Monday, October 29, 2007


Look At Me!!!!

I’ve never had much of a problem with Alex Rodriguez. I suppose if he was choking on all of my team’s post season chances I might think he’s overrated but you can’t lay a post season egg if you don’t get to the playoffs and A-Rod has been an integral part of that equation for the Yankees.

I also don’t really have much of a problem with his bush league antics. Slapping the ball out of a wayward glove and calling off a fielder with an “I got it” is low but hardly a disgrace to baseball. It’s more childish than cheating.

There’s no question that A-Rod is vastly overpaid. In the minds of most fans athletes are all overpaid but when you consider the revenue they generate quite a few professional athletes are actually underpaid. LeBron James and Tiger Woods come to mind as two guys who should get paid just for breathing. Both are single handedly responsible for generating at least ten times the revenue they are paid. Tiger’s mere presence at a PGA event doubles patronage and LeBron has increased the overall value of the Cavaliers by nearly 200 million dollars.

Even by those standards A-Rod is overpaid. Because of salary cap provisions A-Rod can push a team over the limit and incur a luxury tax. That makes the real cost of signing A-Rod a lot higher than his total contract value. Teams with the assets to afford this financial impact have to win a championship to avoid losing money on the year. Even the endlessly wealthy New York Yankees struggled to stay in the black while shouldering just a portion of A-Rod’s deal. People sometimes forget that part of A-Rod’s contract was being paid by the Rangers. Another caveat in that contract was a player option. That’s where A-Rod proved what a jerk he is.

He doesn’t owe the Yankees a damned thing. Opting out of that contract doesn’t make A-Rod an A-hole. He’s got every right to pursue a better deal with a team that will appreciate him more. The Yankees are a calculating organization and Yankee fans are myopic brats who lack any semblance of class. Screw them. A-Rod is a better defensive shortstop than Derek Jeter but the Yankees refused to slide Jeter over to the hot corner for fear of offending him. If Jeter was half the leader everybody makes him out to be he would have volunteered to move over but Jeter’s ego is almost as oppressive as A-Rod’s. A big part of the reason A-Rod never really seemed to fit in with the Yankees is because Jeter happily fostered the idea that A-Rod wasn’t a “real” Yankee. So be it. It’s also worth pointing out that Jeter’s heroic post season performances are ancient history and his lackluster play in the ALDS was even more atrocious than A-Rod’s. Jeter’s a loser too.

But A-Rod trumped everybody. He could have waited until a few days after the World Series to announce he was terminating his contract. It wouldn’t have made him any more or less valuable on the open market to declare his intentions next week. But A-Rod couldn’t do that. He waited until the deciding game was well under way to tell the world that he was pursuing free agency. Of course the sports outlets started reporting it immediately and it became a topic of conversation throughout the game.

A-Rod’s move was a calculated attempt to steal the spotlight. It reveals a lack of respect for the game and its fans. It should weigh heavily on the minds of his future employers but it won’t. People will talk about his timing and his selfishness but over the coming months the bidding will begin and A-Rod will ink a 300 million dollar contract. He’ll put up great stats, break records and eventually land himself in the hall of fame because nobody will stop to investigate the story behind the numbers.

And that’s where baseball goes bad. Pick a sports hall of fame and you can name at least a dozen players who have been inexplicably snubbed but baseball sets the standards for unworthy honorees. Baseball writers are notorious for hiding behind the numbers and avoiding making and decisions about a player’s personality, leadership and overall character. A-Rod might prove to be so outstanding that his numbers will transcend the intangibles but the fact that they won’t even be discussed is why baseball is such a joke. We know A-Rod’s a jerk, but nobody will dare hold him accountable.

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