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Yankee Panky # 32: Compare and Contrast
2007-11-18 08:02
by Will Weiss
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The convergence of A-Rod’s contract sans Boras, Barry Bonds’ perjury and obstruction of justice indictment and Derek Jeter’s tax debt to the state of New York occurs at an interesting time. Here we have three of baseball’s biggest stars: the highest paid and arguably most talented at this moment; the home run king whose record and entire baseball existence is now shrouded in an SF-shaped asterisk; and the golden boy. The first two are respected for their talent but the fan reaction to each is split. The last is the golden boy.

Stories of this magnitude have the potential to shape public perception of the player. Judging from the local and national treatment of the Hall of Fame trio’s recent financial dealings, Jeter may be acquitted in the court of public opinion yet again, A-Rod and Bonds, however, may not.

The Canadian Press hinted at that in a Saturday report:

It was all Bonds all season as he chased Hank Aaron's record. And it was still all about him in the past week.

Four years of pursuit by prosecutors culminated in the indictment that seemed nearly certain as his breaking of the home-run record. After walking to first base at a record pace, he'll be taking a perp walk soon for his arraignment on four counts of perjury and one for obstruction of justice.

His appearance in federal court is scheduled for Dec. 7 — which used to be a free-agent deadline day in baseball and marks the opening night of the opera season at the famous La Scala in Italy. There is, however, little expectation that Bonds will sing, not after all these years of denials that he used steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.

That overshadowed all other sports news. . . .

. . . Forget all that talk about the Yankees taking away his pinstripes forever and perhaps burning them like one of those bonfires that smoked outside the ballpark in the 1970s. After his $275-million, 10-year deal is finalized, he's destined to wind up in Monument Park, probably after breaking Bonds' home-run mark and assuredly after filling too many front and back pages to count speedily.

Now A-Rod gets more chances to flop or not in the postseason - assuming the Yankees continue their streak of 13 straight playoff appearances. Now he again gets to compete for attention across the clubhouse with captain Jeter, who must have been happy the other events reduced his headlines to near agate type. Now the tabloids can stay alert for blond strippers A-Rod might be seen with on future road trips.

The old Charles Barkley “I am not a role model” Nike commercial comes to mind. We’ve discussed the athletes-as-people situation in this space throughout the season, particularly with A-Rod. For the most part, responses have taken this stance: “If he performs on the field, it doesn’t matter what kind of person he is.” Maybe that’s the right stance to take. After all, public figures or people of high social status have acted above societal norms for thousands of years, so why should we expect anything else from Jeter, A-Rod or Bonds?

And maybe it’s irresponsible — and hypocritical — for the media to continue to hold these athletes to a higher behavioral standard. Ethics of reporters, columnists and editors are called into question all the time. Some reporters have published information that was intended to be off the record in order to add spice to their bylines. Other reporters have fabricated sources and plagiarized.

All those philosophical components came to mind as I poured through the local and national material this week.

A-ROD
In the last three weeks, Alex Rodriguez went from puppet of agent to “if he doesn’t want to be a Yankee, then we don’t want him” to going rogue and negotiating on his own behalf on the advice of a billionaire, to remain a Yankee. Eggo doesn’t have this kind of penchant for waffling. I still don’t know what to make of the entire situation from an analytical perspective. It could mean the end of Scott Boras, Superagent, master of securing megadeals for mediocre players.

Based on everything that’s happened, as a Yankee fan, are you happy he’s back? Indifferent? Will you root for him?

BONDS
Barry Bonds has been a headline item all year. Former commissioner Fay Vincent told the Philadelphia Inquirer that "the public will treat this with a big yawn. We’ve all known this was a strong possibility for some time. I think the public has already discounted it.”

Even though I agree with Vincent here, I think this quote says more about the media than it does about the Bonds situation. Why is Fay Vincent still the go-to guy for cleaning up the game? It goes back to the media wanting to hold baseball to a higher moral standard, and there’s a general belief Vincent did that, through his involvement in the Pete Rose investigation and his actions as Commissioner, perhaps most notably, his banning of George Steinbrenner. But the fact is he irritated the owners for much of his tenure. He resigned in 1992 after an 18-9 no-confidence vote. If he had a better relationship with the owners, and if they wanted the game cleaned up, maybe he’d still be commissioner. Stop going to him for quotes. The writers and gatekeepers seem to be the only ones who care what he has to say.

