Alex Rodriguez reminds me of my eight year-old son

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I was once told a story about Alex Rodriguez, the specific details of which, unfortunately, I cannot share. It was told to me by a person who was party to the events which took place and had absolutely no reason to lie. I have 100% confidence that the story told to me was true.

The upshot was that Rodriguez engaged in Profoundly Aberrant Behavior X immediately after being told that Profoundly Aberrant Behavior X was something he TOTALLY should not do. No one was harmed, it was nothing that would cause a scandal if it came to light in the media. It was just a matter of “Don’t do that,” followed directly by A-Rod doing that and it made everyone involved want to smack their damn heads.

When asked what in the heck he was thinking, A-Rod simply and honestly said that he thought it was OK to engage in Profoundly Aberrant Behavior X. He was genuinely surprised that what he did created any problems at all. He had no malice, actually. It wasn’t plotted. To the extent he had any agenda it was a half-formed “I’ll show them” kind of thing that your eight year-old son might do If there was part of him that thought he was getting away with something.

I have an eight year-old son who does that kind of stuff a lot.  Sometimes he actually tries to get away with things — truly plots out his behavior — but his deviousness and malevolence are  just not particularly well-formed and his eight year-old brain is just not all that great at thinking more than a step or two ahead yet. It doesn’t mean he’s dumb. It doesn’t mean he’s bad. He just doesn’t operate on a level most people do when strategic thinking is called for.

I sort of feel like that’s where we are with Alex Rodriguez.

I have no idea what, exactly, A-Rod was trying to accomplish by sending Dr. Michael Gross out on that little media tour yesterday. It appears as though it was his effort to fire shots at a Yankees team he perceives to be working against his interests somehow. I can understand the impulse. He probably has a bit of a siege mentality at this point, and for good reason. People are comparing him to mass-murderers for cryin’ out loud, and the league in which he plays is trying to end his career before he wants it to end.

But the facts of his quad injury and rehab are such that trotting out Dr. Gross was gonna get messy no matter what. According to the Yankees, A-Rod did say his quad was hurting. According to the CBA there are right ways and wrong ways to get competing medical opinions. Even if Rodriguez is, on the facts, totally on the side of the angels here — if he can play and wants to and the Yankees are just dithering for P.R./political/Biogenesis reasons, there was no clear path to P.R. victory here for Rodriguez and he probably would have been better off not even sending Dr. Gross on Mike Francesa’s show yesterday. But based on what we can know about A-Rod from a distance, one gets the impression that that sort of thing just doesn’t register with him.

Or maybe I’m way off, I don’t know. Engaging in armchair psychoanalysis like this is even harder than diagnosing a quad strain via an MRI and a phone call.

But I do know this much: Dr. Gross had no idea what he was getting into when he went on his mini media tour yesterday. After saying that he agreed to look at A-Rod’s MRI and that he didn’t take any payment for it, he said this to ESPN New York:

“I did it because I thought it would be fun,” Gross said. “I thought it would be interesting to be on this side of stuff. It was a lot of fun until the last half hour.”

I almost feel sorry for him. But really kids: if Alex Rodriguez asks you to go out and say things on his behalf, by all means, wear a freakin’ flak jacket. They’re firing live bullets out there. And A-Rod probably didn’t plan the operation like Wellington planned Waterloo.

Gaylord Perry, two-time Cy Young winner, dies at 84

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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GAFFNEY, S.C. — Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time Cy Young Award winner Gaylord Perry, a master of the spitball and telling stories about the pitch, died at 84.

Perry died at his home in Gaffney, Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said. He did not provide additional details. A statement from the Perry family said he “passed away peacefully at his home after a short illness.”

The native of Williamston, North Carolina, made history as the first player to win the Cy Young in both leagues, with Cleveland in 1972 after a 24-16 season and with San Diego in 1978 – going 21-6 for his fifth and final 20-win season just after turning 40.

“Before I won my second Cy Young, I thought I was too old – I didn’t think the writers would vote for me,” Perry said in an article on the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. “But they voted on my performance, so I won it.”

“Gaylord Perry was a consistent workhorse and a memorable figure in his Hall of Fame career,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement, adding, “he will be remembered among the most accomplished San Francisco Giants ever … and remained a popular teammate and friend throughout his life.”

Perry was drafted by the San Francisco Giants and spent 10 seasons among legendary teammates like Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who said Thursday that Perry “was a good man, a good ballplayer and my good friend. So long old Pal.”

Juan Marichal remembered Perry as “smart, funny, and kind to everyone in the clubhouse. When he talked, you listened.”

“During our 10 seasons together in the San Francisco Giants rotation, we combined to record 369 complete games, more than any pair of teammates in the Major Leagues,” Marichal said. “I will always remember Gaylord for his love and devotion to the game of baseball, his family, and his farm.”

Perry, who pitched for eight major-league teams from 1962 until 1983, was a five-time All-Star who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991. He had a career record of 314-255, finished with 3,554 strikeouts and used a pitching style where he doctored baseballs or made batters believe he was doctoring them.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame said in a statement that Perry was “one of the greatest pitchers of his generation.” The Texas Rangers, whom Perry played for twice, said in a statement that the pitcher was “a fierce competitor every time he took the ball and more often than not gave the Rangers an opportunity to win the game.”

“The Rangers express their sincere condolences to Gaylord’s family at this difficult time,” the team’s statement said. “This baseball great will be missed.”

Perry’s 1974 autobiography was titled “Me and the Spitter,” and he wrote it in that when he started in 1962 he was the “11th man on an 11-man pitching staff” for the Giants. He needed an edge and learned the spitball from San Francisco teammate Bob Shaw.

Perry said he first threw it in May 1964 against the New York Mets, pitched 10 innings without giving up a run and soon after entered the Giants’ starting rotation.

He also wrote in the book that he chewed slippery elm bark to build up his saliva, and eventually stopped throwing the pitch in 1968 after MLB ruled pitchers could no longer touch their fingers to their mouths before touching the baseball.

According to his book, he looked for other substances, like petroleum jelly, to doctor the baseball. He used various motions and routines to touch different parts of his jersey and body to get hitters thinking he was applying a foreign substance.

Giants teammate Orlando Cepeda said Perry had “a great sense of humor … a great personality and was my baseball brother.”

“In all my years in baseball, I never saw a right-handed hurler have such a presence on the field and in the clubhouse,” Cepeda added.

Seattle Mariners Chairman John Stanton said in a release that he spoke with Perry during his last visit to Seattle, saying Perry was, “delightful and still passionate in his opinions on the game, and especially on pitching.

Perry was ejected from a game just once for doctoring a baseball – when he was with Seattle in August 1982. In his final season with Kansas City, Perry and teammate Leon Roberts tried to hide George Brett’s infamous pine-tar bat in the clubhouse but was stopped by a guard. Perry was ejected for his role in that game, too.

After his career, Perry founded the baseball program at Limestone College in Gaffney and was its coach for the first three years.

Perry is survived by wife Deborah, and three of his four children in Allison, Amy and Beth. Perry’s son Jack had previously died.

Deborah Perry said in a statement to The AP that Gaylord Perry was “an esteemed public figure who inspired millions of fans and was a devoted husband, father, friend and mentor who changed the lives of countless people with his grace, patience and spirit.”

The Hall of Fame’s statement noted that Perry often returned for induction weekend “to be with his friends and fans.”

“We extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Deborah, and the entire Perry family,” Baseball Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark said.