Defending A-Rod

I do not usually quote very large blocks of texts, but I want to make an exception in this case. Joe Posnanski hits all the right notes, as usual:

In this, A-Rod may be singular in our sports scene. Everybody else has rabid defenders. If you take a moment to bash Bob Knight … or Tiger Woods … or Tony La Russa … or Derek Jeter … or Terrell Owens … or Kobe Bryant … or Ben Roethlisberger … or Michael Vick … … or Peyton Manning … or Tim Tebow … or Phil Mickelson … or Randy Moss … or Roger Clemens … or John Calipari … or Roy Williams … or Barry Bonds … or just about any other athlete or coach who might spark negative views (even if is is because they are so positively portrayed), there will likely be a swam or people who will tell you (with gusto) that you are wrong. There are a lot of people who believe John Rocker was misunderstood. But you more or less can bash A-Rod with impunity. Few will disagree. Not many believe him misunderstood…….

But, the funny thing is: To bash A-Rod properly is to concede the numbers. It is to admit — even relish — in the idea that he has been a player who had done extraordinary things. It is to grant him his natural talent, perhaps even to grant him his intense work ethic. To bash A-Rod is to outflank him. It is to say he has done those extraordinary things only for the glory of himself. It is to say that he wants constant praise for his hard work. It is to say that while the numbers look good, they do not reveal his inner weaknesses. It is to say that he cheated to compile those remarkable numbers — he could not have done it naturally. It is to say that he does not play the game right……

Still, it seems to me the key factory here is: It’s A-Rod. And all that entails. I mean, let’s face it … if that was Albert Pujols running across the mound, and that was a pitcher who has accomplished as much as Dallas Braden griping about it — say Anibal Sanchez or someone — it seems to be there would be a whole lot of “Shut your fat face, kid,” talk going on across the country.

But it’s not Pujols. It’s A-Rod. And because it’s A-Rod, there are suddenly a lot of people saying: “Yeah, you can’t just run across the mound — everybody knows that!” Because it’s A-Rod there are people admiring Dallas Braden for standing up to the big bully who dared stomp on his new carpet. Because it’s A-Rod, the story is lively and the coverage is intense and the opinion seems to be at least leaning Dallas Braden’s way. Hey look: Another reason to despise A-Rod! Dallas Braden got it right in this way. In this world of ours, you can’t go wrong standing against taxes, the declining levels of our schools and Alex Rodriguez.

Few may defend A-Rod, but I am certainly one of them, precisely for the reasons Joe highlights. No matter what Alex does, he will always be “outflanked.” Fans and players alike will always find a way to turn things that he has done into a major blight upon the face of the game, even in situations where the same actions done by a more respected player would be lauded as gritty, tough, and smart. When he plays well, people complain that he is too wrapped up in his statistics. When he helps the team to a title, his joy is explained away as being relief at having repaired his legacy. No matter what Alex does, he cannot win with an overwhelming majority of the MLB fan base.

The reason for this sort of hatred is simple: Alex is the symbol of athlete greed, receiving two contracts that greatly exceed any other contract in the history of the sport. Once people dislike a public figure, a form of confirmation bias sets in regarding any subsequent events, whereby they interpret each occurrence negatively to justify their dislike of the player. In this case, everything that happened subsequent to Alex signing that deal became justification for an irrational hatred of a player who simply had the nerve to earn a lot of money.

The facts are that Alex Rodriguez is likely to go down as one of the top 10 players of all-time, and he has gotten to that point by playing the right way. He never takes a game or even a play off, always hustles, and does whatever it takes to win. He understands his place in the Yankee tradition and the clubhouse hierarchy, deferring to Jeter by changing positions and then always deferring to him in the clubhouse. He has an intense desire to win, as nobody was more thrilled to have helped the Yankees to a championship in 2010 than Alex. Furthermore, Alex desperately wants to be liked. While that does make some of his mannerisms inauthentic at times, I simply cannot hate a player who so desperately cares about what the fanbase thinks about him. He does not dismiss the fans and just do what is best for Alex, but tries to say and do things that will make the fanbase happy. He may fail miserably at times, but I respect the fact that he is trying.

Has Alex made some poor decisions and mistakes? Sure. But when those mistakes are made by the Andy Pettitte’s of the world, everyone finds a way to move on. When Alex does it, millions of articles are written trying to dissect his explanation and question his motives. He is a human being, and is by nature flawed. That does not make him deserving of hate.

0 thoughts on “Defending A-Rod

  1. Moving to 3rd without a complaint, even though he was easily a better SS than Jeter, always put to bed the “selfish A-Rod” stuff to me. I never got the statistics argument either. I mean, is he not supposed to hit home runs and drive guys in? It seems to me that if someone has 100 runs, 150 RBI’s, and 50 home runs, that’s doing quite a bit to help his team win.

    • Curtis

      It’s amazing to me Brien, that no one ever mentions A-Rod’s willingness to switch to third. That is as selfless as a baseball player can get. To me, the animosity towards A-Rod is quite simply jealousy – by players and reporters alike. Here’s a guy who makes more money than anyone being one of the best players in history and to top it off he dates beautiful actresses. Many of the haters are still living out old high school frustrations when back then they hated the cool guys.

