The most expensive piñata in history was torn open months ago, but the blindfolded kids in the New York Yankees clubhouse are still taking shots at it.
“He ought to get his eyes checked,” says one Yankees teammate of Alex Rodriguez — you know, the guy whose eyes have helped him to 463 career home runs at the age of 31 — “I don’t think he’s seeing the ball.”
“I honestly think,” offers another anonymous pinstriper, “he might be afraid of the ball.”
That’s right — going blind and stepping in the bucket like a 10-year-old kid on a suburban sandlot — that’s their description of a two-time MVP with four home run titles, eight silver sluggers, and a lifetime average of .305.
But even those cowardly attacks on the big-money poster-boy pinup of the Yankees lineup pale in comparison to some of the most asinine words in the recorded annals of human hypocrisy, courtesy of Sports Illustrated:
“Alex doesn’t know who he is,” says the guy who found his own identity at the bottom of a bottle of HGH.
A-Rod is filled with “false confidence” alleges this one-time MVP, whose own confidence was delivered in regularly scheduled doses via pharmaceutical syringes.
And the coup de grace? “It’s time to stop coddling him.” This from the same guy — the former A’s player who stole $120 million from the Yankees as test-tube free agent, and then spent an entire season being coddled by apologist teammates while hesuffered through his post-steroid blues.
The mid-summer struggles of Alex Rodriguez have been well-chronicled, from his inexplicable slump at the plate to his sudden inability to throw from point A to point B in the field. The endless abuse heaped upon Rodriguez came from Yankees fans, Yankees haters and Yankees players alike; and perhaps some of the criticism is deserved. But when the most lethal verbal shots come from a guy like Jason Giambi, who all but admitting his steroid guilt in 2004, while issuing a public apology for the same, then things have gone too far.
Even when Giambi cheated his way to the MVP award in 2000, he was never half the ballplayer that Rodriguez was then and is today. Yet somehow, in the span of two seasons, he has emerged from the shadow of steroid shame into a Yankees team leader who can call out one of his superior teammates?
How? And why?
Has Giambi led the Yankees to any World Series championships that we’re not aware of? No.
Has he been any more productive in pinstripes than Rodriguez has in twice the number of seasons in the Bronx? No.
Yet somehow the fans in New York, along with the Judases in the clubhouse, have chosen to hug Captain Dynobol while deciding to choke the life out of Rodriguez.
Love A-Rod or hate him (and there’s not much middle ground here), honest fans will admit he’s gotten a raw deal in New York. He’s deeply religious, doesn’t drink and drive, doesn’t beat his wife,
doesn’t taunt fans and is courteous and respectful to every reporter who speaks with him.
Yet his teammates treat him as though he cheated with all their wives.
If there’s any justice in the baseball world, A-Rod will erase his October demons with an eight-home run postseason … while his teammates collapse around him and get what they deserve: A sweep in the ALCS.
Sports personality Bob Frantz is a regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.