JETER
Isn’t this a lighter version of Bonds’ tax problems, except without the home run record and steroid suspicion? Adam Nichols of the Daily News is correct in his column. Jeter will be able to repair his reputation. He came through Miami situation just fine, didn’t he?

MEDIA NOTES

  • A reporter and a columnist from two prominent local papers are leaving their dailies and jumping to national outlets. T.J. Quinn, arguably the best investigative reporter in the area, has left the Daily News to join the newly formed investigative reporting unit at ESPN.com. Also joining him is Mark Fainaru-Wada, co-author of “Game of Shadows.” Along with Quinn and Fainaru-Wada, 13 other reporters, already with the dot.com and mag, form the team. (If you’ve read any of his E-Ticket pieces, my fellow Ithaca alum Mike Fish, who broke the Tennessee booster scandal, is likely in this group also.) … News was released Friday that Selena Roberts is leaving the N.Y. Times to join Sports Illustrated. While I haven’t agreed with many of the theories she posits in her columns, I’ve always respected Roberts as a writer and considered her work provocative from an intellectual standpoint. She’ll be a great addition to SI, joining fellow ex-NY daily writers Tom Verducci, Peter King and Jon Heyman (all former Newsday scribes) on that staff. 
  • Speaking of Verducci, count him as the latest victim of the brass’s wrath when it comes to appearances on the YES Network. Based on comments in his Oct. 18 column, where he stated team ownership looked “cowardly” following Joe Torre’s departure, and his collaboration with Torre on an upcoming book, the Network fired him from “Yankees Hot Stove,” where he was a staple since 2003. Some other notable YES-related spurnings include: 1) Don Zimmer being banned from TV appearances on YES or from speaking to YES reporters based on his criticisms of ownership; 2) David Cone’s perfect game being pulled from the “Yankees Classics” rotation after he made a comeback with the Mets; 3) David Wells’ perfect game being pulled from the “Yankees Classics” rotation after he signed with the Red Sox.

Next week … Turkey-themed Banter.

Comments
2007-11-18 08:23:47
1.   Mattpat11
When you build up good will like Jeter, you're playing with house money when something like this happens

Its not unique to baseball.

2007-11-18 08:49:31
2.   alterity
[I] I agree with what you're saying, but I really wonder where that good will comes from. He is an excellent player who "plays the right way." Last time I checked, ARod does much the same thing ("HA!" aside). They both work hard, are near or at the top of the majors in ability, etc etc. Jeter, like ARod, is a terrible interview. To say that ARod is image conscious and Jeter is not is crap. People just seem to believe Jeter is being honest when he says something. Look at the number of people who claim something like "ARod feels phony" or "ARod's words don't 'ring' true". My point is simply that, while Jeter does have a surplus credit of good will to use in situations like these, I am not sure it's real so much as constructed by the media narrative around him (that he's a real Yankee, a winner, etc.). Of course, none of this is news to people around here and I for one don't really care so long as ARod is hitting bombs.

As for Bonds, well he has no good will to spare outside of SF, and I have no doubts as to why. Steroids are just one of many reasons people think he's a jerk.

2007-11-18 08:50:10
3.   alterity
Oops, left my Roman Numerals lock key on for that one. Should be directed at 1 . Duh.
2007-11-18 10:17:59
4.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
2 Actually I don't wonder where Jeter's goodwill comes from at all. It comes from 1996-2000. He won, played hard, hit clutch, and was never at the heart of anything remotely resembling a scandal.

I think our standards are in fact pretty low - win a series (or 4) and just about anything can be forgiven: Jeter being an automaton interview (not to mention parking-gate and now tax-gate).

And if A-Rod grabs some rings while hitting bombs, he too will have more goodwill than he can possibly spend.

As for Bonds... I'd have to say that I hope he gets what he deserves. To me his HR records (both single season and career) are not legit. Full stop. I don't need an asterisk or a court decision to tell me that. The fact that he's an unabashed asshole of course doesn't help.

