• Applauding Alex

    Posted by on July 28th, 2010 · Comments (24)

    Sweeny Murti likes the way A-Rod has handled the chase for #600 this season. Here are two snips from what he’s written on it –

    I don’t usually give Alex Rodriguez much credit for things he says. When he does his talking on the field, there is little to argue. He is one of the greatest players of all-time. But when he opens his mouth, he usually ends up sticking both feet in it. There are no “thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee” or “luckiest man on the face of the earth” moments here. So it is with great wonder, amazement, and downright admiration that I applaud A-Rod for his public comments leading up to #600.

    During the prelude to 600 A-Rod has steered away from any statements remotely celebrating the achievement, continuing to preach the importance of the team’s winning ways. The guy who used to be all about ME is now about WE. I don’t know if it’s calculated or not, but it’s the smartest move A-Rod has made in a long time.

    A-Rod brings enough scorn upon himself just for being A-Rod, the highest paid player everyone loves to hate on the team everyone loves to hate. If he chose to make celebratory statements about reaching this milestone it would take about a nanosecond for people like you and me to crush him for conveniently ignoring his three-year period of admitted steroid use.

    But if A-Rod never pats himself on the back, he doesn’t open the door to all that criticism. Sure, we can all look at the home run total and make of it what we wish. But for those of us who have made a habit of taking what the guy says, shaking our heads and laughing at him…well, we are all out of luck this time.

    The guy who is a walking, talking PR nightmare is actually saying the right things for once.

    Of course, there’s an “after” to be considered here as well – not just the “before.” And, hopefully, once A-Rod does hit #600, Rodriguez handles it as well as he is handling the “before” period. I’m not saying that Alex won’t or can’t do this – just saying that the possibility still exists that this event could turn into a bad PR thing, if not handled tastefully, and that would erase how it’s been handled up to this point.

    Comments on Applauding Alex

    1. MJ Recanati
      July 28th, 2010 | 11:01 am

      Gee, Sweeny doesn’t hold back on the backhanded compliments…

    2. July 28th, 2010 | 11:16 am

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Gee, Sweeny doesn’t hold back on the backhanded compliments…

      He’s around the guy everyday. Think there’s something written here that’s not true?

    3. MJ Recanati
      July 28th, 2010 | 11:36 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      He’s around the guy everyday.

      Doesn’t mean he’s not letting personal feelings color his reporting. Being an insider only means so much in terms of getting the true essence of a person and doesn’t mean you’re more objective simply because you’re around someone more.

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Think there’s something written here that’s not true?

      Yes. My perception is that the whole “selfish” thing is an overplayed/overhyped storyline and that Rodriguez was never quite as self-centered as he was made out to be.

      Just because things get repeated so often that they become “truthy” nevertheless doesn’t make them factual.

    4. July 28th, 2010 | 12:05 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      My perception is that the whole “selfish” thing is an overplayed/overhyped storyline and that Rodriguez was never quite as self-centered as he was made out to be. Just because things get repeated so often that they become “truthy” nevertheless doesn’t make them factual.

      What is your perception based on? Facts? Or, just a wish?

      I understand the concept of conventional wisdom – and that “things get repeated so often that they become ‘truthy’ nevertheless doesn’t make them factual.” Like, you don’t catch a cold for being out, wet, in the cold.

      But, do you really think that so many members of the media who have witnessed and dealt with A-Rod on an everyday basis, as well as others in the game who have interacted with him, are wrong when they say he’s self-centered?

      Now, I know, yes, there are reports that he’s taken Cano and Cervelli under his wing, etc. But, we heard those same types of things when he was in Texas – that he started a clique with the Latin players on the team to the point where it became an issue where Showalter banned them from speaking Spanish in the clubhouse and in meetings if they were also able to speak English.

      So, maybe – JUST MAYBE – the talk we have seen about him being a leader for the Latin players is just a repeat of the stunt that he pulled in Texas – creating a posse for himself to serve his ego? Think that’s impossible?

