Tuesday, July 23, 2013

0 comments Wallace Matthews Tells Us Alex Rodriguez is Not Lou Gehrig; Also Reminds Us that Fire is Hot

I spend more time than I would like writing about columns that eviscerate Alex Rodriguez and it feels like I am defending him, which isn't my intention at all. Of course now it looks like A-Rod is going to get hit hard by MLB for his affiliation with Biogenesis, so who the hell would want to defend him for anything? I figured I would post this even though A-Rod's fight to re-join the Yankees has been undermined by his own self. This is what I get for sitting on column and not writing on it until a couple of days ago. I think it shows the topic of A-Rod seems to bring a lot of columnists' blood to it's boiling point and gibberish tends to get written due to this. Today, Wallace Matthews tells us that A-Rod is not Lou Gehrig and then manages to criticize A-Rod for trying to come back from a hip injury to help the Yankees win games. It's a nice balance Wallace shows. He criticizes A-Rod for being overpaid, but also criticizes A-Rod for daring to rehab from his injury and re-join the Yankees team. Of course if A-Rod didn't play for the Yankees anymore then who would Wallace and the rest of the New York sports media pick on?

This column is called "New York Yankees won't get Independence from Alex Rodriguez" and it was written on July 4. Get it? It was written on Independence Day and that's exactly what the Yankees won't be getting from Alex Rodriguez. This is journalism, people. Step back if you can't handle the awesomeness that Wallace Matthews is putting right in your face. 

On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig, a 35-year-old man dying of an insidious disease that would one day bear his name, stood before a bank of microphones set up at home plate at the old Yankee Stadium and famously proclaimed himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

On the same day 74 years later, in the pages of a newspaper, Alex Rodriguez, a 38-year-old man in the prime of health and with another $114 million guaranteed him, portrayed himself as a beleaguered victim of circumstances heroically determined to fight on despite what he believes to be the unwarranted scorn of his employers and many of his team's fans.

A-Rod is in the prime of his health except for the injuries that have prevented him from playing at all during the 2013 season. Point taken though. A-Rod isn't Lou Gehrig. In fact, few people are Lou Gehrig so this is kind of a dumb way to start off a column. A-Rod deserves whatever MLB throws at him, but he wasn't Lou Gehrig long before he was tied to Biogenesis.

There's a reason Gehrig was known as The Iron Horse, and many reasons A-Rod is known by several other nicknames, at least one of which also has the word "horse" in it.

Actually Wallace, the word "centaur" does not have "horse" in it, but I think A-Rod is the only one that considers himself a centaur anyway. But yes, no one likes A-Rod and how dare he attempt to re-join the Yankees. He needs to stay away from ever playing baseball again so Wallace can keep talking about how useless and overpaid he is. If A-Rod plays well then he might start to look even somewhat worth the money he is getting paid and Wallace Matthews can't have that. So Wallace is probably thrilled that A-Rod is going to be suspended hard by MLB.

"My mom's had a hard time with all of this the last nine months, watching everything," Rodriguez told USA Today's Bob Nightengale. "My god, I hate to see her go through this. And my daughters are sitting there and watching their dad. I want to make them proud. I want to make my mom proud."

A couple of points here:

1. A-Rod is talking about what he has caused his family members to go through and how he wants to get back on the field and make them proud. He's not feeling bad for himself, but simply noting that he has let his family down and doesn't want to do that anymore.

2. The fact A-Rod's family members are going through something is A-Rod's fault. Outside of the injuries he has gone through, nearly every other issue has been A-Rod's fault or partly been his doing. So I don't feel bad for him.

3. A-Rod is a dipshit, but I have a hard time eviscerating him for wanting to get healthy and produce on the field for the Yankees. Maybe I give him too much benefit of the doubt. He's an ass and he is a cheater, but he really seems like he wants to play baseball again. It doesn't excuse his cheating obviously.

Never mind that whatever Alex Rodriguez's mother has been "going through" over the past nine months, or even nine years, is most likely because of the actions of her son,

I don't think at any point in that article A-Rod tried to make it seem like he wasn't the cause of what they were "going through." In fact, here are some quotes from A-Rod in this very USA Today column that Wallace Matthews is referring to and these are quotes Wallace intentionally leaves out because it doesn't fit the agenda he has:

"I'm the first one to say last year that I stunk,'' Rodriguez says. "It was a bloodbath. I'm not running away from that.

"It's the (expletive) pink elephant in the room, I know I'm better than that.''

Yeah, "the pink elephant." Only A-Rod would say "pink elephant" instead of just "elephant." 

