Sunday, June 03, 2007

Give ARod a Break

Remember that ARod love train that was travelling throughout the nation in April. I remember Krauss walking into our room from lacrosse practice one April night (I think the Yanks were playing the DRays) and upon hearing the news that Rodriguez had hit another bomb, responding "OMG, he did it again, he did it again" while scurrying around like a teenager who had discovered the wonders of Playboy. It was actually really weird, but that's not the point. The point is that everybody was lovin ARod. All that bad will from the errors and the non-Jeter loving of last year had vanished with game winning homers and Grand Slams.

There was no way for ARod to continue the pace he set in April. I repeat NO WAY. And yet when his average slid to a paltry
.300 and he still led the American League in homers and RBIs, the New York media turned on him. When I arrived in the city last week, media members were talking about ARod's "slump", and how he was one of the main reasons for the Yanks being so far out of first place. Again, he's batting .300 and was near the top of the league in almost every significant offensive category. And then news came out about his apparent infidelity from his wife. If you haven't heard already, ARod was caught first going out to dinner, then attending a strip club, and finally heading up a hotel's elevator with a blonde woman equipped with ginormous breasts.

To say the media had a field day would be an understatement. Metro New York was on this story so hardcore that they had me write an article about it on my first day of work with them. Of course, they didn't run it but whatever. Then on Wednesday night ARod got caught yelling something at Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark during a routine pop up, forcing Clark to miss the thing. Of course he got reamed out again by the media. Let's stop here and think about what we're doing to ARod.

We're criticizing him for infidelity against his wife. That doesn't seem unreasonable considering he has a child with her. But then again, are you fucking serious? If you think more than 50 percent of major sports athletes don't have girls on the side, you're crazy. LeBron's got one kid with his baby's mama and has another on the way. He just said in an interview that he would miss the birth of that child for the Finals. Seriously, athletes cheat on their wives all the time. When I worked for the AA Bowie Baysox, players used to request two sets of tickets on opposite sides of the field. One set for the wife and kids, another for the girl on the side and her friends. Yet, when a guy like ARod gets caught, the media portrays him as some unGodly villain, despite the fact that his behavior was set by the culture he works in.

This guy cannot get a break. If I were him, I would definitely be opting out of my contract this year.
I would want to get as far away as possible from the New York media mob.

And then there's the whole popup thing. When I first saw the play, I thought it was a savvy move. In baseball terms, ARod created an extra out for his team, and they certainly need that extra out given the fact that ARod, Jeter, and Posada have been about the only players hitting this season. Howie Clark, one of those guys who bounces around the minors and majors, MISSED a routine pop-up that any third grader could have caught. ARod didn't miss that pop up. He was trying to help his team win the game and of course he just gets pounded on. Was it a bush league move? I don't think so. It was no more bush league than a catcher talking shit to a batter while he's hitting. We're 54 games into the season and Arod's got 20 home runs, 47 RBIs and is hitting .293. That projects out to about 60 homers and nearly 150 RBIs. Those are MVP numbers and this New York area is just killing him. Even Joe Torre (and if you remember I called for his firing after last season) bashed ARod this week.

ARod is not the problem. The problems surround a litany of things including the facts that: Johnny Damon can't throw, Abreu has been atrocious both in the field and at the plate, the pitching is OLD, Torre continues to mishandle the bullpen, and no one seems to notice that Jeter is on pace to TRIPLE the amount of errors he had in the field last year. There's more but I think you get the point. We need to lay off Alex Rodriguez because frankly, he's got a pretty good shot at going down as one of the top 5 greatest baseball players of all time. The stats back it up.

And this gets me to a bigger problem with New York City: The media. They are completely and utterly unreaosnable.

I've been in New York City for a week now and specifically been working for a newspaper in New York City for almost a week. And I've come to a realization: Everything you hear about the New York media is true. They are just brutal unless their teams are the best. It being baseball season, right now the talk of the town is the Yankees and their stunning collapse. People here are downcast that the team worth over 200 million dollars has an equivalent record to the Nationals. The media is all over everybody because this team has essentially been eliminated from the AL East race already. But as bad as things have gone for the Yanks (and I don't know if anybody could have imagined this bad of a start to the season) there's still hope. There are over 100 games remaining in this young season and New York sits just seven games out. That is far from insurmountable. I don't think the media here understands that you can still win the World Series as a wild card team. In fact, in five of the past six seasons, one of the teams in the World Series has been a Wild Card. A Wild Card team won the Fall Classic three straight years (2002-2004). So simply being a Wild Card team is far from the end of the world.

And that gets to the crux of my problem with this town and its media. They are just brutal. I don't understand why people even root for the team given how negative the media is towards them. The people on the streets are even brutal. I suggested to my new editor at the newspaper where I'm working that we as a paper take a different approach concerning some coverage about the Yankees. I suggest we write an article about how the Yanks are still just seven games out after such a ridiculously horrible beginning. The guy seriously looked at me like I was trying to convince him to eat fried poo. He was like "Mark, this isn't DC or Michigan or whereever. The media here expects the best and anything less than the best is unacceptable". And he told me this with a straight face. I absolutely completely disagree with the philosophy of just completely badmouthing a team like that. We're not even halfway through the season yet. Lay off.

It's going to be a long season even if the team is able to turn it around. For some weird reason, getting to the play in the playoffs and having as good a shot at a title as anyone else just isn't enough.

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