In which a reporter cites herself as evidence that A-Rod is awful

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Back in 2007 Selena Roberts, then of the New York Times, wrote a story portraying Alex Rodriguez as a slum lord. I criticized that pretty thoroughly, not so much for the facts reported, but for what was clearly agenda-driven reporting and overheated rhetoric that was obviously designed to put Rodriguez in the worst possible light based on the thinnest possible evidence.

A couple of years later Roberts wrote a book about A-Rod that took much the same tack. The reporting of facts which, in and of themselves, were difficult to question due to their heavy reliance on hearsay and anonymous sources, but which were nonetheless accompanied by sweeping character judgments that were totally unwarranted and unsupported by those facts, even if true.

One person saw A-Rod leave a light tip? A-Rod is cheap. A few residents complain about poor upkeep on apartments owned by a company in which A-Rod has an interest? A-Rod is a slum lord. A-Rod admits to taking PEDs? A-Rod is the worst cheater baseball has ever known.  I noted my skepticism then as well, arguing that, in her highest profile work, Roberts has been shown to retreat to character assassination whenever she can. And A-Rod is not the highest profile example of her taking that tack.

The upshot? Whatever her merits as a reporter, in no way am I ever going to give Roberts the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her editorial voice, because she has shown to be irresponsible in the extreme when it comes to drawing conclusions from a set of (often limited) facts presented. And in no way should anything I say on the matter of A-Rod serve as evidence bolstering her world view of the guy.

Against that backdrop, Roberts has a post over at Sports on Earth today in which she speculates about Alex Rodriguez’s financial health given his looming suspension, legal fees, etc.  In the post she revisits the slum lord meme:

“Being a landlord — or a slumlord, as Rodriguez has been called in headlines –– isn’t a winnable position for anyone …”

That link? To my own post at HardballTalk in which I specifically call out Roberts for irresponsibly tossing the slum lord accusation around in the past. In other words: she is citing herself as evidence that people are calling out A-Rod as a slum lord in the headlines.

Of course, she also spends much of that article citing examples of A-Rod’s quite savvy financial decisions — following Warren Buffet’s advice, diversifying investments, downsizing his real estate holdings — as evidence that maybe A-Rod is going broke, so it’s pretty clear she’s still pathological when it comes to the subject of Alex Rodriguez. If there are multiple ways to interpret his actions they will be interpreted as either evil or stupid, full stop. It’s the only way she knows how to understand the guy.

Maybe A-Rod is a slum lord. Maybe he is going broke. Maybe he is the worst cheater the sport has ever seen. But don’t take whatever Roberts has to say about it as evidence, because she’s perhaps the most startling example of A-Rod Derangement Syndrome in recorded history.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.