Serious business, this latest black eye to baseball's image, this latest bad example to the kids in America, this latest affront to the record books. We should all be simultaneously saddened and up in arms over it.
Maybe later. After we're done laughing that it's Alex Rodriguez.
Sorry, I can't keep a straight face. Of course it's funny. It's Alex Rodriguez, the highest paid player in the game, the most insecure player in the game, the least sympathetic player in the game. It's not just funny. it's hilarious.
It won't be funny the next time it comes up and bites a Met. It won't be funny the next time it comes up at all. But it is funny that it's A-Rod. It's funny that camera crews hit the street and ask Yankees fans to gauge how distraught they are that their hero has feet of anabolic clay.
It's funny because is Alex Rodriguez anyone's hero? He's a great baseball player who has put up great baseball numbers and, as best as can be gleaned from the public record, hasn't shot anybody, but what is heroic about this guy? Even in the realm of sports, putting aside the lessons we learned eight years ago about applying the label of heroic to athletes, what has this guy got going on, exactly, beyond major talent?
Alex Rodriguez isn't heroic. He's not even perversely admirably anti-heroic like Barry Bonds or, if you've made a heavy-duty pact with Satan, Roger Clemens. You booed Bonds and Clemens because they were booworthy. Is Alex Rodriguez really worth the boos he receives once you get past booing his uniform? There is nothing interesting at all about Alex Rodriguez except how much he wants to be thought of as intriguing, alluring or exotic. We're not even talking about boring as a choice like his teammate who plays short. Boring is that guy's thing, and he does it very well. He doesn't play short as well as Rodriguez, but Rodriguez decided five years ago it was in his best interest to not ask to play short, even if he was, as with everything else on a diamond, better at it than everybody around. He even interfered at first base with more flair than the average baserunner.
He's a “Lightning Rod” only because he's exceedingly rich and considered a nice looking fella. His swing is electric. His demeanor is not. To borrow from the outstanding writer Michael Lewis on the subject of Lamar Alexander running for president in 1996, his “words turn to steam as soon as they leave his lips”. Which is fine, but boy does Alex Rodriguez strive to be fascinating. Strive and fail. I've lost track of all the mini-scandals in the A-Rod era. None of them showed up in the boxscore the way his .071 batting average in the '06 ALDS did (now that was funny). The only true scandal around A-Rod is how much this guy gets paid to play baseball.
And that he apparently cheated at it despite playing it better than anyone else.
A little more than a year after declaring to Ms. Katie Couric that he never used steroids, it is reported pretty confidently that he used steroids. If it's not as funny as Rod Blagojevich trying to sell a United States Senate seat and then denying it with ever increasing ferocity, then it's close enough.
Hope we have better luck with our own Rod.