Tag Archives: Alex Rodriguez

Yankees Never Deserved A-Rod

When Alex Rodriguez was in front of the media on a Sunday morning, the world took notice.  Hero or villain; love him or hate him – the world wanted to see what A-Rod’s announcement was about.  In the end of it all, viewers came away with an “awkward goodbye” from Alex.  The whole situation had the feeling of an “ultimatum” instead of an “agreement.”   Seriously though, if a player was able to stand upright and be only four home-runs short of the seven-hundred mark, he shouldn’t be retiring.  A lot of the language was cryptic from A-Rod and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, and it was obvious. . .

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New York radio and social media as a whole were taking their own stabs at the situation.  The end of a career, although some may say tainted – Alex Rodriguez was as polarizing as a sports super star could ever be.   A good looking, talented guy, getting paid ridiculous amounts of dollars to play baseball – the target has been on his back since 2000.  That was when he decided to chase the money and sign with the lowly Texas Rangers franchise because they signed him to a ten year, two-hundred and two million dollar contract.  Hey, lowly or not, that’s a ridiculous amount of paper.

As Alex Rodriguez continued to hammer his numbers into the record books, the hatred for him grew.  People saw him as a player who could hamstring an organization and a player who would put up gaudy numbers in a losing career.

When the Yankees traded for Alex and his price-tag, he saw it as a road to redemption.  He could continue to put up numbers with a franchise thats known for it’s “Championship or bust” mantra.  Alex Rodriguez, who already netted two Gold Glove awards while in Texas was bound to go down in history as the greatest short stop of all-time, but to satisfy his (at the time) good friend Derek Jeter, Alex took up the task of learning to play third base, although he was clearly the better short stop of the two. . . Never the less, A-Rod picked up the technique to play the “hot corner” for the betterment of the organization and to satisfy the hands that were already at the table. . .

Again A-Rod continued to pound out numbers at a Hall of Fame rate.  He gave them an MVP season in 2007, in which he put up his best numbers and was signed to another lucrative ten year contract in this time.

In 2009, rumors started circulating about Alex not being a “clean” player – but New Yorkers quickly stopped dissecting those rumors because they won the World Series in 2009.  Not only did they win the World Series, they won it mostly because of Alex Rodriguez.  Alex’s on-base-percentage was .500, slugging percentage was .808 (those two stats combined gave him a ridiculous OPS of 1.308, 19 hits, 18 rbis and six homeruns. . . For a guy who was infamously known for “disappearing” in the playoffs, he gave the Yankees one of the best playoff performances of all time in 2009.

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In 2011, the City That Never Sleeps, started getting colder towards A-Rod.  His home run totals were decreasing, bat speed had slowed down and whenever things went wrong for the Bronx Bombers it was always the fault of Rodriguez.  The Yankees built a team of “Super-Men” but it seemingly would always fall on A-Rod.

Sure, the years followed with his admittance of using performance enhancing drugs and his one year suspension.  The Yankees organization and many of it’s fans were out-casting Rodriguez.  Corny people would say “its not the Yankee way,” “he’s a cheater” or even degrade his character with profanities – this was odd.  Odd because this is a fan base that still favors admitted P.E.D user Andy Petitte, and still holds a torch up high for the beer chugging womanizer that was Babe Ruth and even the alcoholic, narcissist Mickey Mantle (who wasn’t even liked by his own son).

Fans are insane.  We forget our own flaws while judging the flaws of others.  But fans are so insane that they NEVER forget the GOOD that a player has done for his or her franchise.  Except this time.  Yankees fans found it more to their liking to gang-up on a player who was already hated by the masses.  Keep in mind, he only added to that hatred when he joined your team (the MOST hated franchise in baseball – next to Philadelphia), gave up playing short stop and all the accolades that would’ve come with finishing his career at that position, gave you his greatest season in 2007 and a remarkable run in 2009 which gave you the last post season success the franchise has seen.

