Sunday, February 26, 2006

Loose Ends

I was going to write about Curt Gowdy, but opted instead to clarify some of my comments about A-Rod from my last posting.

Some of my infidel friends and readers thought that this was a sign of my defection. That I've somehow lost faith in the power and security that the empire provides. That the last two years of playoff failure have made me want to leave my Emperor and my baseball team. Even several of my Imperial allies have questioned me as to why I've decided to join the A-Rod bash-a-thon.

Trust me, it's not like I woke up one day and said, "Gee, why don't I start taking a virtual dump on Alex." Part of the problem with being a fan of a team and being a member of the fourth estate is that you're privvy to information about your team that the general public isn't in many cases. You hear the good and the bad.

The last thing I expect these guys to be is saints. What I do expect them to be is real. If you're an asshole, fine. If you're one of these born-again cats, that's cool too. Just be you. And in most cases, if you play the game hard and the right way, the fans and the public will for most part embrace you.

Alex plays the game hard and the right way. All these Mets and Red Sox fans who say that they would never take him on their team are phonies...hypocrites of the worst kind. These are the same fugazies that were salivating when there was a possibility of him playing at Shea or Fenway. Their hatred of A-Rod is purely jealousy driven.

Imagine taking Hater-ade with a twist of Red Bull.

But there has been one criticism of Alex that, in my opinion, has stood up to inspection and review. That's that Alex is a poor man's Bill Clinton (at least during his first term). A politician who governs more from opinion polls than the gut. Or in this case, an athlete who bases his decisions more on what is popular with Madison Avenue than what he feels (or rather what we think he thinks) is the right thing to do.

Take the World Baseball Classic. Most baseball fans I know could care less about this tournament. To the contrary, many wish that Bud Selig would cancel it tomorrow. The idea that they're selling this as a tournament to market the game to the world is a farce. When you have position players playing less than half a game and starting pitchers only throwing 60 pitches in a game...that's not a tournament, that's an exhibition. While it's admirable that MLB and the players are trying to sell the game to a larger audience (they should start with the inner-cities in this country) it's doubtful that you're going to get anyone who doesn't already love this game to watch just because Taipei is playing Mexico in the quarters.

This is just an opportunity to market more merchandise to its fans like the NFL does with alternate home jerseys and the NBA does with throwbacks. I've already gotten a dozen solicitations to buy WBC gear.

That's what this is all about. The almighty dollar. Not little leagues in Lillehammer. Soccer is the world's game. Basketball is a distant second. Baseball and Football are American phenomena. You might make a dent in East Asia and Latin America, but that's as far as you're getting.

And that's what pisses me off about A-Rod's indecision. He's a smart guy. Smarter than most of his colleagues. He has to know that this is just a marketing scheme by Bud and company. He lobbied hard to get on the Latin Legends team as a Dominican. Despite the fact that he was born in NYC and spent most of his formative years in the Florida, he got his wish.

So it would make sense that he would play in this tournament as a member of the D.R, right? Open and shut case? Nope.

Instead, we get months of indecision about a tournament that noone cares about. Why? He says that it was a tough decision because of his mult-cultural heritage. But he decided that if he was going to play in this tournament he should do it with the U.S.

Now I'm not going to pretend that I know anything about this man, but why drape yourself in the flag now? Where was this patriotism when you were lobbying to be a Dominican for the Latin Legends? You didn't think about the spot you took away from someone like Dave Concepcion or Luis Aparicio? Two men who are beloved by their countrymen in Venezuela.

He talks about the pressure and how tough a decision it was to make. Tougher than Hideki Matsui's? A-Rod could win three more MVPS and three-peat as a World Series MVP with the Yankees. And he still couldn't begin to be as popular here as Matsui is in Japan. Yet Godzilla decided not to play in the tournament. Like it or not, at least he didn't jerk anyone around.

Personally, I think the only real reason Alex's playing for Old Glory is because of Madison Avenue. I think someone got in his ear and said that he would sell a lot more jerseys with the U.S on the back than the D.R and he decided to flip sides.

Being black, we're used to this sort of behavior. Everyone wants to be us when it means you can drop 80 like Kobe, play like Coltrane and sing like Sarah. But when you have to go hail a cab in midtown or get accepted into a decent condo, they're C.Thomas Howell before the tanning pills.

Money talks, everything else takes the F-fing F.

I'm sure he's not the only one. But he's the only who decided to do Hamlet while deciding (and not even a good one, Derek Jacobi and Mel Gibson put him to shame), so he's the one who gets the grief.

Ozzie Guillen is a loudmouth weasel. Not for what he said about Alex. But for backing off what he said when he started getting a little grief for it. He looked even worse when Alex took the high road and didn't get into pissing match with him. Guillen came off looking like the small, insignificant man he is.

But it doesn't change the fact that what he said had a lot of folks nodding in agreement. Just because the messenger is a whackjob doesn't mean the message is wrong.

Will I root for him, opening day and every day afterward? Absolutely. Is he one of the two or three best players in the game right now? You betcha.

But right now, he's viewed as this generation's Steve Garvey and Gary Carter. Star players, who were respected for their ability by their peers and fans, but disliked by their baseball brethren as well for their love of the camera and their constant polliticking whenever the red light was lit. You never got a feeling of who these guys were because of their cheezy personas on camera. And it was revealed that they were phonies, their reps never recovered.

Hopefully A-Rod will never have go through that. But my feeling is that he should show the people who he truly is or give them nothing at all. If he cares as much about his public persona as we think he does, hopefully he'll realize that spin just makes people dizzy and confused. And usually not to your way of thinking.

The easiest way to stop the chatter by me and everyone else is to win. Nobody will be able say damn thing to you if you accomplish that.

The one thing this country loves is a winner. Just ask Bode Miller.


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