Alex Rodriguez

alex rodriguez head

Suzyn Waldman on A-Rod: “I find him impossible to dislike”


Yankees radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman spoke to Bob Raissman of the Daily News about Alex Rodriguez. Your mileage may vary on her baseball analysis, but she nails the A-Rod analysis pretty spot-on:

“I find him impossible to dislike,” Waldman, the Yankees radio analyst, told me during a telephone conversation. “I’m not defending him. I think what he did was stupid more than anything else. I know he’s lied. He’s made every wrong decision. He says things and does things and you just want to say ‘Why?’ I also know you can’t go wrong for dumping on Alex. This is what its become. What’s he supposed to do?”

What’s he supposed to do? Don’t you read the papers, Suzyn? Exile to the Yukon is his only option. — Wait, what’s that? Oh, sorry. I’ve just been told that he can’t do that either, as he’d be all alone there, “making it all about him.”  So no, I have no idea what he should do either.

Jayson Werth on jail: “It’s not something that was fun. It’s not a destination you would choose.”

Jayson Werth

Jayson Werth recently served some time in the pokey for reckless driving (they’re serious about that in Northern Virginia). He spoke with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post about his experience:

“It’s a time in my life that I’m glad it’s behind me . . . I’ve learned my lesson. I don’t recommend the experience I had to anyone, really. It’s not something that was fun. It’s not a destination you would choose.”

It is a destination, however, which has caused Werth to want to focus more on being a good citizen. He tells Kilgore, “I don’t want to be looked at as some renegade in the community . . . I live here.” And he has made good on that, substantially ramping up his charitable work both before and after he served his five days in jail. And no, there was no ulterior motive there. It was after he was sentenced. He seems to really want to do some good.

That’s admirable, as is his vow to be more respectful of the laws. But, at the same time, one wonders if he actually understands how dangerous it is to drive 105 m.p.h. on an urban freeway:

“On some level, in our society, people want you to be sorry — say sorry and apologize — that sort of thing,” Werth said. “I would think that I’m sorry if I let anybody down. But I don’t feel like I put anybody in danger.”

The baseball media just spent two days picking apart Alex Rodriguez’s apology. Any of those folks want to take a crack at this one? Anyone?

Oh well. Good for Werth for doing his time and trying to turn it into a good. And good for Kilgore for getting what is truly an interesting story out of it. A good read. Go check it out.

Yankees fans: would you give up the 2009 title just to be rid of A-Rod?


Reading the Juliet Macur A-Rod column in the New York Times because, apparently, I hate my life and I want to die.

It’s the usual thing in bad A-Rod columns: assertions that the current situation is “untenable” and that something must be done without explaining why, exactly, something must be done. A total memory-holing of the fact that the New York Yankees wrote the freakin’ book on how to deal with off-the-field drama and have never, ever once been sunk by it. And that even if they could be, the tail end of a drama involving a 40-year-old player is pretty small potatoes compared to a lot of stuff they’ve dealt with over the years.

Fact is, the A-Rod situation is going to play itself out pretty easily, actually. He’ll either play well or he won’t. If he plays well, the Yankees will use him. If he doesn’t, they won’t. If he sucks and they need the roster spot, they’ll release him. At most there will be some legal scuffling about the $6 million Willie Mays home run bonus, but it’ll probably settle quietly because who really has the stomach for that fight? This isn’t the Bronx Zoo here. This isn’t one of those fun Babe Ruth controversies. A-Rod is famous, but he’s not some big star who must be deal with anymore. He’s almost done. Hell, he may be totally done.

That stuff aside, however, here’s my favorite part of the Macur column:

The Yankees didn’t have to make Rodriguez the richest baseball player in history, with career earnings now at about $356 million. They didn’t have to agree to pay him more than the player in the No. 2 spot, Derek Jeter. They could have said goodbye to him for good in 2007. And they didn’t.

You cool with that Yankees fans? You cool with the team not signing A-Rod in 2007? Because I’m pretty certain that the 2009 title doesn’t happen without A-Rod almost single-handedly bringing it home for you all that postseason. I’m sure you can construct a reality in which the Yankees, freed of not paying A-Rod, acquired every good player available between 2007 and 2009 in order to win it, but you’re just speculating there. The actual facts on the ground are that Alex Rodriguez led the 2009 Yankees to the World Series title.

People say Yankees fans are spoile. That their team has won so many titles that giving up one wouldn’t even be noticed. But I think that’s baloney for the most part. Yankees fans I know are like any other sports fans: that season, that moment is what matters and that their joy of winning it all in 2009 is not fundamentally different than the Phillies winning one in 2008 or the Giants winning in 2010.

But what say you? Honestly.


A scorching-hot A-Rod take reveals Mike Lupica’s ridiculousness, ignorance and simple cruelty


It’s not exactly groundbreaking stuff to criticize Mike Lupica. He’s been a self-parody for quite a long time and, despite his predisposition to speak for the common fan, he has been nothing approaching a common fan for decades.

He’s an extraordinarily well-paid man who, unless he chose to, has not had to pay for a ticket to a sporting event since the Carter administration. He’s not even like most sports writers in that, again, unless he chooses to, he doesn’t have to cover the day-to-day of sports. He writes a political column one day, writes a children’s book the next, goes on TV, goes on the radio and then swoops down to weigh-in on whatever sports controversy of the day interests him. That’s good work if you can get it. Really, being a sports columnist is a great gig, even if you, perversely, become insulated from actual sports and sports fans as a result. Occupational hazard.

But insulation is one thing. Becoming a cruel, angry person is quite another. And that’s what Mike Lupica has become.