Alex could’ve put these numbers up and been loved anywhere else.  Bonds was and is still adored in San Francisco and even Ryan Braun (who was truly the biggest piece of scum when it comes to P.E.D scandals) still gets an applause when he bats for the Brewers.

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Hopefully someone will take on Rodriguez just long enough so that he can get his home-run total to 700.   That would mean the world to Alex – and oddly enough it would mean just the same to feel appreciated in New York.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

T.O.C.T.M – August ’16

The Only Column That Matters: August 2016. . .

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Suicide Squad was released into theaters this week and critics killed it.  My favorite had to be Mick Laselle of the San Francisco Chronicle who said: “it’s like watching other people play video games — except they’re not really playing them, and there’s not much suspense about who will win. And you can’t escape. And the music is terrible. And you barely know what’s going on. And you’re stuck there for two hours.”  Those are harsh words from somebody named Mick who’s last name isn’t Mantle, or Mouse – regardless this just shows how DC Comics can’t manipulate a single decent story line to the big screen.  They crapped their pants with “Batman vs Superman” and we’re depending on a bunch of B-list characters from the comic universe (and the Joker) to bring life to their movie franchise.  Meanwhile, Marvel releases “Ant Man” where Paul Rudd is the super hero and people loved it.  Something just isn’t right here.

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The Olympics are underway and about 5% of the American population is really intrigued.  Let’s be honest, it’s all about America’s favorite pot-head Mike Phelps and it’s all about us cheating in basketball.  And while most athletes have complained about the conditions in Rio, the U.S.A Men’s Basketball team is living it up on a docked cruise ship.  I mean, it’s smart and one can’t really blame them but one can also argue that it’s a bit much.  If it wasn’t enough that our basketball teams are mega stars with millions of dollars – they further isolated themselves from the bunch by “flossing” on a cruise ship.  Although, after the opening ceremonies the players on the team “accidentally” found themselves in a local brothel so they weren’t totally isolated themselves from the people of Brazil. . .

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The NFL is on it’s pre-season kick right now and everyone with an opinion (including myself) thinks they can predict everything that will happen in the upcoming season.  One hot topic has been the budding rivalry between N.Y. Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr and Washington Redskins corner back Josh Norman.  The two were infamously caught up in a constant slap battle which turned into a head-butting clinic last season and they will face each other twice during this season.  So who has the edge?  Easily, Odell.  Beckham is just a better athlete while Norman doesn’t have the loosest hips as a defensive back; and also reports from Redskins camps is that Norman is getting beat deep a lot.  History has also shown that when the Redskins pay big bucks for someone, they usually forget how to play the game of football.

Can anybody explain to me why DJ Khaled is so famous?   I just saw this guy on a commercial for f’n soy milk.  As one who drinks soy milk, I found it offensive that I drink the same thing as this beast of a human being.  People tell me he’s a “great follow on snapchat.”  First off, I don’t have and never will have a snapchat account and how does one attain “greatness” in snapchattery?  He just released a new album “Major Keys” which is no doubt another album which finds Khaled playing “Fantasy Hip Hop” by putting various artists together on multiple tracks.  Eh, that’s actually not a bad thing, and I actually respect the fact that it’s his album and he can get away with making compilations – it’s a hustle to be respected, but not a hustle to sponsor soy milk.

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On Sunday, Alex Rodriguez announced his retirement.  Well, sorta.  As a huge, huge fan of A-Rod, I was going to write a very romantic piece about the greatest player I’ve seen in recent history but then after re-analyzing what was said on Sunday – I paused.  The Yankees are conditionally releasing him, paying him the full amount of his contract BUT he is staying on as an advisor throughout that contract.  Also, general manager Brian Cashman was very shady in answering the question of “would you let A-Rod play anywhere else?”  The whole situation looks questionable and it’s hard to believe that Rodriguez would just stop chasing 700 home runs at this point.  Many folks will say “he’s a cheater” or “his numbers are tainted” and I truly believe those people should take heed to the Jay-Z line “You should be happy to be in my presence.”