    5. July 28th, 2010 | 12:13 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:

      “So, maybe – JUST MAYBE – the talk we have seen about him being a leader for the Latin players is just a repeat of the stunt that he pulled in Texas – creating a posse for himself to serve his ego? Think that’s impossible?”

      Oh, good grief. Two people he’s also close with are CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. Both are big stars, and neither is Latino. That hardly fits your theory, though.

      And A-Rod also let Nick Green live in his apartment with him when Green was a Yankee. Green isn’t Latino, either.

      You know why A-Rod is more comfortable these days as a Yankee? Maybe it has something to do with the absence of Joe Torre, who spent most of his last years sabotaging his best player, calling him nasty names behind his back and scribbling notes for his book.

      And maybe it has to do with a more friendly group of guys in the clubhouse. Brian Cashman explicitly asked CC to help build this clubhouse together.

      But geez, why do you need to make this into a race thing?

    6. Raf
      July 28th, 2010 | 12:17 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      But, we heard those same types of things when he was in Texas – that he started a clique with the Latin players on the team to the point where it became an issue where Showalter banned them from speaking Spanish in the clubhouse and in meetings if they were also able to speak English.

      That may be more an issue of control freak Showalter, more than anything else. The Rangers have more often than not, have had a sizeable Latino contingent, as evidenced by Bobby Valentine picking up spanish to (better?) communicate with his players.

      Given what Latino players go through in the minors (and majors for that matter), regarding making the adjustment, it should come as no surprise that they would be “cliquish.”

    7. July 28th, 2010 | 12:18 pm

      One other point: @ Steve Lombardi sez:

      “But, do you really think that so many members of the media who have witnessed and dealt with A-Rod on an everyday basis, as well as others in the game who have interacted with him, are wrong when they say he’s self-centered?”

      Most of these big stars think of themselves first, last and always. Heck, most athletes – period – think that way. But the media wants you to believe that A-Rod is the only self-centered person in baseball. Everybody else is out there saving orphans from campfires and getting kittens out of trees, while A-Rod is only thinking of himself. C’mon now. The media knows the score, but they stick with their one-sided characterization because it sells papers.

    8. clintfsu813
      July 28th, 2010 | 12:21 pm

      I think it might be more of an inbetween. No way is he as selfish as the media claims, IMO, but then again I have no doubt he has some selfishness in him. The same could probably be said about any major athlete that is “The best in their sport.” I dont know for sure, but it wouldnt surprise me if MJ, Tiger, and Brett Farve have some selfish tendencies.

    9. clintfsu813
      July 28th, 2010 | 12:22 pm

      Steve Lombardi sez

      Nice touch, lol.

    10. Raf
      July 28th, 2010 | 12:28 pm

      What does “selfish” even mean in the context of baseball?

    11. Evan3457
      July 28th, 2010 | 12:46 pm

      lisaswan wrote:

      One other point: @ Steve Lombardi sez:
      Everybody else is out there saving orphans from campfires and getting kittens out of trees, while A-Rod is only thinking of himself.

      Actually, as I recall A-Rod did save a kitten from a tree.

      Oh, wait, no, that was actually saving a kid in the street from getting hit by a small truck. In Boston, no less.

      But A-Rod just did it to make himself look good, I’m sure. Self-centered prick.

    12. MJ Recanati
      July 28th, 2010 | 1:03 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Lisa and Evan made my points for me so I don’t have to respond to what you wrote.

      All I can do is shake my head…

    13. Garcia
      July 28th, 2010 | 1:22 pm

      @Lisa are you serious, this is all Torre’s fault somehow? Didn’t he win two MVPs under Torre? I thought it was Jeter that made A-Rod uncomfortable, now it’s Torre. Com’on already.

      What drives me bananas is the excuses people make for A-Rod. Seriously, this is a grown man we are talking about, accountability and reason just go out the window when it comes to any discussion about A-Rod.

      If A-Rod isn’t being genuflected, then that’s just not enough — see MJ’s first comment.

