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Alex Rodriguez derangement syndrome continues to the very end


Alex Rodriguez has always been controversial, but the degree to which his critics have historically gone overboard in slamming him has always outstripped his actual transgressions.

He landed a big contract and was instantly cast as the greediest person alive. He fooled around and blew his marriage up and was cast as an immoral villain. He made some public relations missteps and he was branded as the most clueless person alive. He took performance enhancing drugs and lied about it and he was compared, with no irony, to a literal mass murderer.

It all started with that $250 million deal he signed with the Rangers, though. A-Rod may have broken rules and acted arrogantly and stepped in it a whole bunch, but the day he signed that deal with Texas is when he ceased to be a ballplayer like any other ballplayer in the eyes of the press and became a caricature whose every move was scrutinized more and whose very existence was treated differently than any other player’s. That’s when the narrative about him was forever slanted and after which he’d never get a fair shake.

Even now, on the eve of his final game, it does not end. Just look at this Associated Press story:

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NEW YORK (AP) — By the time Alex Rodriguez collects his last payment as a player from the Yankees next year, he will have received $317,368,852 from New York, according to a review of his contracts by The Associated Press.

Luxury tax caused by his deal totaled an additional $132 million through this year, although the Yankees could have spent more money on other players had A-Rod not been on the roster.

Was it worth it, given that the Yankees have won one World Series title during his years in pinstripes?

Honestly, what other athlete is covered in this way? The only other ballplayer who gets anything close to this treatment is Joe Mauer, but that’s a localized phenomenon for the most part. Where are the national stories about how much the Dodgers, for example, have spent on player salaries without a World Series title to show for it? Where is the cost-benefit analysis of the Albert Pujols deal? The Miguel Cabrera deal? Robinson Cano? Joey Votto? CC Sabathia?

More to the point, where is the stuff about how much revenue the Yankees have taken in during A-Rod’s time in pinstripes? Or are we to believe that Alex Rodriguez is the only actor in the world of baseball who sought to maximize his earnings?

There is a debate to be had whether A-Rod was worth his contracts over the years and I’m sure that, if asked, the Associated Press and the author of this story, Ronald Blum, would defend it by simply saying that it is a fact piece, not an opinion piece. And yes, facts are facts. But the very act of writing and running this story is an editorial choice which reveals a belief that Alex Rodriguez — unlike any other athlete, league, team or executive — must answer for the money he earned. And a strongly implied judgment from the get-go that any answer will come up short.

It’s been that way for 15 years, really.

Cole Hamels done for year after just 1 start for Braves

Cole Hamels triceps injury
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ATLANTA — After making just one start for the Atlanta Braves, Cole Hamels is done for the season.

Hamels reported shortly before the start of a four-game series against the Miami Marlins that he didn’t feel like he could get anything on the ball. The left-hander was scheduled to make his second start Tuesday after struggling throughout the year to overcome shoulder and triceps issues.

The Braves placed Hamels on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Sept. 18,, but that was a mere formality. General manager Alex Anthopoulos already contacted Major League Baseball about replacing Hamels in the team’s postseason player pool.

“Cole knows himself and his body,” Anthopoulos said. “You trust the player at that point when he says he can’t go.”

The Braves began Monday with a three-game lead in the NL East .and primed for their third straight division title.

Even with that success, Atlanta has struggled throughout the shortened 60-game series to put together a consistent rotation beyond Cy Young contender Max Fried and rookie Ian Anderson.

Expected ace Mike Soroka went down with a season-ending injury, former All-Star Mike Foltynewicz was demoted after just one start, and Sean Newcomb also was sent to the alternate training site after getting hammered in his four starts.

The Braves have used 12 starters this season.

Anthopoulos had hoped to land another top starter at the trade deadline but the only deal he was able to make was acquiring journeyman Tommy Milone from the Orioles. He’s on the injured list after getting hammered in three starts for the Braves, giving up 22 hits and 16 runs in just 9 2/3 innings.

“There’s no doubt that our starting pitching has not performed to the level we wanted it to or expected it to,” Anthopoulos said. “I know that each year you never have all parts of your club firing. That’s why depth is so important.”

Hamels, who signed an $18 million, one-year contract last December, reported for spring training with a sore shoulder stemming from an offseason workout.

When camps were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Hamels was able to take a more cautious approach to his rehabilitation. But a triceps issue sidelined again before the delayed start of the season in July.

The Braves hoped Hamels would return in time to provide a boost for the playoffs. He also was scheduled to start the final game of the regular season Sunday, putting him in position to join the postseason rotation behind Fried and Anderson.

Now, Hamels is done for the year, his Braves’ career possibly ending after he made that one appearance last week in Baltimore. He went 3 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on three hits, with two strikeouts and one walk in a loss to the Orioles.

Hamels reported no problems immediately after his start, but he didn’t feel right after a bullpen session a couple of days ago.

“You’re not going to try to talk the player into it,” Anthopoulos said. “When he says he isn’t right, that’s all we need to hear.”

Atlanta recalled right-hander Bryse Wilson to replace Hamels on the 28-man roster. The Braves did not immediately name a starter for Tuesday’s game.

With Hamels out, the Braves will apparently go with Fried (7-0, 1.96), Anderson (3-1, 2.36) and Kyle Wright (2-4, 5.74) as their top three postseason starters.

Hamels is a four-time All-Star with a career record of 163-122. He starred on Philadelphia’s World Series-winning team in 2008 and also pitched for Texas and the Chicago Cubs.

Last season, Hamels went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 27 starts for the Cubs.