2007-11-18 10:31:15
5.   OldYanksFan
It's interesting that ARod in considered 'insincere'. Yet he admitted to seeing a therapist, spoke candidly last Spring about his relationship with Derek, and has been open on other personal issues. Meanwhile, we have no idea how Derek really feels about anything, as he is a master of political correctness.

I really don't get how ARod attracts so much negative energy, other then the very human need to 'take down' someone at the top. He has been called 'full of himself', which seems true. However, we also call him the best ballplayer of his generation, and he has more written about him then the entire National League. It seems WE are full of ARod. I guess if I was one of the best on the planet at what I did, I might be a little full of myself too.

Almost everything ARod does seems to be based in his personal insecurity. I guess this is his real 'crime'. And conversely, Jetes might be the most secure guy on earth.

I think these 2 are simply targets for both our needs to worship and to belittle. Jeter is teflon and ARod is superglue.

Both Mantle and Williams were somehow 'unpopular' much of their careers. The both were lambasted by the press for whatever reasons. Now of course, they are both Godlike. I hope unlike those fans of years ago, we here can both enjoy and admire ARod, as, if he continues in his current achievement path, his accomplishments will pass both Mantle's and William's, and in the future he will be though of as one of the premiere baseball Gods.

2007-11-18 10:46:55
6.   OldYanksFan
This guy made the Yanks 40 man roster. I had never heard of him. Youzguys?

Scott Patterson, RHP: As recently as 2006, Patterson was toiling in the independent Atlantic League. It looked like he was making a career of that, spending parts of five seasons in some form of indy ball or another. The Yankees needed some bullpen help in the Minors, so they signed him and sent him to Double-A Trenton, where he promptly posted a 2.33 ERA in 26 games, striking out 44 in 38 2/3 IP. He went back to Trenton this past season and was even nastier, with a 1.09 ERA over 74 1/3 innings. He allowed 45 hits for a .170 average against, striking out 91 and walking 15. As a Yankee, that means he's whiffed 136 and walked 23 while yielding 71 hits. He's 28 now and a Minor League free agent, but the Yankees wouldn't mind bringing him back into the fold.

2007-11-18 10:53:05
7.   OldYanksFan
http://tinyurl.com/yuw33x
This seems like a good idea to me, regardless of what happens with Mo.
2007-11-18 10:59:24
8.   Mattpat11
2 Jeter has a long way to go before he matches A-Rod's public displays of jackassery.
2007-11-18 11:00:55
9.   OldYanksFan
http://tinyurl.com/2p6mpl
Thems fightin' words!
2007-11-18 11:35:46
10.   rbj
Re: "Miami incident" You've got a single guy who hooks up with two chicks. How's that a scandal. Most guys I know want to be in that situation. As for the tax situation, he could just pin it on bad financial & legal advice. Plus, there's always the chance he's right.

I welcome A-Rod back, and will root for him to 1) win WSs and 2) bring the HR title back to pinstripes (with all due respect to Mr. Aaron). I like having highly talented players on my team and I want them to do well. Munson has been described as "not moody, he's just mean." Yet I could still root for him.

As for Bonds, make him wait until the last year of eligibility to put him in the HoF. He was already a HoFer before the steroids and if you keep out everyone from this era who's even suspected of steroids, then there may be very few going in. Do we keep out guys who used greenies? How about guys who drank alcohol at a time when it was not merely illegal, but unconstitutional?

I don't expect those I root for to be perfect, we are all flawed human beings. Just like I don't expect journalists to not occasionally pad their expense accounts. Just get the story right.

2007-11-18 11:42:42
11.   alterity
8 you're right of course. i don't mean to sound stupid. i know jetes is beloved (like, say, brosius) for being part of those winning teams. that has a residual effect that is likely to last his entire career. however, in the here and now, there is not much separating the two players, which is what i wanted to say but probably failed to do. jetes has the wins and arod has the game. both are robots in interviews, but jetes is said to be sincere, whereas arod is said to be disingenuous or too concerned about appearance. no one questions jeter's motivation or motives, but everyone dissects arod's as if there were more to dissect. and yet, i can't help but find it funny that the guy who comes off looking like a jerk is arod, the married guy who works hard but seems to not be ableto say the right thing because he's perceived as wanting to say the right thing--the thing that will please everyone. conversely, jetes is the man despite approaching his mid-thirties and still living like a playboy. he works and plays hard, but that's a "mute" point when comparing the two. he, like arod, also never says the right thing--mainly because he says almost nothing of substance at all. even his shot at arod last week--the one about team and winning--was a play straight from a book about contentless motivational speaking. yet, because no one sees him as trying to say the right thing, he comes off fine.