      The bottom line is this:
      1. A-Rod is a crazy talented baseball
      2. He has used and admitted to steroid use
      3. Prior to the steroid allegations, he would often put his foot in his mouth. See: “I wake up earlier than everyone else, while other ball players are busy taking their kids to school”, or the Jeter Esquire piece, or the stuff about being bi-racial, or the stuff about having Reyes lead-off.
      4. He does some strange stuff – dating Madonna, kissing mirrors, pictures of him as half man – half horse.
      5. He doesn’t loaf around on the baseball field
      6. He helped the Yanks win a championship
      7. He saved a boy in Boston
      8. Before the Yankees won the championship he often choked in critical spots

      I’m sure I’m missing some things there, but that’s pretty much the executive summary. Those are all facts, that’s how he is judged – by his actions – if some of those things did not exist then stories about A-Rod would be structured in a way that are 99% positive.

    14. July 28th, 2010 | 1:31 pm

      @ MJ Recanati:

      Garcia made my points for me so I don’t have to respond to what you wrote.

      All I can do is shake my head…

    15. Evan3457
      July 28th, 2010 | 1:41 pm

      Garcia wrote:

      If A-Rod isn’t being genuflected, then that’s just not enough — see MJ’s first comment.

      I don’t think most want people to genuflect before A-Rod. I certainly don’t want to.

      I think I speak for some here when I say that the criticism of A-Rod, not just for things that happen on the field, but more especially for things not related to his play, are wildly disproportionate to the “offense”. To some extent, this is understandable; he was the “best player in the game” for a number of years, and the most highly-paid. Any player in that position is likely to get undue praise and to be criticized disproportionately.

      But it’s been disproportionate for the wrong reasons: he was terrible at self-evaluation, terrible at gauging the impact of what he said on the people he said it to (in the words of Dennis Miller, he committed the ultimate modern sin: he looked (and sounded) bad on TV), and he had the mistiming to get himself traded to a very good team that had obvious large flaws, and was thus good enough to just miss several years in a row, for which he took a way disproportionate share of blame.

      And as the Yanks faded in strength over 2004-2008, their failure became HIS failure, and then the knives came out in earnest over things no other player would have exposed on them.

      By the way, it’s nice you consider saving the boy’s life as part of his executive summary, because I never, ever see that story mentioned in any articles about A-Rod these days. It’s disappeared down the memory hole for most people. You know why? Because it can’t be reconciled with the public image of A-Rod, the immature, selfish, egotistical jerk.

      I never saw it mentioned in all the over-the-top columns after his steroid PR gathering in Tampa last March. To be fair, it was off the topic, so I can see not mentioning it then. But even now, it’s still never mentioned in any article on A-Rod, even profile pieces. Either the negative selfish/steroid image had to go, or the saving the kid story had to go. We all know which one went.

    16. MJ Recanati
      July 28th, 2010 | 1:49 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      I think Lisa and Evan make stronger arguments but, hey, you should stick with the horse that got you here. A-Rod’s a lousy human being, you know it, Sweeny knows it, everyone knows it.

    17. July 28th, 2010 | 2:22 pm

      @ Garcia: It’s not a matter of genuflecting. It’s a matter of balance. As for the Torre stuff, the record speaks for itself. When your own manager publicly second-guesses everything you do, and sells you out to Sports Illustrated on the eve of the playoffs, you might not feel real comfortable on the team. Just stating the obvious. Same goes when your captain won’t tell fans to stop booing you, when he did tell fans to stop booing Jason Giambi.

      Yeah, A-Rod is a weird dude. And he did bring a lot of negative attention on himself by saying stupid things. But is he a bad dude? I don’t think so.

      One other point I forgot to make earlier – the complete lack of objectivity and professionalism that this comment by Murti shows:

      “But for those of us who have made a habit of taking what the guy says, shaking our heads and laughing at him…well, we are all out of luck this time.”

      Um, Sweeny’s job is to cover the Yankees – not giggle with his buddies in the press box. And how unprofessional is it to laugh at somebody you cover? Or to hold a grudge against a player? So much for that objectivity these guys claim to have.

    18. Mr. Sparkle
      July 28th, 2010 | 2:58 pm

      Objectivity and professionalism from Sweeney? Remember…he’s from Philadelphia. The vindictive, nasty stuff has to seep out eventually.

