Friday, February 22, 2008

Re-Examining the A-Rod myth

DMZ at USSMariner recently posted an essay on the fans' attitudes toward Alex Rodriguez, then and now. Though I appreciate his generally thoughtful examination, I disagree on several points.

First, I think the reason Seattle fans felt betrayed (and certainly the the reason I did) was that he was so unbelievably good. We're not crying over the Randy Winns that left. The vitriol spouted at A-rod indicates the fans' passionate about baseball and the Mariners, not their ignorance.

In addition, my memory is that A-rod seemed to make a BIG deal that his decision wouldn't be based on the financials, that he wasn't just looking for the highest bidder. And after the deal, A-rod still tried to defend the decision without acknowledging that the money had played a big part. That disingenuousness after the deal was not only kind of pathetic, but also called into question the sincerity of his earlier claims. DMZ is right to say we felt played for fools, but he isn't nearly as charitable to us for feeling that way as he is to A-rod for taking the deal.

DMZ calls his years with Seattle "an act of generosity," but that really hinges on 1) an inequitable contract system for which Alex had no part in creating and 2) a decision to sign an extension. He claims his agent was advising him not to sign the extension, but that, it appears, is a conjecture, not based on any verifiable source. If he wants to refrain from condemning A-rod based on conjecture, he has to refrain from exonerating him in the same manner.

DMZ claims he is not "refuting" the myth, as he did with Randy Johnson, but "examining" it, but I think that is misleading. He is clearly refuting the myth, arguing that A-rod did not deserve the anger bestowed on him. His worst conclusion about Alex Rodriguez is "we don't really know."

Personally, I'm over the whole saga now, it having been several years. My reaction at the time, which was echoed by many fans, was probably too heated, more vicious that A-rod really deserved. But DMZ's examination is too charitable toward A-rod.

I come to this conclusion: Alex Rodriguez is a fantastic player and a lousy celebrity, good on the field and terrible with the press. He would have done better (and would still do better, even now) to stop trying to ingratiate himself to the press and the public, and let his play on the field do the talking.

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