New York Yankees Workout Session

A-Rod is supposed to be embarrassed about being rich and having famous movie star girlfriends?


Alex Rodriguez is not great at P.R. There’s no disputing that. He’s had a couple of flubs. He’s been involved in a few controversies.  He has occasionally shot himself in the foot.

But does he really deserve the treatment he gets from Sports Illustrated today?  The august S.I. goes with a slide show, outlining what are supposed to be A-Rod’s “most embarrassing moments.”  A great many of the “incidents” however, don’t really qualify. Among them:

  • Being demoted to eighth in the batting order in the 2006 ALDS.  All players slump. But really: isn’t putting the mid-decade version of A-Rod eighth in the order more embarrassing for Joe Torre than A-Rod? It was a classic panic move by a guy who is lauded for being cool. How is that A-Rod’s problem?
  • The “Ha!” or “I got it!” thing in Toronto when A-Rod yelled something to Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark to make him give up on a pop fly.  Depending on whose story you believe it may not be the best sportsmanship, but A-Rod has his share of “all is fair in love and war” defenders. Many of the people mad at him for it were unwritten rules fanatics, and you know how I feel about the so-called unwritten rules. Not his finest hour, but I bet that stuff happens more often than we think.
  • The opt-out:  announcing A-Rod’s opt-out during the 2007 World Series was bad form. But are we sure that was A-Rod’s doing and not Scott Boras’?  A-Rod famously negotiated his contract a few months later without Boras’ help. And he has since fired the guy. Just sayin!
  • Dating Madonna:  Yeah, how silly for a guy to be interested in a woman who was held up as a universal sex symbol for most of his adolescence.
  • Dating Kate Hudson: Yeah, how silly for a guy to be interested in a woman who, for a good while there, was considered America’s sweetheart.
  • Dating Cameron Diaz: Yeah, how silly for a guy to be interested in one of Hollywood’s leading actresses.
  • Being trashed in Joe Torre’s book:  Again, how does Torre’s failure to keep in the clubhouse that which should have stayed in the clubhouse A-Rod’s fault?  The facts aren’t flattering, no, but they pale compared to Torre’s transgression in my mind.
  • The centaur paining:  Maybe I’m wrong here, but I thought that was debunked. Anyone?
  • The Dallas Braden thing:  Maybe I missed the meeting when this was all decided, but last I checked everyone thought Braden was being the jackwagon here.

I’ll give S.I. the steroids stuff (gotta hang your head when you’re caught cheating), the mirror-kiss photo in details (whoa) and the front-page-of-the-tabloid-with-the-stripper thing (gotta hang your head when you’re caught cheating), but it seems that most of the stuff on their list is either much ado about nothing or really someone else’s problem.

And really, there aren’t many things on that list that are as embarrassing as a respected publication like Sports Illustrated going all Bleacher Report with a theres-no-there-there photo slide show in an effort to maximize traffic by virtue of that which it claims is embarrassing.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.