Alex Rodrigez Can't Win
Could you learn to love this guy?
Before we get too far gone, I want to set the mood for the hotstove so this post is full of naval gazing. The themes below are going to get real, real relevant to the Mets off-season, if early reports that the Mets are considering mucking up their mojo to bring Rodriguez aboard. What's my opinion? Expect me to flip flop as much as Rudy Giuliani on this one. If Omar harms a hair on our Wright-Reyes baby, I'll be upset. Of course, it should be noted that Bora$ and Arod are not off to a great start. They burnt their bridges with the Spankjobs. Then they gracelessly mar the Red Sox victory celebration. I am half expecting to read an interview where Arod says something like, "You don't say, 'Don't let David Wright beat you.' He's never your concern." Will their arrogance deliver a comeuppance?
So far I am having only random scattered thoughts about this Arod stuff:
*is the Wright Reyes era over already? Sure we had some attitude problem yips last year, but...
*I'm no scientist, but chemistry seems to help teams win World Series.
*do I wanna watch this talented, class-deficient baby for the next 10 years?
*do baseball's (and the Mets) new economics provide such an environment that the Mets WON'T be hamstrung for years by this?
*can the Mets get the Texas Rangers throw in a couple bucks, just cuz?
*This would mean something bad for either Reyes/Wright or Delgado/Castillo.
*The team needs pitching.
* He did want to be a Met at one point, and he needs the marketing money.
* Can we somehow make fun of Steve Phillips more if we sign Arod?
In the New York Times sports supplementary magazine, Play, one of my favorite novelists,Richard Ford, laments what has become of American sports, it has increasingly become something that bears little relation to what happens on the field:
The path ESPN has taken, leading the 24 hour sports news pack astray, grates on Ford too.
Much sportswriting (a job I used to have), much that’s on ESPN, lots that’s on Sporting News Radio and The Best Damn Sports whatever and in The New York Times ...is trying to sharpen the focus on a bunch of focusless stuff that not only doesn’t matter a toot, and could never be proven true or false and therefore isn’t really journalism, but that also doesn’t have anything to do with the game as it’s played. But under the lax operating rules of the 24-hour news cycle, with all those toothy ex-athletes, fresh from their elocution lessons, arriving for auditions, and all the sponsors with E.D. cures plumped for airtime, it becomes easy to substitute one story that doesn’t matter for something else that actually, in terms of the game as played, might: for instance, whether Isiah Thomas either did or didn’t use the “B” word being substituted for a story about Terry Francona’s questionable bullpen strategies in the dwindling days of this year’s Boston pennant drive. And when you start thinking of sports that way, as being about anything that fits — or just anything — instead of being about a game played on a field someplace, that’s when it’s easy to start thinking of other things less discriminantly: of sports as an arm of “the entertainment industry,” of the field or the court or the ice as a “stage,” of sports media as interactive theater, or Grand Guignol, or commedia dell’arte, of Tom Arnold and the supremely awful Dennis Miller as being interesting “sports personalities.”
And I don’t buy the game-killing baloney from the sports media, who are forever telling me that I have a “right” to know all this garbage, and that this story just “won’t go away,” when in fact “they” won’t let it go away. Because I certainly never wanted to know any of it and never would, and would be a better human being for not knowing it, would like the game way more without it and could ascend blissfully upward to level three of my sports hierarchy, to that rarefied dimension where I ponder the game in its essences if they — the media — would just turn all this other stuff loose and just let the game be played.
A-rod's opting out assured us of at least 3 months of media coverage involving Bora$ and company. To get prepare for hotstove, "avenging agent" style, check out Ben McGrath's profile of "The Extortionist" in the New Yorker. It looks like we Met fans will not be able to stay above the fray and avoid the indignity of considering Boras' ridiculous and obnoxiously stated demands. Omar could be perusing Arod's old 2000 binder right now, which compared Rodriguez to Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, and raised the issue of how “handsome” and “charming” he is (will those last two be in the 2007 version?). Will Arod's “IPN,” which, according to Bora$ is short for Iconic magnetism, historic Performance, and Network value, come to mean something else? ("Itsmetsforme Perishes from Nervousbreakdown?")
But, hey Bora$ isn't all bad...
Another, perhaps worthier plan of his, for which he hopes to enlist the support of Bill Gates, is to start a foundation—the paperwork has already been filed—dedicated to doubling the salaries of teachers, through a voucher-based system laden with incentives that would piggyback on existing contracts, like a public-private partnership. He says he doesn’t wish to supplant the teachers’ union; he’d merely bypass it, as he has done with the Players Association and the baseball draft. “I just think a lot of great minds that have gone into the teaching profession are leaving,” he says.
Let's look at this some more, with the help of another NY Times feature, this one gauging the really really rich's reaction to Arod's pitiful demands. If Arod gets what he wants on the "open" market of the MLB, he will still be making a fraction of what many New York hedge fund managers and other moguls make (the top trader made $1.5 BILLION). So even if you yourself happen to be a hyper-wealthy asshole who thinks they are anything other than the contingent outcome of a seriously out of whack system, and are quite pleased with the way capitalism has shaped America, this has to give you pause. Or at least throw the coming Arod blitz into relief. You might say something like this: Arod and all other wealthy folks "have a right to seek what the market will bear."
[But maybe they shouldn't. Maybe the guy who makes $1.5 billion a year could stand the reduction in his incentive to create wealth if he made oh, $1 billion less a year. And maybe as a society we could find a way to channel that money into efforts to keep families from having to sleep in subways or McDonalds, or actually rebuild a city like New Orleans. At least we have to admit that there may be unintended consequences to tacitly endorsing ginormous income disparities: you can't pay a very few all the money and expect no consequences. Sooner or later, it'll effect your neighborhood. There is still a choice we face, though obscured by our desensitization at the hands of athletes and entertainers and the media fairy tales that sustain them, between Hummer gas money/ Lunch tab money and feed a family of four for a year money. Perhaps you'll be convinced if the cycle of massive remuneration ruins your favorite baseball team?]
Let's all watch the Daily Show friday night to see what the tea leaves are saying about a possible Met shake-up. I'll be watching David Wright's heavy eyebrows for signs of arching.