Via Wally Matthews -
Alex Rodriguez may not be the New York Yankees’ captain, but lately he has taken to playing the role of one in the clubhouse.
Derek Jeter, of course, is the real captain, and with A-Rod, you are never sure if what you are getting is genuine or the baseball equivalent of an actor portrayal.
But if you had stumbled from an alternate universe into the visitor’s clubhouse at Comerica Park after the Yankees had dropped their third straight game to the Detroit Tigers, 6-3, on Thursday afternoon, it would have been easy to mistake the tall fellow in the light gray suit in the right corner of the room as just another player, and the slightly taller fellow in the charcoal suit holding court along the left-hand wall as the boss.
Here was Jeter, given the day off against his will by his manager, rolling his suitcase toward the team bus, head down and uninterrupted by reporters, while five yards away, A-Rod was taking on the various roles of clubhouse greeter, maitre d’ and team spokesman.
Spotting a scrum of reporters waiting to interview Eduardo Nunez, Jeter’s replacement for the day at shortstop who made the error that cost the Yankees the game, A-Rod was quick to offer his assistance.
“You guys are going to need some help,” he said to the group. Then he summoned a Spanish-speaking team employee to serve as Nunez’s interpreter.
A few moments later, after Nunez had mumbled out his mea culpa, it was A-Rod’s turn to act as the elder statesman of the clubhouse, delivering a de facto pep talk to Nunez, expounding on the nuances of playing shortstop — you will remember he used to play the position a long time ago — and taking the time to remind his listeners, “Hitting is something I know how to do very well.”
This is so wrong. Go to a Yankees game at Yankee Stadium and see what happens after the visiting team takes BP. You’ll see Jeter, Cano, Swisher, Gardner, Granderson and Teixeira grouped behind first base doing their wind sprints. And, much later, maybe 15 minutes before the start of the game, here comes A-Rod to do his sprints – but he’ll do it about 40 yards away from the group, out in right field, by himself. He’s not one of the boys, at all.
I’ve seen this at many, many, Yankees games.
Also, just before the game, you’ll see Cano and Jeter do long toss. Who does A-Rod do his long toss with? Eduardo Nunez – that’s who! Typical A-Rod, getting a rookie from Latin America to be his caddy of sorts. He did it with Melky. And, he did it with others in Texas. (That’s why Buck banned the speaking of Spanish in the clubhouse – because A-Rod started a clique there.)
All A-Rod was doing yesterday was taking care of his clubby concubine. That doesn’t make him a leader, not at all.