"I've got to be honest with myself,'' Rodriguez says, "I haven't played well for a long time. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I'm going to go out and hit 50 home runs, or any of that craziness. But I can be someone who can have a big impact in the middle of our lineup.

"Just to have the opportunity to put on the pinstripes, and compete again at Yankee Stadium, and helping my team win, it's a day that I've been dreaming about a long time now.

What an asshole, right? A-Rod didn't say much about Biogenesis on advice of his attorney, but he clearly seems to be taking responsibility for his play on the field. He won't take responsibility for Biogenesis (not yet), but it seems somewhat clear to me he knows that A-Rod isn't looking to cash a paycheck, blame others, then go home. He wants to play again, or at least have the chance to strike out and get booed again.

Of course Wallace also leaves out how Derek Jeter defended A-Rod, but this type of thing is only used to show what a great guy Jeter is as opposed to being used for the media to look in the mirror occasionally about their treatment of A-Rod.

"Why would he be a distraction?'' Jeter told reporters. "You guys (in the media) may be a distraction to him if you ask him questions, but I've never seen how someone can be a distraction to a team, you know what I mean? Because we don't have to deal with it.

"As far as (reporters) being a distraction to him, I'm sure he probably gets tired of answering questions. There's no way he can be a distraction to us."

For Yankees fans, the bottom line is this: On July 4, 2013, Alex Rodriguez made it clear that there will be no Independence Day for them, not from him, anyway.

And herein lies my issue with Wallace Matthews writing this column. Wallace wants to rip A-Rod for being overpaid and wants to rip him for daring to work to come back from his injury so he can re-join the Yankees team. The bottom line is Wallace doesn't want A-Rod to come back because he wants to keep calling A-Rod useless. So Wallace decides to start ripping A-Rod for even daring to not give up on the Yankees.

So if A-Rod came out and stated he was just quitting baseball, would Wallace Matthews applaud this decision? Obviously he wants the Yankees to be rid of A-Rod, so does Wallace think it is a noble endeavor for A-Rod to just quit now and not try to play for the Yankees this season? Something tells me if A-Rod quit on the Yankees Wallace would rip him for that. It's a no-win situation that A-Rod has put himself in with the New York media. No matter what he does, they will criticize him. What's so funny is that is it incredibly easy to criticize A-Rod, but still the New York media has to resort to accusing him of insurance fraud and mocking his attempts to play out the remaining years of his contract. It's over the top at times.

In other words, perish those thoughts of early retirement or demanding a trade or being willing to negotiate a payout of the five years remaining on his contract.

Because quitting on the Yankees or demanding a trade is a much more team-oriented way of Alex Rodriguez ending his career. Can you imagine how Wallace Matthews would tear into A-Rod if he demanded a trade or just retired? Wallace would destroy A-Rod for daring to demand a trade after all the money the Yankees gave him and how patient they were with his struggles. Wallace would call A-Rod a "quitter" if he just retired now. There's no doubt in my mind this is what would happen. So for Wallace to suggest A-Rod take early retirement or demand a trade is ridiculous because if A-Rod did either of these things we would still get a shitty column saying that A-Rod is not Lou Gehrig.

Alex Rodriguez sounds as if he's determined to remain a Yankee until the bitter end.

Dedication and the unwillingness to give up in the face of increased scrutiny and adversity. These are not characteristics you want in a professional athlete.

The objectionable part is that A-Rod is trying to portray himself as fighting the good fight, a noble man attempting to triumph over an army of haters.

What is objectionable to me is that Wallace Matthews doesn't realize this statement is half-true. I don't think A-Rod is fighting the good fight, but ignoring the Biogenesis scandal, he really is attempting to triumph over an army of haters. The army of haters are the writers like Wallace Matthews who will criticize A-Rod no matter what decision he makes. If A-Rod quits, he gets called a quitter, if A-Rod fights back from an injury, he's told he isn't wanted.

Just about every bit of the imagined "adversity" Alex Rodriguez thinks he is confronting is of his own making.

To an extent this is true. I'm not sure the injury he suffered to his hip was of his own making, but I guess that injury is sort of his fault for being a human.

Also, Wallace is making words up that A-Rod spoke now. Go search the Bob Nightengale interview with A-Rod. Here's the link. I'll wait. Do a search for the word "adversity." You won't find it because at no point did A-Rod use that word to describe what he is facing. So I'm not sure where Wallace's "adversity" reference comes from since A-Rod never actually used this word. I would expect nothing less from Wallace though. He has plenty of ammo to criticize A-Rod, yet he insists on stretching the truth even the tiniest bit to make A-Rod seem worse than he is. So Wallace has used a word in parenthesis quoting A-Rod that A-Rod didn't ever say.

