It’s been a tough season for the New York Yankees, and an even tougher week for former Mariner Alex Rodriguez.
As he marches toward an inevitable Hall of Fame inclusion, A-Rod continues to create his own potholes along the way. Getting photographed with a stripper entering his hotel last week?
That might actually help his street cred.
There was that almost effeminate slap at the ball as he ran to first base and tried to knock the ball out of a pitchers glove. Any time anyone wants to make fun of Mr. Rodriguez, that clip will show up.
Just last month, he slid hard into second base to break up a double play – the kind of stuff hard-nosed players do – then unfortunately through a late and flagrant elbow. That’s the kind of thing dirty players do, and Rodriguez knew it.
And just this past week, Alex shouted at a rookie infielder camped under a pop fly. Toronto insists he shouted ‘mine.’ A-Rod said he shouted ‘Haaa!’
Either way, the rookie backed away and the ball dropped.
The saddest aspect of all this is that Rodriguez, who insists he respects the game and its players, has insisted upon defending himself in each case. And doing so with, shall we say, little white lies.
Slapping at the ball? That, he said, was well within the rules.
The elbow to the groin during a slide? Used to happen to him all the time?
The shout at a man under a fly? Happens to him, he said, several times a week.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
What A-Rod has lacked throughout his career, in Seattle, Texas and now New York, is respect for his game beyond the obvious talents. He has frustrated and angered more teammates than he’s befriended.
It’s possible all these things have been misguided efforts to prove to his team how he can do the subtle things that win games – but no one has laughed harder at these antics than current and former teammates.
All Alex has ever needed to do on or off the field is be himself, but he’s never been comfortable with that. By trying to be all things to all people, he’s disappeared into a muddied self-image no one completely understands.
Small wonder one of the greatest talents of his generation will join his fourth team next season. The betting line has him in Anaheim.
The trouble for Alex reminds me of something pitcher Andy Hassler once told me.
"Where ever you go, there you are."
Alex has spent a lot of time leaving tough situations, and never seems to concede much of the problem was Alex Rodriguez.