    19. Raf
      July 28th, 2010 | 3:13 pm

      lisaswan wrote:

      As for the Torre stuff, the record speaks for itself. When your own manager publicly second-guesses everything you do, and sells you out to Sports Illustrated on the eve of the playoffs, you might not feel real comfortable on the team. Just stating the obvious. Same goes when your captain won’t tell fans to stop booing you, when he did tell fans to stop booing Jason Giambi.

      Regardless, Rodriguez has been a productive player since he has gotten here, and MVPs in 05 and 07 show that. Heck, even in his maligned 2006 season, he posted a 4.2 WAR, good enough for 4th on the team behind Jeter, Wang & Posada.

    20. Garcia
      July 28th, 2010 | 3:56 pm

      @Steve Why don’t you let one of your commenter’s on your blog write a “balanced” and “objective” piece on A-Rod? Because I’m seriously confused as to what people would like to see written about him.

      @lisa No offense, but that’s an emotional stance you are taking. If we look at the facts, remove all emotions out of the equation, then I don’t think the defense for A-Rod would be “Jeter didn’t stop the booing” or “my manager doesn’t like me”. In the real world, you shouldn’t have to rely on other people to defend you from your critics, and some managers don’t like their employees. It happens, no need to cry for A-Rod, or anyone else for that matter.

    21. July 28th, 2010 | 4:57 pm

      @ Garcia: I was just pointing out some context with the A-Rod stuff. My point in bringing it up in the first place was that things are much more comfortable in the clubhouse for A-Rod than they were in the Torre era. Don’t know what’s so “emotional” about pointing out the obvious. It’s like saying “water is wet” or something.

    22. Scout
      July 28th, 2010 | 5:10 pm

      With all the head shaking going on here, boys, be careful you don’t all end up on the 15-day DL. With the trade deadline approaching, we might have to deal for a new commentator for the 8th inning.

    23. Dimelo
      July 28th, 2010 | 5:52 pm

      @Lisa
      Do you have facts supporting the claim, Torre made A-Rod uncomfortable? If there are no facts supporting your assessment, it’s plain and simply a judgment based entirely on emotions. Sorry, es verda.

      Let’s go over these facts and please tell me where you disagree:
      1. A-Rod had some of his best years while playing under Torre, fact.
      2. Other than the ’04 ALDS, A-Rod was pretty awful every year he was in the playoffs under Torre, fact.
      3. Every time A-Rod came up to bat it was in fact A-Rod batting and not Torre, fact.

      You may want to make excuses for A-Rod, but let’s just say your reasoning is true – Torre made A-Rod comfortable – then isn’t that more of an indictment on A-Rod’s cojones than Torre? I wouldn’t say that too loudly and act like you are in fact making a claim for A-Rod’s defense because that’s not how I interpret that.

      Obviously you don’t like Torre, and that’s fine. We all agree A-Rod is in a better place, but the past will not be erased. It’s not OK with me to rewrite history. So it’s not the same as describing water as being wet.

    24. July 28th, 2010 | 6:01 pm

      @ Dimelo:
      “Do you have facts supporting the claim, Torre made A-Rod uncomfortable? If there are no facts supporting your assessment, it’s plain and simply a judgment based entirely on emotions. Sorry, es verda.”

      I already did. Do you think it’s normal for a manager to badmouth his player in Sports Illustrated on the eve of the playoffs? How about batting him eighth? How about Torre finding fault with A-Rod over every little thing, as his book showed? (He, the manager who had a clubby bring him green tea every day, was incensed that A-Rod asked a clubby for coffee. Now there’s an offense for the ages!)

      I don’t see why it’s some indictment of A-Rod’s cojones to suggest that he felt more comfortable in the clubhouse without Torre’s passive-aggressive sabotage at every turn. That’s human nature to feel more comfortable when you’re not around people trying to screw you over. Bernie Williams felt more comfortable when Mel Hall wasn’t around calling him Bambi all the time. Does that mean Bernie has no cojones?

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