballplayer gets paid is driven by the market. Alex Rodriguez did not extort that money. He is a talented baseball player with a capable agent. That combination can get some 25 million dollars a year, and others 5 millions a year. If you are making that the focal point of your argument why you dislike the guy or why he should attract scorn, then it IS jealousy.

2005-12-29 17:36:36
63.   joejoejoe
I was suprised by all A-Rod mentions in the last thread - many people recalled his bomb vs. Schilling in relief as their favorite moment of '05 (it was mine too). So I'm not sure how much of the anti-A-Rod sentiment is fan based, I think much of it is created by baseball media. My guess is that A-Rod will perform great one of these years in the playoffs and the Yanks will win it all and all will be well in the world with fans and commentators alike.

I've seen A-Rod win games with his fielding, his slugging, and his base running. People want him to do it all at once in every game. Baseball isn't like that - the opportunities don't always present themselves. If we are lucky - one day Alex Rodriguez will do all three in the same game in a World Series game and people will be falling all overthemselves to call him the greatest player of all time. And they might be right.

2005-12-29 17:42:04
64.   wsporter
#59, There is no Jeter but the one true Jeter.

It's actually a different famous football coach who said "It is not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog". While serving as an offensive line coach at the University of Connecticut and observing the diminutive nature of his offensive line Mark Twain was overheard muttering that aphorism.

2005-12-29 18:18:35
65.   yankz
Everyone should read the interview with John McGinley over on Dodger Thoughts. Scrubs and baseball are probably my two favorite sources of entertainment.
2005-12-29 18:30:20
66.   wsporter
http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2005/12/29/sox_in_hunt_for_tejada/

Did anyone see this in today's B Globe? Rainman and Clement for Tejada even up. That's a much better deal for the O's than was being floated yesterday. I can't see Angelos eating anywhere near $22 million AND moving Tejada within the division. If the Sawx agreed to kick in some cash ... It sure would allow the Sawx to move Rainman without tanking the season. I just can't see Peter Angelos Esquire doing it. I think if that's the best offer they get for Tejada they may hold on to him. Although he's still shooting his mouth off.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/baseball/bal-tejada1229,1,3601078.story?coll=bal-sports-baseball&ctrack=1&cset=true

2005-12-29 19:08:48
67.   Nick from Washington Heights
I wonder how Tejada will be viewed if he ends up in Boston. Afterall, he'd end up there because he bitched his way out of Baltimore. A-Rod gets so much shit for having "orchestrated" his way out of Texas in order to play for a winner. I wonder if RSN and the Sox-sympathetic mainstream media (ESPN) will call him out like they call out A-Rod.
2005-12-29 19:10:29
68.   vockins
mhmitch:

I am sure quite a bit of my leniency towards Reggie Jackson is due to two conditions:

1. I was four when he played in the 1977 World Series. Not quite as savvy about baseball and life (not that I don't have a lot to learn about both) as I am now.

2. I got an autographed 1981 Reggie Jackson press photo for my birthday in '81, personalized to me. (For the moment, let's not discuss the high probability that this gift was actually signed by an intern or a secretary)

That said, knowing what I know about Reggie Jackson, I can't imagine that he would ever say anything that was as obviously BS as ARod's WBC nonparticipation excuse, or some of the other middle of the road crap he's dished out. It's plain that Reggie Jackson had no idea the consequences of declaring "I am the straw that stirs the drink." That kind of statement doesn't seem that calculated, deliberate or diplomatic to me. The man's first words to a reporter that met him on the tarmac of JFK were, "What the fuck are you doing here?" Can anybody imagine ARod saying that? Especially to a reporter? No way.

I can relate to Reggie's dogging it, too. It's not excusable, but I can relate. He was having a crap year on a team that hated him and he was frustrated. He figured it out, though. He figured it out in a big way.

Let me be totally clear - ARod is an amazing baseball player, better than Jackson for sure. I have no problem with his salary - he gets paid what the market for his skills determined he should get paid. The slap - I really don't care. The Game 5 DP - that was tough to watch, but there never would have been a divison series to watch without him. I am happy he is a Yankee, and it's pretty awesome to watch ARod play baseball.

But as a personality, as a man I judge through the media, I'm not buying what ARod's selling, because it is a sales pitch. There's not enough humanity. Am I watching a person or a product?

I want the Yankees to build a good team every year. But honestly, a little part of me wants to relate to the players, even just one, on a personal level. Reggie's my kind of asshole. ARod isn't.

That could change in an evening, of course.