Anyhow, that’s the mess I’m talking for this month in The Only Column That Matters.  Check out the podcast TheOnlyShowThatMatters hosted by myself and Nick Celio on the NGSCRadio Network and follow our page on Facebook

 

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

NY Sports Today, Pt. 4: The MLB

New York Mets:

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The Metropolitans find themselves in an unfamiliar space.  They – not the Yankees – are the best team in New York, and their are lofty expectations that come with that claim.   Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated has called the New York Mets’ pitching rotation to be “the best in baseball.”  When your biggest problem is NOT knowing who your “number one” pitcher is – and all of them have “the goods” – your problems are pretty awesome.  Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey and Jacob DeGrom lead the charge with veteran Bartolo Colon and (a-hopefully-ready by mid-season) Zack Wheeler rounding out a possible six man rotation.  The Mets pitching staff is their lifeline and it should be enough to carry them into the playoffs.  David Wright’s spine didn’t agree with him last year and was limited to less than forty games during the regular season, but looked pretty good in the post-season and in spring training this year.  If right can give them consistent production at the third base spot, the Mets will have that corner of the infield in good hands. It showed on one-too-many occasions last year, how much his glove was missed at the “hot corner.”  The Mets re-signed Yoenis Cespedes to a big deal, and they better hope this isn’t a case of a “sucker them in deal.”  Cespedes’ bat was a much needed addition to the Mets’ offense and he helped lead the charge into the playoffs from the Summer and on.  Mets fans are weary of the showboat though (if anybody caught his opening day lackluster drop in left field, that should be enough reason to justify that worry.)  Curtis Granderson is a fan favorite with one of the most vicious swings in baseball.  His stat line is confusing though – he strikes out a lot, but it seems when he’s not striking out, he’s getting on base or driving in a run.  The Mets have a century to go before ever being mentioned in the same breath with the New York Yankees, but this is their moment and it’s now or never for the blue and orange boys out of Queens.

 

New York Yankees:

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Some will say that last year proved one can never count the New York Yankees out, the others will say – they got lucky.  You’re kind of right if you’re on either side of the argument.  The Yankees are the most recognizable sports franchise in America and for good reason.  The legacy alone, strikes fear into competition and if “hate” truly concealed “jealousy” – the Yankees are swimming among weaker human emotions as they hold their numerous banners high in the greatest city in the world – New York. But last year – was pretty lucky if we’re being honest.  The resurgence of a forgotten Mark Texiera and a public relations nightmare in Alex Rodriguez, ended up being the most important pieces to this line up.  Texiera had an on-base-percentage of .357, a slugging percentage of .548 and 100 hits last season.  A-Rod blasted 33 homers with 131 RBI, a year after being suspended for PED use.  The Yankees know they’d be hard pressed depending on their veterans for the same kind of production again so they signed former Chicago Cub, Starlin Castro.  The Yankees will most likely try to find a places for their big young bats  Greg Bird and Aaron Judge.  Both of these kids display some raw power at the plate and if the vets struggle, it won’t take long for these kids to be put into place.  The Yankees starting pitching is a bit nerve racking and inconsistent, which is why the Yankees were thrilled that they had guys for the 7th, 8th and 9th innings to close games in Andrew  Miller, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman – but a domestic incident resulted in a 30 game suspension for Chapman, which resulted in Miller getting the closer spot – and now Miller is pitching through a wrist injury to start the season.  The Yankees had a nice start to the season last year and burned out towards the end.  The same may happen again – and that’s thinking positively.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

A-Rod: Heel Turned Face

In the wrestling world, if you’re a good guy – you’re a face, and if you’re a bad guy – you’re a heel.  A lot of politics goes into who gets a push as a face or a heel and its ultimately determined by the fans reactions to the wrestlers.

When the WWE started to showcase Stone Cold Steve Austin,  he was a typical heel – bald head, all black attire,  never smiled and played dirty.  He was first greeted by boos from the crowd and then something happened – the fans loved him.  The swearing, beer drinking loner who opposed all authority became the guy everyone rooted for.  Even Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, was a cocky, arrogant heel who the crowd hated. . . then eventually they loved to hate. . . and ultimately ended up loving.