again, i don't really care one way or the other about any of these issues. i'll leave it to lupica to do that. i just find the dynamic interesting, if not surprising. after all, writers have to find a story. i can't imagine how much writers would hate to have to print "ARod awesome at baseball; In other news, water wet" every day.

2007-11-18 11:54:08
12.   Mattpat11
11 I never bought into this theory that A-Rod "is a robot"

He says and does whatever the fuck Alex Rodriguez wants to, usually without considering the consequences. In the words of a great show, paraphrased, of course,

"between his brain and his mouth, there was no interlocutor."

And being married isn't a point in his favor. If both men are going to go around with a blonde on their arm, public opinion will probably favor the single man.

2007-11-18 12:19:23
13.   RIYank
Mean while, the Post is reporting that Mo is about to sign.

tinyurl.com/yuq98r

7 I agree that it would be great to get Cordero, but my sense is that he wants to be the closer wherever he goes.

2007-11-18 12:39:00
14.   Mattpat11
13 It's be nice to get a reliever with a decent track record. I remember being lectured at NYYFans in 2005 that Kyle Farnsworth's career long suck was actually a good thing because he "finally turned the corner" and we could get in "on the ground floor" of something.
2007-11-18 14:21:31
15.   Raf
6 I haven't heard of him either, but RHRP are a dime a dozen. May as well take a flyer on him, and see what he has.

10 Not quite sure I follow your line of thought; if he was already a HoF'er before the scandal, why make him wait?

2007-11-18 14:44:51
16.   Mattpat11
I think people are annoyed that Barry Bonds decided that a Hall of Fame career wasn't good enough for him. He wanted baseball's top records and he was going to get them by any means necessary.
2007-11-18 14:55:55
17.   JL25and3
The agent for Cordero and Vizcaino is named Bean Stringfellow. That's fucking awesome.
2007-11-18 15:31:36
18.   Will Weiss
10 I never used the word "scandal" to describe Jeter's Page Six-worthy situation in Miami. Your comment on what happened proves my point. He skates. If as a parent, you wanted your child to look up to Derek Jeter -- regarding his off-the-field behavior as well -- wouldn't a situation like that make you a little hesitant to do so? And as for your theory on Jeter's tax debt, again, you prove my point. Few people want to believe that there might be something sordid about Derek Jeter, so theories abound to defend him. Maybe he did receive bad financial and legal advice. Does that make him any less guilty, if the facts of the investigation prove him so?
2007-11-18 15:40:49
19.   ny2ca2dc
13 That article also has this tidbit: "The Yankees would likely have to give up Wang and Hughes plus Melky Cabrera or Robinson Cano to entice the Twins, and it may still not be enough. They have no intentions of moving Chamberlain."

That would be a fucking awful deal.

2007-11-18 15:56:52
20.   OldYanksFan
There are a couple of pitchers on the A's worth chasing. Santana will be too expensive. The trade mentioned in 19 is beyond awful.
2007-11-18 16:30:40
21.   RIYank
20 Dan Haren. (Who else did you have in mind?)
But what makes you think the A's want to trade him? He's really cheap, and he has two more years plus a club option left on his contract.
2007-11-18 17:04:16
22.   JeremyM
19 That is literally the worst trade proposal I've ever heard in my life. What sixteen-year old put that together in his basement?
2007-11-18 17:26:02
23.   OldYanksFan
Mo is back?!?
http://njmg.typepad.com/yankeesblog/2007/11/mo-is-back.html
2007-11-18 17:29:27
24.   OldYanksFan
http://www.startribune.com/507/story/1558537.html
The word in baseball circles is that the Twins have made a five-year offer to two-time Cy Young Ward winner Johan Santana calling for $93 million. It's doubtful that Santana will accept this offer, but at least it's a start in an attempt to lock up the pitcher many consider to be the best in baseball.
2007-11-18 17:45:25
25.   OldYanksFan
The Next Ichiro?
http://www.japaneseballplayers.com/en/player.php?id=naoki
2007-11-18 18:02:40
26.   51cq24
it's interesting that people are talking about getting cordero in a thread about public perception of players' off-field behavior. he threw a chair at a fan. yet somehow people seem to have forgotten about that. of course, that was technically on the field. as far as i'm concerned, i'd rather have a player who sleeps with 2 women at once or with a mistress, or a player who lies under oath about his use of steroids, than one who throws heavy objects at fans.

