The Sporting News’ Ken Rosenthal dishes more dirt on Alex Rodriguez and the Yankee third baseman’s shitty public image.
Alex Rodriguez scores on Hideki Matsui’s bases-loaded double, and Gary Sheffield follows him down the third-base line, ready to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
“Run him over! Run him over!” Rodriguez yells at Sheffield, imploring him to barrel through Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek.
Sheffield scores, and Varitek turns to Rodriguez. “You would never do it,” Varitek replies sneeringly.
The incident reveals two Rodriguez traits that infuriate opponents ” his irritating rah-rah act and his perceived pretty-boy approach. Then there’s the biggest reason Rodriguez is openly disparaged by his peers: Many view him as a phony whose polished media act is anything but sincere.
When asked about Rodriguez, players often roll their eyes in silent disapproval.
During Rodriguez’s tenure with the Rangers, he occasionally would make like a Little League coach, shouting basic instructions at his younger teammates. “Get a secondary lead!” he would yell to a runner on first. “Get a secondary lead!” After Rodriguez left the team, one prominent American League veteran asked a younger Ranger with a chuckle, “How are you even able to play without A-Rod telling you what to do?”
That same veteran speaks disdainfully about the way Rodriguez and Jeter race each other to the top step of the dugout to congratulate teammates and celebrate important plays. He makes Rodriguez sound like a know-it-all valedictorian, observing sarcastically, “He’s trying to be the perfect player.” And yet, like every other player, he holds Rodriguez’s game in the highest esteem. In comparing Rodriguez and Jeter, the veteran says A-Rod is “10 times better.”
Jerry Narron, Rodriguez’s first manager with the Rangers, would talk baseball with Rodriguez for long periods after games. He recalls feeling sheepish when the two would emerge from the clubhouse at 1 a.m. and Rodriguez’s future wife, Cynthia, would be waiting.
“I didn’t see anything phony about him,” says Narron, now the Reds’ bench coach. “Not one thing.”
Buck Showalter, the Rangers’ current manager, says he would take back Rodriguez in a minute, but given the friction that developed between the two ” and the team’s success after Rodriguez departed ” Showalter probably is being kind.
The Rangers do not view Rodriguez fondly. Third baseman Hank Blalock imitated Rodriguez’s glove slap in mocking fashion in an early spring training baserunning drill. First baseman Mark Teixeira, without naming Rodriguez directly, joined the chorus condemning him for his comments about his 6 a.m. workouts, telling a Dallas-Fort Worth reporter, “Everybody works hard in this game.”
Rangers players nicknamed Rodriguez “The Cooler” last season, a wry observation on how he cools off every team he joins. Even shortstop Michael Young, perhaps the Rangers player with whom Rodriguez was closest, admits the team chemistry improved dramatically after Rodriguez was gone.
“The pieces just didn’t fit. I don’t know why,” Young says. “Once we kind of got the new wave in here, it played to our strengths ” being a super-aggressive team, going out every night trying to win a ballgame.”
To fair, not everyone has something disparaging to say about A-Rod. For instance, we learned in yesterday’s Gawker that A-Rod “is so handsome in person and has beautiful eyes and the most beautiful complexion.”