He is the one who chose to live a high-profile lifestyle, and then complained about all the media attention it draws, sort of like the kid who kills his own parents and then begs for leniency on the grounds he is an orphan.

Except A-Rod is worse than a murderer. He's like a murderer of murderers except that he is a murderer of murderers that only murders puppies, kittens, children and rare pandas when he isn't murdering murderers.

He is the one who chose to play in high-stake, possibly illegal, poker games -- and then to continue playing in them after MLB and the Yankees ordered him not to.

Michael Jordan played high-stake poker games all the time. I guess because he is Michael Jordan then that is no big deal. Charles Barkley and Charles Oakley played in these games as well. My point is that A-Rod isn't the first athlete to pay in high-stake poker games.

He is the one who chose to put part of the blame for his steroid abuse on his cousin Yuri Sucart -- and then to continue to employ him as a go-fer after the Yankees ordered him not to.

He is the one who chose to have his hip surgeon, Dr. Bryan Kelly, speak to a reporter and lay out a preemptive denial that his hip problems were caused by steroid abuse after his team had ordered the doctor to keep all information about A-Rod's medical condition confidential.

I don't think anyone will argue A-Rod has handled himself well throughout his career. This still doesn't explain why A-Rod should be criticized for working hard to re-join the Yankees this year. Also, the Yankees do a lot of "ordering" don't they? Maybe the team should order itself to develop some better organizational minor league depth so when injuries occur they aren't struggling to find backups.

He is the one who chose to give an interview to a national magazine ripping Derek Jeter.

That's really what this is about. Writers like Wallace Matthews won't ever forgive A-Rod for ripping Derek Jeter. All coverage of A-Rod will remain negative for time immemorial due to his previous comments about Derek Jeter.

He is the one who, while in the midst of a horrendous October slump in the middle of a series his team was about to get swept out of, chose to proposition a woman in the field-level seats at Yankee Stadium, in full view of teammates, fans and team officials.

Again, with so many things that A-Rod has done wrong why pick one criticism that had no impact on his performance on the field and is irrelevant to his return from injury?

But taken together, they paint a picture of a man living a life of singular privilege, without boundaries or respect for any authority other than his own.

It's almost like someone who will make $353 million in his career is used to playing by his own rules. Imagine that. How unforeseen.

But to live that life of privilege and wealth and try to portray it as the equivalent of working on a chain gang? That is an insult and an affront.

I'm assuming everyone who reads this blog can read English and is literate, so go read that Bob Nightengale interview with A-Rod and see if at any point you feel like he is portraying himself as working on a chain gang. He says the typical A-Rod denial of the Biogenesis accusations, but mostly tries to show resolve to bounce back from his injuries and contribute to the Yankees this season. The statements he makes about doubters and people who don't like him is sort of true. Wallace Matthews' column is an example of this. He is criticizing A-Rod for showing resolve and trying to live up to his massive contract. Naturally, Wallace wants to portray A-Rod in a false light simply because Wallace is one of the doubters and will criticize A-Rod no matter what he does. It's so easy to criticize A-Rod, but you can always tell which writers truly don't like him by how they will over-criticize him and try to twist words A-Rod says to paint them in a negative light.

But for more than 15 years now, Alex Rodriguez has lived in that upper-echelon and enjoyed its incredible perks.

Now, he tries to make you believe that his life is no different from that of a Roman gladiator who has just been given the thumbs-down by the bloodthirsty Colosseum crowd. He portrays it as the fight of his life.

A-Rod may get suspended for 100 games due to the Biogenesis situation and he is a 38 year old man who just had serious hip surgery. It is a fight for his career right now.

On this day 74 years ago, Lou Gehrig never knew the joy of having children, the security of earning even $100,000 in a year or the satisfaction of seeing 40 candles on his birthday, and called himself lucky.

The prospect of immediate death changes a person's perspective on the world. Anyone who knows someone who has experienced the prospect of immediate death knows this is true. So this isn't exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. Lou Gehrig was a great guy and A-Rod isn't. If we compared Derek Jeter to Mother Teresa then Jeter would come off looking pretty bad too.

If he really wants to know why more people aren't on his side, the answer is right there, etched in stone in his own words, thoughts and deeds.

While this is true, would quitting his rehab from the hip injury, demanding a trade or simply retiring now make him a better person in terms of his thoughts and deeds? Of course not. I don't understand why Wallace thinks quitting or demanding a trade would suddenly make A-Rod a better person. Wallace doesn't want A-Rod back on the Yankees team and would criticize A-Rod for quitting on the Yankees. The only thing A-Rod could do to please Matthews is up and die. At least then A-Rod could give an inspirational speech and the parallel to Lou Gehrig would sound more reasonable.