Thursday, March 15, 2007

Talking Baseball

Alright, I promised myself that I wouldn’t do this until baseball season started, but…well, I lied (to myself not to you – calm down). The thing is, I need to talk about the Yankees. And while I would normally give you three more weeks of peace, it turns out I have to vent. About A-Rod.

You don’t know me that well yet, but I’m actually not an A-Rod hater. I never boo him at games – although I do bitch about him to my friends whenever he chokes (which is a little too often for my taste) – and I never bash A-Rod publicly (until now apparently).

Because, honestly, for the past three years I’ve mainly just felt sorry for him. I mean sure, he’s good looking (guys – he is), he’s ungodly rich, and he’s phenomenally talented. But he’s also sensitive. He’s a people-pleaser. He’s the guy who just wants to be popular – the little puppy just looking for our approval. And New York has collectively rejected and mocked him in response. Repeatedly.

Take the Central Park incident last season. A-Rod went to the park with his family on a hot fucking day, and he took off his shirt. That night he went out and had a craptastic game. So what did the papers do? They freaking ran the shirtless pictures of him and blamed his poor play on his lack of work ethic. They intimated that he was lounging around the park instead of working on his game. Complete bullshit, sure, but great copy.

So yeah, I feel sorry for him. I don’t mind that he wants everyone to like him. I don’t mind that he makes a lot of money – I’ve resigned myself to drinking $8 beers at the stadium while sitting in my $80 seats, watching my team WIN. I don’t even mind that he comes across as a little fake; hell, it’s better than coming across as a dickhead. I just don’t mind him. He tries hard. He seems like a perfectly nice guy.

But I don’t think he belongs in NY.

He’s too sensitive, and we’re eating him alive. He is, quite simply, not cut out for the Yankees; he wants to be, but he’s not. He will never be great here (don’t even bring up the 2005 MVP thing – as any Yanks fan will tell you, greatness begins and ends in October). And the spotlight is wearing on him. Between the local papers regularly killing him, the fans not accepting him, and magazines reporting on the situation, he has started to snap.

But the thing is, the errors, the slumps, the hideous postseasons, and even my own doubts over his ability to handle the pressure, didn’t inspire me to write this post. No, it’s his big fucking mouth that has inspired me to write this post.

When A-Rod decided to talk about his off the field relationship (or lack thereof) with Jeter this spring, I overlooked it. I thought it was stupid of him to answer any questions about a topic that wasn’t pertinent to his job – as Jeter pointed out – but whatever. If he felt strongly enough about it, I was willing to let it go.

But then he kept talking.

Apparently, without even being asked about it a couple of days ago, A-Rod brought up his free agent option for the end of the season. He was on the radio show ‘Mike and the Mad Dog,’ and he decided to mention how he wants to make sure “from the fans [and] management, I’m wanted here.” What? Why? Because “I have an option at the end of the year, and we’ll see what happens after that.” Um, excuse me?

Not only does that not sound like a guy who wants to be here (no shit), but it also kind of sounds like he’s calling out the fans. It sounds like he’s asking us to let him know we appreciate him. And it’s kind of making me not appreciate him at all. Because he may be talented and hard working, but he’s not irreplaceable. In fact, I don’t remember us winning any World Series rings with him, and I distinctly remember winning a few without him. So we don’t really owe him our loyalty. We don’t need him. I will either boo or cheer him as I see fit, but make no mistake – it’s MY choice. And he’s starting to piss me off.

So this is what I’m thinking. If he does a great job, doesn’t make me cringe every time he comes up to the plate with a man on third and two outs, and stops bitching and moaning about the people who help pay his salary, I’ll cheer. I’ll want him back. There is nothing I want more than for him to prove me wrong about the whole ‘not cut out for New York’ thing.

But if he keeps this whining thing going, I’m going to have a problem; and I’m guessing so is he. Because part of being in NY is taking it like a man. He needs to get back to that phony façade – where he accepted responsibility without complaining – and he needs to do it soon. It was one of the reasons I didn’t boo him; because I honestly didn’t think he deserved it. Only now he’s making me think otherwise. Maybe now I’m not so sure. Maybe now I need him to earn my respect.

How’s that newfound honesty feeling today, A-Rod?

(Vent over. Sense of humor will return tomorrow.)


onthevirg said...

A-rod's an awesome ball player, but he's never going to cut it in NYC, even if the Yanks (Go Angels!) win a WS with him. He NEEDS to be liked so much that it's never going to work out well. Look what happened in Texas. He signed that huge contract and not only did he want to win, but he wanted/needed fans to love him despite the insane amount of money he was making. The problem there is that most fans hated him for being a money grubbing tool of Borass. It's like that Stuart Smalley (?) sketch, "Darn it...people like me!" And he's never going to get that kinda slack playing for the Yanks, Mets or Red Sox with their rabid fan base.

Redhead said...

The thing is, the money he makes really doesn't bother me - I'd take it if someone offered it to me. And I don't even blame him for wanting people to like him, because while I don't exactly respect that need, I can't dislike him for that. It's the fact that he lets all of it get in the way of doing his job that pisses me off. And for him to now basically demand that we treat him better? I don't take orders very well.