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By Jason Keidel
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As a writer who respects the craft, I will avoid clichés as though they were grenades. But when I now think of Alex Rodriguez, the term “Can’t win for losing” comes to mind.
It’s no secret that I’ve spent thousands of words telling you why A-Rod is unlikable, and his actions are unconscionable. But even a man who makes $28 million a year to bat .270 — and .125 in the playoffs — is still human.
Whether he’s allegedly flying strippers around the world while his wife is pregnant or shredding his contract during the World Series or shooting equine cocktails up his tan tush that would make Secretariat blush, A-Rod has given us myriad reasons to dislike him, without provocation.
And his latest deeds under red leaves serve as a microcosm of his time in New York, if not on Earth. Many fans use his on-field foibles as a pretext to preach the hate. No matter what he does, some won’t be happy. But there are others among us in the netherworld of fandom who honestly take him to task because he hasn’t lived up to his summer numbers in the fall.
He handled his benching beautifully in Game 3. He said it’s all about the team, and he told his manager to do what he had to do, and he was candid enough to admit he would have not been so civil a decade ago. What more do you want?
“He’s faking it!” you say.
How would you know? Since we’re not clairvoyant, we’ll never truly know his sincerity. Besides, do you believe Derek Jeter every time he belches his bromides at every presser? I get more honesty and emotion out of my dog when I jiggle the keys in the morning than I have from Derek “Captain America” Jeter in 17 years.
There’s no doubt that A-Rod indirectly invites insatiable scrutiny, a jeweler’s eye to his unofficial reality show. He was too young, dumb and swathed in celebrity to understand that even stars are accountable on occasion. And athletics aren’t like cinema. Movie stars can go on location, film and go home, while doing the rare, perfunctory appearance to pimp their product. A-Rod plays in front of his audience, which is more than happy to remind him of his gifts and gaffes. Consider it the difference between stage and film.
Despite the ostensible embarrassment of being benched on national television during the very spot he is paid to exploit, A-Rod had yet another shot at redemption in the eighth inning last night. As has always been the case this October, he failed. As usual, he struck out, his bat farther away from the ball with each swing.
Most of us have a slice of sadism in us, so giving at least a little grin while A-Rod flops around the batter’s box like a marlin is understandable. But we’ve now reached redundancy, overkill and adolescent behavior. Let’s leave that to those more qualified.
Have Yankees fans gone too far? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…