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It seems that the WWE broke America’s code.  The code is:  if you’re told to hate something too much, you’ll eventually just love it.

Want proof?

How many times have you watched Al Pacino in Scarface and hoped by some miracle the movie has an alternate ending which keeps the cocaine fueled drug lord alive?   For those that watched Gangs of New York -was there a character more entertaining than  Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of the psychotic, Bill the Butcher?  Tyler Durden ran mayhem in every major city in America, in the movie Fight Club – and yet you left the theatre thinking “he was probably the coolest guy ever. ” Pick a Joker – Jack Nicholson, the late Heath Ledger – hey even Caesar Romero – all portrayed what was supposed to be bad – but it was portrayed so well, we loved it.

In the case of Alex Rodriguez, he made himself the bad guy.  Between the performance enhancing drugs, the lying and his “beef” with the golden-boy of the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter (the ultimate face) –  Alex Rodriguez dug himself into a place that is rarely visited by one who at one time was considered to be a great in the game of baseball.    The Biogenesis Scandal didn’t help his efforts in gaining any supporters either.  He was suspended the entire 2014 season and since his suspension he’s been at war with the New York Yankees.

The Yankees tried to get out of his lucrative contract (including milestone bonuses) and made efforts publicly of not mentioning his name – and if his name was forced upon the Yankees organization, they would speak about him in obvious disgust.

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Think about this. . .

Major League Baseball legitimately screwed up, when they couldn’t nail Barry Bonds for his use of performance enhancing drugs.  While under speculation, Bonds was spitting in the MLB’s face by destroying it’s precious home run record.   Bonds was “the one” Major League Baseball wanted, they couldn’t get him – so they had to make an example out of A-Rod.   The difference between Bonds and A-Rod was that Bonds really deep down could care less what people thought of him while Alex has always been about his public perception.  Major League Baseball was assisted by one of the most powerful franchise in professional sports, the New York Yankees, in trying to disgrace the name and reputation of Alex Rodriguez.  They made sure newspapers graced their back and front pages with expressions like “A-Fraud” or “A-Roid” while reaching deep, seeking people who would do interviews with the sole purpose of “selling him out.”

People hated him already.   This would surely build on that hatred and hopefully keep Alex Rodriguez away from the game of baseball for good.  Right? . . . .

Alex had other plans.

Alex Rodriguez decided to “compound” his heel-like ways and formed a tag-team with Barry Bonds.   Bonds worked as A-Rod’s hitting coach in the off-season, helping Rodriguez get his form back.  This is like the Emperor in Star Wars taking Darth Vader under his wing.

A funny thing happened to the most hated man in baseball though. . . in spring training, he was greeted with applause and cheers.  People yelling “Go Alex” while he was doing interviews.  People got tired of the “piling on.”  Even going into the season, when Alex Rodriguez stepped to the plate, fans cheered – when he hit his first homerun of the year, they applauded – even the next morning – sports radio and television personalities seemed to smile in re-calling the action.

Why?

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Well, simply put – Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees tried so hard to vilify Alex Rodriguez that they made him a sympathetic character.  They somehow made him the underdog people could root for, he became the loner riding against authority and he became for the first time in his career – relatable.

The New York Yankees pulled the ultimate Vince McMahon move. They put Alex  in a spot that looks impossible to get out of unscathed, so of course, us as humans we don’t want to see him get pummeled to a pulp, or kicked while he’s down – we’d rather see him claw his way back up and earn some respect.

If Major League Baseball would’ve went on with their business, without the smear campaign, there would be no pity for Alex.  Instead, this all backfired.  Sure Alex is far removed from the monster of a player he once was and nobody is certain how this will all turn out in the end, but one thing is for sure – A-Rod v.s. the Yanks, will be the only rivalry worth watching for baseball fans in New York this season. . .

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio