Oh look, someone is forcing the “A-Rod is an ego-driven diva” narrative

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It’s obvious that, for years, Alex Rodriguez’s ego caused him trouble. He often came off as vain and self-centered in the media. Usually in ways that had little if anything to do with baseball, it should be noted. More as it relates to his public image and the like.

But we haven’t seen that for a while now, and all traces of it have been beaten out of him, it seems, in these difficult past two seasons of his. He hasn’t been the superstar slugger he’s paid to be, but he seems to have said and done the right things and has been a team player.

Which is making life somewhat difficult for the people who cover him. Because the whole thing about Raul Ibanez pinch hitting for him last night and becoming a hero begs for some old “A-Rod is an ego-driven diva” narrative, and the facts, sadly, just aren’t cooperating.

Take David Lennon’s stuff about him at Newsday today. First, from his story, which is headlined “A-Rod fails, but Ibanez stands tall,” natch:

Ibaez rewarded Girardi by swatting the tying home run in the ninth, then followed with the winning blast off lefty Brian Matusz in the 12th in a 3-2 win. Not only was Girardi vindicated, Rodriguez had no choice but to celebrate what had to be an incredibly humbling moment for him personally.

I was watching the game and what I saw was A-Rod immediately look exuberant about the homer and then bound up the steps to be one of the first to congratulate Ibanez when he crossed home plate. Indeed, even Lennon’s own quote of A-Rod belied the notion that this was some problematic moment for him:

“Maybe 10 years ago, I react in a much different way,” Rodriguez said. “But I’m in a place in my career right now where team is everything. I don’t think there was anyone in the ballpark more excited for Raul than me.”

But hey, if you want to believe that it was a moment or personal torment for the guy and that he had to force himself to act happy, I guess I can’t prove you wrong.

Lennon’s tweet about it was curious too:

What has happened in New York recently that even remotely suggests that there is a “24-1” mentality surrounding Alex Rodriguez? That he gets some sort of special treatment — or expects it — because of who he is or what he’s paid? He has struggled, but he hasn’t complained. He hasn’t ducked responsibility. He has acted like the consummate teammate and professional through these struggles. And, again, he himself talks about how it’s all team-first in the very article that Lennon is teasing here.

A-Rod has a history. Of this there is no doubt. But to treat him as if nothing has changed about him, to assume, as Lennon appears to do here, that his humble words, his team-first attitude and his happiness for Raul Ibanez last night is anything other than genuine and sincere is simply unfair and uncharitable in the extreme.

I know it may be hard to find things to write about now that you don’t have the old, egotistical A-Rod to kick around anymore, but perhaps it’s worth looking for something.

Brandon Belt, Jaime Barrios set new modern record with 21-pitch at-bat

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Angels starter Jaime Barrios and Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record with a 21-pitch at-bat in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Anaheim. Belt fell behind 1-2 and mostly kept fouling pitches off. The count ran full on the ninth pitch and Belt would foul off 11 more pitches before finally lining out to right field.

As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle notes, the previous record was set on June 26, 1998 when the Indians’ Bartolo Colon and the Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez battled for 20 pitches. Gutierrez eventually struck out.