A-Rod and Kobe: A peculiar form of foot and mouth disease

March 15th, 2007 → 9:00 am @ // No Comments

In case you missed it, A-Rod did a radio interview of Def-con 5 proportions with WFAN’s Mike and the Mad Dog. (I kid. But I almost drove off the road trying to imagine what would happen if Manny tried this kind of crap.) For those who missed it: A-Rod seemed to almost threaten fans by saying he’d leave town unless they gave him a big ol’ wet kiss:

“It’s a do-or-die situation. Either New York is going to kick me out of New York this year. … Listen, at some point, either New York is going to say, ‘I’ve had enough of this guy, get him the hell out of here’ — and we have an option — or New York is going to say, ‘Hey, we won a world championship, you had a big year, you’re a part of it, we want you back.'”

Rodriguez was, of course, referring to the opt-out clause he has after this year (the same opt-out clause the players association essentially said was worthless, which was one of the reasons the whole A-Rod/Manny deal didn’t go down; time permitting, more on that later today), essentially (to paraphrase Steve Winwood*) telling New Yorkers to love him or leave him alone. It was, all in all, an impressively stupid thing to say, and, coming on the heels of his “what I really want to do is fan the flames of controversy” statements about his non-friendship with Jeter, makes you wonder if he’s actually trying to make fans (and teammates) hate him more than they already do.

And maybe that is what’s going on, but I don’t think so. A-Rod’s awkward ramblings remind me of the rough draft of an essay I read by Kobe Bryant a couple of years back. I won’t get into specifics, but Kobe was writing something for a publication I was working for. To his credit, he actually wanted to write it himself. Not to his credit, he thought the mere fact that he was writing it meant it would actually be, you know, good. Or even vaguely comprehensible. It was almost as if you could see the wheels turning in Kobe’s head. He’d been touted as being a sort of scholar-athlete for years (multi-lingual, blah blah blah). He went into the NBA right out of high school and even without any higher ed, he was still better spoken — and I’m sure he felt smarter — than a lot of league’s other players. And he’s insanely insecure: he doesn’t just want to be great, he wants you to think he’s great. This combo — inflated ego, preening insecurity, too much attention, too much money — is deadly, and when the Kobes (and the A-Rods) of the world discover they’re not universally loved, they feel the need to go out and prove to everyone that, goddammit, they should be. (Or at least that’s my theory, based on nothing except my random conjectures after a night of four hours sleep.)

There are plenty of preternaturally good players (and plenty of young stars) that don’t try to win over the public, don’t try to prove they could have been lawyers or CEOs if they weren’t multi-millionaire athletes (Jeter, Clemens, Pujols, um, Manny.) But A-Rod has been annoying and alienating teammates and fans alike for years, and a lot of it’s been because he’s under the misapprehension that it’s a good idea to go and try to, say, go one-on-one (er, two) with the likes of Mike and the Mad Dog (or impress the cool kids over at Esquire). So look, Slappy: you’re never going to be loved. You gotta realize that. And then, finally, some people might actually start to like you.

* Actually, as an astute reader pointed out, Traffic’s Jim Capaldi both wrote and sang “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone.”

Post Categories: 2007 Spring Training & A-Rod

5 Comments → “A-Rod and Kobe: A peculiar form of foot and mouth disease”

  1. nickvockrodt

    17 years ago

    I would love to hear more about the opt-out clause and its effect on the Manny negotiations.


  2. MarshallDog

    17 years ago


    I’m sure everyone on the blog is tired of hearing Seth plug his book, so I’ll do it for him this time… You should read Seth’s book to get the whole story on the A-Rod negotiations. Actually, I think you should read it anyway because it’s a good book.

    Seth’s post reminds me of something… why the hell hasn’t “Slappy” stuck as A-Rod’s nickname? If he does opt out of his clause at the end of the year, I hope Yankee and Red Sox fans will be able to come together against a common evil.

    Of course, that could only happen if the Sox don’t try to sign old Slappy Boy.

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  4. benschon

    17 years ago

    Seth, you big tease. You’re not going to give us any information on the essay written by Kobe? I’m dying to know what he has to write about for, what was it, Brill’s Content? Surely he mentioned his penchant for Colorado hotel employees, or flying elbows. Something, anything. You’re killing me!



    17 years ago

    ‘We understand John Henry must be embarrassed, frustrated, and disappointed by his failure in this transaction. Unlike the Yankees, he chose not to go the extra distance for his fans in Boston.’ Steinbrenner, Feb 15/04.

    Hey, none of this believe in this superstitious stuff anymore, but it’s hard not to entertain the thought that the baseball forces finally gave the Red Sox a break the time they let A-Rod slip into the hands of the Yankees. Remember how we felt at the time, like another knife had been plunged in us. But as things unfolded we saw instead the fickle finger of fate get stuffed in the eye of A-Rod. In the bottom of the ninth of ALCS game 4, he was on the verge of being another stud hoss stripes-earned Yankee, part of another gray machine that ground the Sox into dust. Instead he became part of the biggest collapse in history, immortalized the slap play, and fell into a disastrous postseason slump. And the guy the Sox would have given up for him was the Series MVP. The irony of it all. May be wishful thinking, but I think we’ve got plenty more of this Loneliest Yankee show to look forward to this year.


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