Just Saying, Is All… | The Real Problem with Alex Rodriguez

July 23, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

Pity the hero who doesn’t fit the profile.

Alex Rodriguez is easy to praise. He’s also, unfortunately, hard to like. In 16 big league seasons, the Yankees slugger has posted sensational stats between the lines—which would be better news if stats were all that counted with the folks in the cheap seats.

A paragon is loved because he defines the lovable.

A pariah, on the other hand, is loathed because he defies the loathers.

It’s not that A-Rod’s critics lack empirical ammunition. Winners are as winners do, and even Bill James would concede that created runs are no substitute for World Series rings. But the prevailing disdain for Rodriguez is far less about October production than it is about year-round performance. In a league where leading men are supposed to be strong silent types, there’s just no place for a socially awkward pretty boy. 

Actions speak louder than words.

Style shines brighter than substance.

If A-Rod really wanted to be embraced, he should have retired before the advent of TMZ.com.

Baseball fans have always swooned for inhuman idols. Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle—they were both larger and smaller than life, knowable only through the narrow lens of a friendly press corps. The catch, of course, is that there’s nowhere to hide in this age of Tabloid Tyranny. Image consultants will argue that a simple rebranding can cure what’s ailing Alex. I’d counter that we’ve already seen too much flesh to forget the mortal beneath the makeover.

It’s bad to be guarded.

It’s worse to be honest.

A-Rod gets faulted for manipulative aloofness, but his only unforgivable sin was showing the world his true colors.

You can’t will your way to popularity. You’re either with it or you aren’t; you’ve either got it or you don’t. The real problem with Alex Rodriguez is that he is what he is, and not what we want him to be. Modern media has made cool a nonnegotiable commodity. What that means for modern misfits is a question Brian Cashman and Kate Hudson will have to answer on their own.

Bruce Springsteen never had much trouble pleasing his audience, but he still knows a thing or two about impossible expectations:

She said, “Now don’t try for a home run, baby
If you can get the job done with a hit”
Remember, “A quitter never wins and a winner never quits”
“The sun don’t shine on a sleepin’ dog’s ass”
And all the rest of that stuff
But for you my best was never good enough

Which would be a fitting epitaph for A-Rod’s Cooperstown plaque. 

Because public approval is always a matter of personal taste, and any star who appeals to the masses on the merits of mere talent is sure to wind up only just saying, is all…

readers comments
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