  2. rightclue

    arod used roids. he’s a cheater. he doesn’t deserve the HoF and I hate his guts.

    no i didn’t really mean that. that is just a sample of the inanity the common fan likes to spew out. Many casual fans aren’t idiots. THey just enjoy sports as an outlet for their busy lives.

    Personally, I dislike Lebron James of the NBA irrationally, but deep down I understand that despite his non hand shaking antics and talk about winning money over titles, he probably does want to make himself the best that he can be.

  3. I’ll be first to agree that he doesn’t deserve our “hate”, but he’s subject to additional scrutiny due to his many stupid incidents over the years, including some that touched at the “unwritten rules” of the game and his disingenuineness, if that’s a word. Sure, some have said that his speaking out was “the real ARod” and not some Boras-scripted BS and that’s probably true. But for a player, any player, in his stature to “big-time” another pro is a bad move.

    I may not love ARod as a person, but I’ll still root for him. I just don’t trust him all that much.

    • Moshe Mandel

      I dont like big-timing, but I’ll disagree in this case. A-Rod was simply noting, and rightfully so, that a player of Braden’s experience should not be lecturing a significantly more senior player on the unwritten rules of the sport.

      Now, I know that you disagree, but that’s because we already had this discussion on Twitter and you chickened out ;-)

    • Disingenuosness. :)

  4. Simon

    I am one of the few that will defend A-rod no matter what. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes that’s just nature, there’s nothing we can do about that so we have to live with it and we have to learn not to dwell on it. I was listening to Mike Francesa when he was talking about the Tiger Woods incident, he said: You don’t have to like him outside of golf or as a person, but as a player he is the one greatest golfers in the history of the game and how could anybody not like him as a player. Now that goes for anybody but for A-rod in this case it’s the same. Someone may have said something similar above me. I will always be backing A-rod no matter what because of how he plays and he is a future HOF.

  5. JD

    This is a great post and really made me think. Its not that I don’t care for ARod, its that I just dont care to see him in another stupid incident and when this happened my first instinct was not to defend him. It is absolutely true that he is attacked for every thing and my gut tells me that old Dallas doesn’t scream if it was Tex or Swisher. Its time we gave Alez some real credit for simply being able to absorb this nonsense and go out and play hard. Well done Moshe. You struck a cord.

  6. misterd

    ARod will never be my favorite player,but I’ve never been a hater. I have, however, tended to feel sorry for him, because he never seemed so comfortable in his skin, never seemed to know how to be happy. He’s allowed Boras to lead him around for the money, for the fame. He wants to be liked and respected, but seems to have no idea how to earn that. And then to play next to Jeter every day, who seems to gather love just by breathing… well, I can understand his frustrations.

    What is tragic about his use of steroids is that, unlike Bonds (at age 33), he didn’t need them to perform. Granted, I don’t know when he used them, but from a distance it seems Seattle had a pretty clean club, and Texas was a ‘roid hub, so I tend to assume he was clean all or most of the time he earned his reputation as the best player in baseball.

  7. Really great piece, Moshe. But I don’t think it’s just the money with A-Rod, it’s the competition with Derek Jeter. Everything A-Rod does is viewed in comparison with Jeter, even though the two of them are completely different personalities. When it comes down to it, Jeter is DiMaggio, while A-Rod is either Reggie Jackson or Ted Williams (take your pick.) For all the people who complain, why can’t A-Rod be like Jeter, it’s like telling your one kid, why can’t you be like your brother? Yankee fans should be lucky that we have both Jeter and A-Rod on the team, instead of trying to make Alex be something he’s not.

    Speaking of which, here’s something that really irked me on the subject. Remember how Dallas Braden instructed A-Rod that he should look to Jeter for guidance on the right way to act? Well, what did Derek say regarding this situation? He totally took Alex’s side, saying that Braden’s remarks were “out there,” and telling reporters regarding the mound ownership, “It ain’t like he brought it from home. CC was on it. Does that go for him, too?” Yet these remarks have gotten relatively little coverage in the saga.

    Tell me, if Jeter had refused to comment, or done one of those “ask Alex” responses, can you imagine what the headlines would be? This time around, Jeter had his back, as did every other Yankee interviewed about him (Girardi, Sabathia, Pettitte, Teixeira, and Chamberlain), yet the media coverage on those quotes has been, small we say, muted.

    One other point about the big-timing – the Mets Frankie Rodriguez went a lot further in denigrating Brian Bruney’s right to speak up when Bruney called him a “tired act” last year. Did anybody complain about how mean K-Rod was in putting Bruney’s career down? No. Even most Yankee fans thought Bruney was speaking out of turn, and that Rodriguez was in the right.

    • rightclue

      another excellent example of “mediocy”trying to sell papers.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      You’re right when k-rod put down bruney’s career because brian had accomplished nothing no one had a problem with it; hell many ppl said he’s right who is brian bruney to say anything but yet when alex says it it’s a problem. lol I understand ppl don’t like him but at least be truthful about it. All you have to do is ask yourself this if this happened with anther player on another team does it even get mentioned…probably for a day and then it disappears

    • +42

      It tells you all you need to know about the “controversy” that no one in the MSM has noted that Jeter pretty much openly mocked Braden over the thing. Jeter went a lot farther in denigrating Braden than A-Rod did.