19 i can't believe anyone would ever entertain the idea of trading cano for anyone. he's our only young hitting star. we cannot afford to trade him no matter what.

2007-11-18 18:36:25
27.   yankeemonkey
26 IIRC, it was Frank Francisco who threw the chair, no?
2007-11-18 18:38:44
28.   OldYanksFan
Was it Cordero who threw the chair?
"In an incident still being investigated, Texas Rangers rookie relief pitcher Frankie Francisco hurled a folding chair into the right field box seats at the Oakland Coliseum last Monday, hitting two spectators in the head."

Ranger pitcher Francisco Cordero reportedly told Sporting News Radio the day after the altercation that the fans were "way out of control" the night of the incident.

http://www.cbn.com/entertainment/sports/carpenter-chairthrowing.aspx

2007-11-18 18:46:37
29.   51cq24
27 28 good point.
2007-11-18 19:37:14
30.   joejoejoe
I care what Faye Vincent has to say about baseball.

Commissioner of Baseball used to be a unique position in American sports - somebody trying to do what's right for the good of the professional game. There were many scandals involving the commissioners themselves, particularly with regards to the color barrier and free agency, but the position itself was still respected and fans thought (rightly or wrongly) that the Commissioner was going to rule fairly. Nobody thinks that about Bud Selig. Brewers owner Bud Selig was installed as an tool of the owners after a coup by those same owners put Faye Vincent's head on a proverbial stick. Selig's term in office corresponds very closely with the 'Steroids Era' so Vincent is a good go-to guy for a quote. I'd like to hear Peter Ueberroth on the subject as well.

2007-11-18 20:40:59
31.   OldYanksFan
Individual First Basemen PMR, 2007, Visit Smooth Distance Model, 2007 data only (1000 balls in play)
DougOut finished 1st and Andy Phillips 3rd.
2007-11-18 23:03:48
32.   Al Rogers
JETER
Isn't this a lighter version of Bonds' tax problems?

What's wrong with you !!!

Bonds actively hid income vs Jeter openly disputing his state residency.

Jetes spends 120 days in NYC, tops. Another 100 days on the road and the balance in Florida. It's a legitimate issue, not evasion.

As for having multiple sex partners - there's no need to be jealous.

Geez, it's not like he's Bernie Kerik rolling in the ashes of Ground-Zero with various Mistresses, as his wife goes through labor.

ps. Selena Roberts is a Baaadaass! S.I. is very lucky.

2007-11-19 03:43:24
33.   Raf
28 Given the antics I've seen over the years, there are some fans that deserve a chair-shot...
2007-11-19 05:49:20
34.   rbj
18 No, but you did use the word "incident" and brought it up as a reason to hesitate on using Jeter as a role model. For me, it's a nonissue. And it has nothing to do with it being Derek Jeter or a Yankee. I also do not care that A-Rod goes to strip clubs or that he was seen about with a woman not his wife. I really do not care about the private lives of others. I wish gossip columns would go away. If someone like Steve Garvey or Jimmy Swaggart holds himself up as a paragon of virtue, then yes it's o.k. to point out they aren't. I don't see Derek, or Alex, or the Babe as having done that. They position themselves as baseball players.

As for the tax issue, I think Derek was probably trying to dodge NY taxes by establishing Fla. residency. I do not view that as wrong, as long as he actually did establish residency, which is a fact to be determined. Nothing wrong with using the law to your advantage to avoid taxes. I would feel the same way if it were A-Rod or Bonds.

2007-11-19 06:17:37
35.   Raf
34 Will Weiss also framed the incident in the context of being a parent. I couldn't care less either, but I'm not a parent. That may lend a different perspective.

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