Wed 4 Mar 2009
“I wish [Jose Reyes] was leading off on our team, playing on our team. “That’s fun to watch. Anytime you have that type of speed. I mean, we have a guy in [Brett] Gardner that’ll be fun. That’s probably the most you can have, watching those guys run.“-Alex Rodriguez
Ever since Alex Rodriguez became a Yankee, it’s been a three-ring circus. Arguably the game’s best player who during his time here has won two MVPs including a memorable 2007 eclipsing Joe DiMaggio for the greatest season by a right handed hitter in Bronx Bomber lore, it’s always something else with this guy that makes him such aÂ distraction.
We could cite all his postseason failures resulting in only one Yankee playoff round victory but what’s the point? It’s oldÂ news around these parts with the admitted steroids user creating a whole new reason for teammates to hate him.
Oh. They won’t say it to his face or publicly as with that phony press conference with him faking tears while pausing a couple of weeks ago in Tampa looking totally uncomfortable reading a written statement he didn’t even write.
Anything for needless PR even in a time when Mr. Rodriguez should’ve been more sincere not worrying about his image which already had been destroyed by the stunning discovery forcing him to come clean even if he protected his cousin. Of couse,Â that became a running joke around here with the “My Cousin Vinny” references. If only it were as amusing as Joe Pesci’s classic character from the 1992 box office hit.
Nothing A-Rod does is ever funny. Have you ever heard him try to make people laugh? They had him speak atÂ a University of Miami dinnerÂ for their baseball facility which he donated thousands having it named for him. All well and good for the kid who grew up in South Florida. It just was a little awkward watching him attempt humor referencing his tough week leading up. Sometimes, it’s better not to say anything.
In that spot, the focus wasn’t performance enhancing drugs but something one of the game’s greatest stars did out of kindness. Perhaps he should’ve stuck to the topic leaving the other stuff for the media vultures when Spring Training continued at the Yankee complex.
It’s true that nobody’s perfect no matter what the Mike Lupicas of the world tell you acting all high and mighty while cashing in on a fake home run race with books and then acting all stunned when the truth comes out. Everyone makes mistakes. Rodriguez committed a bad one making a poor choice which he was forced to fess up to because his Player’s Association didn’t destroy some random positive tests in 2003. The general public was never supposed to know proving youÂ can’t rely on anyone.
It hasn’t been entirely fair to A-Rod whose name has beenÂ kicked around in the mud ever since while 103 other players haven’tÂ had their reputations damaged. You almost want to feel bad for the guy because a dark storm cloud seems to follow him no matter what he does.
If only he’d let us in and not come off so fake. It’s why the whole notion of him being referred to by former bench coach Larry Bowa in Joe Torre’s book The Yankee Years as A-Fraud wasn’t a surprise. It just reaffirmed what we already knew even if it was meant to lighten the mood taking pressure off.
Alex Rodriguez is a magnet who will always attract a large crowd. That’s what happens when you go from a 10-year $252 million deal to 10 years $300 million while becoming the youngest slugger to reach 500 home runs in line to chase down another cheat Barry Bonds who has his own battle in court coming. Speaking of circuses.
So, was it any shock that on a day Rodriguez learned he had a cyst in his hip which could sideline him from competing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic that he’d make another silly comment indicating that he wished Mets shortstop Jose Reyes could play on the Yankees and bat leadoff?
While it was a nice notion paying tribute to how great and exciting Reyes is, it probably wasn’t the brightest idea given that Rodriguez is a teammate of Derek Jeter and another pretty good leadoff guy in Johnny Damon.
Predictably, it created another big story for the New York media to discuss while panicked Met fans already have the sky falling due to their ace Johan Santana being pushed back from Opening Day to the fifth game of the season due to his elbow which the club won’t take an MRI on. That is a whole other topic about a franchise which clearly needs a good kick in the ass. Maybe they’ve been hanging around A-Rod.
Is it bad to say what he did about the rival shortstop in the big city? Probably not. Jose Reyes is a very fun player to watch. The way he worded itÂ wasn’t the best and immediately put him on the defense indicating that’s not what he meant.
New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro had a good column entitled, “Alex Not In Same Class As Captain America ” about the big difference between Jeter and him when it comes to leadership.
This excerpt sums up why so many respect the declining Jeter including Phils’ shortstop Jimmy Rollins who will sit out most games despite being a better player:
A leader? Would you like to know what a leader does? A leader, when asked the other day about David Wright, says something like this: “I have a great deal of respect for him, because he’s talented and he loves to win, and he plays hard. It’s a great challenge playing against him, so I’m happy to have the chance to play with him for a little while.“
That’s what Jeter said about Wright. He didn’t say how wonderful it would be if Wright joined the Yankees – even though there have to be moments when he feels exactly that. He has been criticized for not publicly defending A-Rod more, but it is on days like this that you realize his silences are as loud as any words he might employ.
You can’t be appointed to that kind of leadership. You either have it or you don’t.
Some friendly advice for Rodriguez.Â Next time,Â think beforeÂ you speak.