For eveidence of this, one need look no further than the column he wrote today about the A-Rod apology. And not because he’s slamming A-Rod — everyone slams A-Rod — but because, in an effort to roast A-Rod, he says a couple of things that are unhinged at best and a couple of things which are flat out petty and mean.

So this is the way Rodriguez decides to play it, deciding not to hold some kind of press conference before spring training, opting out of the visual of his lawyer sitting next to him and telling him which questions he could answer, and which ones would require him to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights, so as not to face self-incrimination. But then DEA informants — it is exactly what Rodriguez is — rarely want to tell their stories in public.

That’s right: Mike Lupica just insulted a person for cooperating with law enforcement in the prosecution of a drug dealer.

Lupica then excoriates A-Rod for not “taking questions from the New York media and the national media:”

It is one thing to tell his story to a writer or to the new commissioner, Rob Manfred, behind closed doors. Or to do the same thing, again behind closed doors to Hal Steinbrenner of the Yankees and his team president, Randy Levine, and his general manager, Brian Cashman. It would have been quite another thing for Rodriguez to have answered questions out in the open without a lawyer present.

“Fine, you came clean to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Baseball, the owner of the New York Yankees, the president of the New York Yankees and the Yankees’ general manager, but dammit, you didn’t take a question from the guys who work for my tabloid newspaper which has had it in for you for more than a decade! How dare you!”

Then there’s this:

Rodriguez never uses the word steroids, the way he never used that word back in 2009 when he begged everybody for his first second chance. He doesn’t say “my” PED use. Just PED use. Alex Rodriguez remains as cute as his handwriting, and slicker than spit.

Perhaps because, based on just about everything we’ve learned, neither A-Rod nor any of the other clients received steroids from Tony Bosch. They received growth hormone, testosterone and other things, but not steroids. Because Major League Baseball does not suspend players for “steroids,” specifically defined, but for “Performance Enhancing Substances,” which are commonly referred to as PEDs or PESs. Really, Mike, you’re a reporter. You should research this stuff first.

But Lupica isn’t content to stick with ignorance, he thinks cruelty is the way to go:

It will come out in the ESPN piece written by J.R. Moehringer that Alex is in therapy these days. Of course he is. It is about time, and better late than never, for somebody who really could be the buffet at a psychiatrist’s convention.

Mocking a person for seeking mental health is always a good idea. It shows empathy and understanding of phenomena which cause great pain, suffering and adversity in a lot of people’s lives.

Then there’s this:

Bosch, his drug dealer? He goes to jail now for 48 months, three months shy of the maximum sentence he could have gotten for operating the kind of drug ring he was operating.

The star of that ring, still batting cleanup there, still a big name at Biogenesis, was Alex Rodriguez. He doesn’t go to jail. He goes to spring training. Is this a great country or what?

As I noted above, in addition to sports, Mike Lupica writes a lot of columns about political and social issues. I can’t recall him — or, really, anyone who sits on any part of the political spectrum in the United States — ever before lamenting that a drug kingpin was going to jail while a mere drug user was not. Anyone who thinks such a state of affairs to be so backward that it elicits an ironic “what a country!” But hey, who needs any sort of reason when you have your white whale to harpoon?

Really, though, the crack about A-Rod being “the buffet at a psychiatrist’s convention” sticks in my craw. That’s just pathetic, even by Lupica’s usual extraordinarily low standards. Alex Rodriguez is a guy who, it would appear, needs some mental health assistance, and the fact of him getting it elicits an angry “it’s about damn time that basket case got help!”

Who thinks that’s acceptable? Decent? Would he treat any other person on the planet like that? Or is it that, because he has spent so many years opening fire on athletes, he no longer even sees them as people?

I’d never expect a reasoned or measured response from Mike Lupica. But you’d think he’d at least aspire to basic human decency. Apparently he thinks differently.

Andy Pettitte: “I don’t really believe I tried to enhance my performance”

Andy Pettitte Getty

Here’s Andy Pettitte on Michael Kay’s radio show addressing his PED history:

“People are going to say what they want to, believe what they want to. When you say PEDs to me, man, I just can’t even comprehend that with me just because I don’t really believe I tried to enhance my performance on the field,” Pettitte said. “If I would have, I would have told y’all that. Man, my story has been an open book. When it all came out [in the Mitchell report in 2007,] I sat in the press conferences there for hours, I believe . . . I’ve never tried to do anything to cheat to enhance my performance on the field.”

Where are all of the people who have spent the last 24 hours parsing Alex Rodriguez’s apology and why aren’t they parsing this? No one? Anyone? OK then, allow me:

  • Taking PEDs to “get back on the field” is still taking PEDs and is what just about every player who has been busted for PEDs has said. In all cases the player is either (a) not believed; or else (b) the distinction is considered to be meaningless, as enhanced performance is enhanced performance and PEDs are PEDs;
  • Pettitte’s story has not been an open book. During those “hours” he spent talking to the media after the Mitchell Report came out, Pettitte said that he used HGH “two days in 2002.″ He repeated that over and over, in fact. However, when he was put under oath before the House of Representatives a few months later he was confronted with additional evidence of PED use. Specifically, from 2004. Which he admitted. So, no, he wasn’t an “open book.” Or at least any more open than he felt he had to be to get off the hook in a press conference and then to avoid a perjury beef before Congress.

Which, hey, good for Pettitte. I still think he was a damn good pitcher. But let’s not pretend he’s any different than any other PED guy. No, he wisely did not make a federal case out of proclaiming his innocence, so he’s not as bad as Roger Clemens I suppose, but the fact remains that he has only come as clean as he felt he needed to at any given time and only as much as people have wanted him to.

Which is to say, not much at all, because for whatever reason people don’t care about his drug use too terribly much.