Thursday, February 12, 2015

How ARod Cheated Us All By Apologizing

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Why Alex? Why?

Alex Rodriguez apologized to the New York Yankees. He apologized to Randy Levine for calling him the devil. He apologized to Joe Girardi being a distraction to the team, and he aplogized to the ghost of George Steinbrenner for sullying the Yankee name. ARod did all this while robbing all of us fans of one of the greatest commodities in all sports: a true sports villain.

The narrative of sports villainry is as old as sport itself. We are wired as humans to think in terms of us versus them. Its just the way we are. But in modern times we have satisfied this survival mechanism with our illogical love and devotion to sport and our teams. Take the scene around an Oakland Raiders game for example. That team rewrote the book on how to be bad the last few years, and yet fans still show up faithfully every Sunday in get-ups that seemingly belong onstage with GWAR. If you take a step back it doesn't look all that different from Braveheart, a fictional telling of a maybe real struggle for independence (us vs. them).

That's not the only place where we see the villain narrative in sports. It also appears the niche sports entertainment industry known as pro wrestling. Typically those narratives are pretty clear cut. You always know who the good guys and bad guys are, but in the "non-scripted" areas of sports entertainment the villain narrative can be a little blurred.

I think it was Bill Simmons who put forth the idea that this past Super Bowl was kind of unique in that most of America hated both teams. While I know why lots of people hate the Patriots (success breeds contempt), but for the Seahawks I can only figure its got something to do with how successful they are and how confident they are about it. Still it was two teams wearing the "sports villain" identity and America ate it up. Once again the Super Bowl was the most watched TV event in history (consistent with previous years trends, but still impressive). So maybe we like our villains a little more than we all want to admit.

Therein lies why I am so disappointed that Alex Rodriguez has tried to make amends with the Yankees. If ARod was really sorry for his perceived misdeeds he would have made nice along ago. Instead, like a modern day villain he tried to sue people for no reason. Once he exhausted all avenues (perhaps maybe even a vision quest) then he sat out for his time and now he wants to make nice. All he did by going that route was to neuter himself in the eyes of the Yankees and all of baseball.

I mean really, why should he even apologize now? After Brian Cashman called him fat and signed another thirdbaseman? After the Yankees tried to void has contract and don't want to pay his contractually negotiated milestone bonuses? After Jeter stopped returning his phone calls? (I'm assuming)

No, what ARod needed to do was to go full villain all over this thing. I have no doubt he has been busting his ass this off season to get ready to play baseball. Whatever the PED thing meant, ARod was always a physical specimen and he always worked. No one succeeds in baseball without it.

He should have put the target directly on the Yankees back. Alex knows that the Yankees are a collection of overpaid, aging vets who most people have already written off. He should have come out and said something like "I'm going put this team on my back and carry them back to October" and maybe just to jab them a little extra "I'll do what Jeter couldn't do last year". That would get all of our attention. If the "Hate Scale" on Arod is at like an 8 now, we'd be in uncharted territory after something like that. Like 25 out of 10 or something.

Alex should have come out with some more things like "Chase Headley is a great addition. We need some one to make up a little of Robinson Cano's production at second". Then maybe drop a "Maybe Cash and Joe don't want me to play, but its gonna be awfully tough when I'm hitting .350 in June as a part-time DH on a team 4 games under .500".

Then for good measure he should take Didi Gregorius under his wing. Let him know that "Everyone, the Yankees, the fans they all want you to fail. Except me. I got your back". Slowly but surely, ARod would be able to spread his evil entourage swaying one young player after another until he has gained control of the Yankees locker room.

At that point he could dare Cashman, Levine and Steinbenner to cut him. To send him home due the rest of that $60 mil to collect filling his time as he sees fit. Except that they won't be able to, because ARod will be the only thing separating the Yankees from the playoffs and a third straight year without any October baseball.

Oh how the baseball world would seethe. I would love to see Ken Rosenthal's bow-tie spin every time he got heated talking about ARod's resurgence. Or Dan Shaughnessy's finger wagging at the evil Alex Rodriguez. What about chattering heads on PTI or Around The Horn belly aching about how ARod is disgracing the game while mows through the record books?

And he could have had all that if he hits. If he doesn't hit, well then whats it matter? The Yankees are going to cut him anyway. If he's hitting .200 in June the Yankees will DFA him and he'll be at home collecting his checks anyway. No amount of apologies, public floggings or trips to Oprah's coach will change that. If he doesn't hit he's done.

In other words, Alex Rodriguez has got nothing to lose.

I want so badly to route for ARod to turn the baseball world on it head and deep down so do many of you. You just can't admit it yet. Unfortunately, we probably won't get it because ARod is going to walk into the Yankee clubhouse in February tail between his legs and take his beating. Not a fitting ending for one of the greatest sports villains of our time.

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