2005-12-29 19:46:46
69.   wsporter
Nick fWH, Tejada had a rough time down here last season. That thing with the Viagra Kid knocked the starch out of him. When he signed the O's promised him the moon and the stars to come about building a winner quickly. Letting Ryan walk was a huge loss. Other than signing Tejada the O's have been going through the motions. I think he feels betrayed and I can't blame him. Angelos isn't the easiest guy in the world to deal with. I doubt that he could have handled this quietly and privately so he went the route he did. That being said the guy is one hell of a ballplayer. I hope we don't get the chance to find out if RSN gives him a pass.

Oh and BTW hey Raffy maybe it was the Viagra that caused that "False Positive". Oh that's right, you don't use that either.

2005-12-29 20:14:09
70.   Dimelo
Looks like our "old pal", Da Gambler, really loves cameras. This is his way of making up for beating up the camera guy.
http://tinyurl.com/9br3h
2005-12-29 20:17:40
71.   Simone
Tejada needs to give it a rest because Peter Angelos isn't trading him to Boston if that is his plan. Tejada just needs to hope that he gets traded to a decent team, if he gets traded at all. He took Angelos' money and now he must deal with the situation.
2005-12-29 20:35:32
72.   wsporter
Dimelo is that one of Boggs' candid shots? I wonder what 'F' stop he used.
2005-12-29 20:51:43
73.   Dimelo
wsporter, who knows...BTW, I just got done reading the comments and they are hilarious. Did you get to read them? The internet is the greatest thing. This Oaklahoma - Oregon game is getting really good, just when I thought I was ready to go to bed...sports keeps pulling me back in.
2005-12-29 21:10:13
74.   wsporter
Yeah, I did. There are some cold MF'rs on that one. I know what you mean, there are some pretty funny and pretty sick people out there. I gotta get out of here. See you tomorrow. That was good stuff on A-Rod.
2005-12-29 21:33:54
75.   rilkefan
I'm on the pro-public-ARod side, but I don't know if I would like to "sit down and talk baseball with" him if he's going to say stuff like "Damon and Ichiro are the best leadoff men in the league".
2005-12-30 03:06:02
76.   singledd
FWIW....
Reggie came to a Yankee team that went from the worst in baseball (mid/late 60's) to being a decent contender. The team was built around their ROY catcher, a dirt-dog named 'Thurman'. The Yankess were Thurman's team... that was unquestionable. RJ couldn't stand that. His very first acts were to disrupt the team and divide it into 2 camps. It is always a benefit to get a great player. But Reggie was about Reggie and Thurman was about the Yankees. However, Reggie was 'colorful'. He had 3 favorite players, Me, Me and Me.

I never understand how people can judge a player based on the media. By all rights, ARod seems like a very decent guy... not to mention what he offers on the field. He has donoted monies and been a benfactor many times. While he has tons of money, so do dozens of other players who have made over 50$ mil in their baseball career.

ARod does not owe the media a Gestalt every time some asshole sticks a microphone in his face. ARod's business is his own. He does not owe you or I his personal feelings on every little event the media chooses to write about. A lot of guys decided not to play in the WC. How come we aren't picking every one of them apart?

ARod's job is to play baseball. Writer's jobs are to try and write anything that people will read... truth and sincerity having little to do with it. Most of the time, they are gossip columnists. I am stunned that people will judge ARod on the crap that is written about him and every little nuance of his answers and demeanor.

OK... so the guy says he didn't inhale. Can we just stop being so self-righteous about 'understanding' ARod? He has fit SO well with the Yankees. His situation of changing positions and being Jete's teammate could have been trouble. But as far as I'm concerned, the guy has come to us to play baseball and to win. To me, he is a 'true Yankee', and will hopefully retire as one of the best Yankees and best players in the history of the game.

2005-12-30 03:20:50
77.   singledd
OutOfLeftField:
From the NY Times:
"...who wasn't suspended until Aug. 1 because he challenged the test results. His tests the PREVIOUS TWO seasons were negative, and a test he took THREE WEEKS later was negative."

hmmmmmmmmmmmm...
Raffy Palmeiro.
Let me see: "a test he took THREE WEEKS later was negative"

Let me see. A guy testifies in front of Congress, on TV, and pointedly goes out of his way to say he never did Roids. Tests negatively for 2 years. Already has 500 HRs and possible HOF'er. NOW he does Roids, after all this, at the age of 40? AFTER TESTIFYING THE WAY HE DID?

I don't know. If he DID to Roids, this has got to be one of the dumbest moves in the history of mankind. I personally can't say either way. We know these tests, any one test, is inconclusive. How can a user test negative 3 weeks later? Have they tested him yet again?

Could Raffy be an escape goat?
As I say, I'm not making judgement one way or the other. But this, on the surface, does not seem conclusive to me.

2005-12-30 05:59:53
78.   Simone
What was all the fuss about steriod testing if people don't even consider a positive test conclusive of someone's guilt?
2005-12-30 09:01:08
79.   vockins
I'm not judging ARod, the man on the field, through the media. Again, ARod is a better baseball player than Reggie Jackson. There's no debate about that.

I don't want to give the impression that I side with every inane blurb in the Times, News, and Post about ARod's off the field activities, either. ARod goes out and parties 20 days after Game 5? Who cares. I didn't expect him to hike through Tibet carrying a medicine ball and watching every Yankeeography in order to atone. I don't care if he goes to poker clubs. I do care that he's opted out of the WBC - I'm thrilled he's not playing in that goofy exhibition.

It's not ARod's actions I have any problems with, it's his responses to inquiry about his actions. singledd, you're absolutely right when you wrote that ARod does not owe the media a Gestalt every time an asshole sticks a microphone in his face, and I would love it, LOVE IT, if ARod said, "Where was I last night? Ask your mother. She has a pretty good idea. Do you have question about baseball?"

He won't though, because that would damage the ARod brand image.

I like Reggie Jackson because he had power, but also that he had a crazy swing, liked cars, and was the kind of jerk my grandfather, my father, and I guess I am to some extent. I like Barry Zito because he's a good pitcher, but also that he doesn't have a TV, buys authenticated autographs of himself and plays a lot of guitar. I liked John Vander Wal because he went to bat to "Hot For Teacher". I don't miss John Vander Wal the player, but I do miss hearing five seconds of Van Halen whenever I went to Yankee Stadium.

Perhaps other people have a completely objective view about the players on the team they support, and all that matters is what's on the field. As a simple Yankees fan, there are some other intangibles I take into consideration. I'm not a general manager.

ARod is the most important component on the Yankees. He is a phenomenal baseball player.

I'm not an ARod fan.

2005-12-30 09:48:09
80.   mhmitch
Vockins,

I hear you. You like Reggie's personality over A-Rod's. That's fine. To each his own. I'm just saying don't think for a minute Reggie was always "keepin' it real." He was a master of self-promotion who always had to stoke his outsized ego. He was calculating in a different way than A-Rod. I think you accuse A-Rod of being calculating in a way that keeps his image as a goody-goody which you don't like. I think Reggie was calculating in keeping his name in the lights above everyone elses. He sought the limelight as the cocky brash gun slinger while I guess A-Rod seeks a clean image. Also, you say Reggie finally saw the error of his ways and "got it." But remember that his suspension for insubordination actually came in '78 after his solid '77 season and extraordinary World Series. He "got it" in October '77, didn't "get it" in July '78, but managed to "get it" again as his bat heated up in October '78. Also, I would like to look it up, but I don't think the Yanks or Jackson were performing all that poorly when the '77 doggin' incident ocurred in Fenway (they were having a bad day).

Don't get me wrong, I loved watching this guy play. Much like Bonds today, you never wanted to miss a Reggie at bat. I can also write off much of his bad behavior as a response to Billy Martin who behaved just as badly if not worse. Just want to try to avoid revisionist history. Understandably, you were too young to remember what it was really like on a day-to-day basis in those years.

2005-12-30 10:17:53
81.   mhmitch
For the record, looking on retrosheet.org, the game Reggie got pulled by Martin for turning a Jim Rice single into a double appears to be Saturday, June 18, 1977. The Yanks were 36-28 only one and a half games behind the first place Sox. Reggie had 12 HRs at that point on pace to hit 30. He ended up with 32 HRs.
2005-12-30 10:33:44
82.   vockins
mhmitch-

Exactly. It should be no surprise that I am also a Gary Sheffield and Rickey Henderson fan.

Rivera's my current favorite on the Yanks, so I mix it up a bit.

2005-12-30 10:52:44
83.   mhmitch
Vockins,

My tendency is to like anyone wearing the pinstripes who is an asset to the team. That's why I get so defensive of A-Rod. Even when Reggie did all those bad things, I would grit my teeth, but pray that he would come back the next day and everyone would somehow get along. As for Henderson and Sheffield, love them too. I think Sheffield is the most exciting Yankee to watch hit since Reggie (with an honorable mention to Mattingly and Winfield). I've always thought that another thing going against A-Rod fan wise is that even his monstrous HRs are somewhat dull. Especially on TV, they look like flyballs that just happen to end up 400-450 feet into the stands. It's quite remarkable how effortless he looks at times.

2006-01-01 18:19:21
84.   Schteeve
Jeter is the guy that all the girls like who has a fear of intimacy and will only ever show you what he wants you to see. And it's that very inaccessability that is so seductive.

A-Rod is the guy who wants everyone to like him and tries to be everything to everyone. In a sense he earnestly panders for affection and that comes across as obnoxious.

Sure, there are people who resent the money Alex makes, but I think that's a very small part of the reason that he's hasn't charmed Yankee and baseball fans the way Jeter has.

Also, Jeter has the rings and a littany of "Yankee moments", and that counts for a lot.

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