Time to Cast Your Vote, Sports Fans

July 12, 2009
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The Sports Philosopher

The Sports Philosopher

by Brad Eastland, the Sports Philosopher




       I think we should do an experiment.

      Y’see, I’m curious as to how many people actually read LaVerne Online every week.   Or at least how many of you actually read my column.   So I figured, if I posed a sports-related question about a popular, controversial sports figure, we’d get some responses for our mailbag and also have enough data to make some high-level calculations in order to obtain some sort of an idea as to the tenacity, pugnacity, mendacity, sagacity, and, yes, the numerical capacity of our readership.

      So how about this.   Since it’s baseball season, let’s use Alex Rodriguez.   A-Rod.   “The Pride of the Yankees”.  (No no no, take it easy Lou Gehrig, chill out Gary Cooper; don’t roll over in your graves.   I was just kidding.)

      Anyway, you are free to take either of two positions.   Either you see A-Rod as, 1) the greatest player in the game, a sure-fire future Hall-of-Famer of unparalleled talent to be fawned and drooled over and who deserves every dime of his $33-million-dollar-a-year salary, or, 2) the most overrated athlete in sports, a born choker, a selfish spoiled egomaniac who is an embarrassment on and off the field and whose undeserved fame and praise sullies the good name of genuine superstars down through the ages.   Feel free to write me back and select either option, and please attach your thoughts and comments as well.

      I guess you can tell from my tone which position I shall be taking….

      But let’s be fair.   I’m not saying A-Rod is a complete failure as a ballplayer.   I realize he is approaching 600 home runs, has won three MVP awards, and is loaded down with the kind of speed, strength, skill, talent, and spare change that we physically challenged underpaid male mortals who have not yet slept with Madonna can only dream about.   (Notice how I said “yet”.   Madonna has proven that she is nothing if not both prolific and open-minded.)

       I lost my train of thought, what the heck was I talking about….oh yeah, A-Rod.   Here’s what I think.   I think his character, or rather lack of it, has contributed mightily to his failings as a supposedly superstar ballplayer, and I don’t just mean because he cheated on his wife with a washed-up diva and recently got caught with his hand in the Steroids cookie jar (though all that is certainly part of it).   This guy has always been selfish, always been obsessed with stats and utterly me-oriented, from his ridiculous contract negotiations to his obsession with his physical appearance to his truncated, nauseatingly politically correct manner of talking to the press, to how he lied about Steroids at first and then, when caught, quickly apologized to every single person, plant, and pustule on Earth.   Read my column on Manny Ramiriez if you want to know what I think about athletes who apologize for stuff: (http://www.laverneonline.com/2009/05/05/how-manny-times-can-you-say-youre-sorry-the-sports-philospher-goes-steroidal/ ).

      As for what those “failings” as a ballplayer are, well, I hardly know where to start.   For one thing, he fails to do the one requisite thing any great player in a team sport must do to actually be great, which is make his team better.   A-Rod doesn’t do that.   He’s never done that.   In fact he does just the opposite.   He put up great individual numbers for years in Seattle, but it was only after he abandoned the team when the Mariners won a Major League record 116 games in a season, in 2001.   THE VERY FIRST YEAR AFTER HE LEFT THEY WON 116 GAMES, PEOPLE!   Then he went to Texas, where in 2003 he won one of his three MVP awards for a team that finished in last place, about 30 games behind the division leader.   Finally, after depleting Texas’ cash reserves to the point where experts figured they would not be able to pay enough to free agents to contend for anything for years, he jumped ship to go to New York to play for the ever-fat, over-stuffed Yankees, where those same experts declared he would surely win that elusive world title.   Well, amazingly, lowly Texas has finally flourished in his absence (they are currently only a game or two out of first place in the American League West), whereas the overpaid Yankees have not won anything in the SIX years A-Rod has been on the team.   And last year, with A-Rod playing 3rd base, the $210-million-dollar-payroll Yankees didn’t even make the playoffs, for the first time in over a decade.   Doesn’t sound like much of a superstar to me.Alex Rodriguez and his wife, in happier times.

      Moreover, when he does sneak into the playoffs, he sucks!   His lifetime regular-season batting average is .305, but in the post-season it is a sluggish .279.   His lifetime regular-season slugging percentage is .578, but his lifetime post-season slugging percentage is an anemic, downright anorexic .483.   He has gotten a hit in only 7 of his last 44 post-season at-bats.   It got so bad that in 2006 the Yankees’ then-manager Joe Torre batted A-Rod eighth in the line-up.   Eighth.   In a playoff game.   In a playoff game!   Can you imagine Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, or Albert Pujols being asked, or told, to bat eighth in the line-up in a playoff game?   Would you have liked to have been the guy to tell one of those guys he was batting eighth? 

       Perhaps the biggest indictment of A-Rod’s inability to validate his salary in the clutch comes from his own teammates.   Here is a guy who has been nicknamed “The Cooler” by his mates, in reference to how teams he plays for turn cold when he joins them and then get hot the minute he leaves, because of how his attitude affects team chemistry.   Another favorite nickname for A-Rod amongst teammates (as well as amongst Yankee clubhouse attendants, who apparently resent all his various superstar-ish demands) is “A-Fraud”, says Torre himself, in his recent book.   Nothing like having the support of your own skipper….  

      And by the way, this year, as of this writing, the great Alex Rodriguez is hitting a robust .258.   His salary, I say again, is $33 Million.   They just don’t make “best player in the game” candidates like they used to.   I say send him down to Double-A, ‘farm his ass out to the Podunk Roadapples for the remainder of the season (I just made that name up).

      Anyway, that’s it.   You know where I stand.   So let me hear from you.   Do you folks consider A-Rod player type #1 or player type #2?   Best email response gets a prize from the publishers.  (I don’t know exactly what kind of prize….I just made that up too.)

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, and sports nut, in no particular order.   Brad’s other recent columns for LaVerneOnline can be found in Sports under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.  Brad has also written four novels and over 20 short-stories.    Samples of Brad’s fiction work can be discovered within the links below :





4 Responses to “Time to Cast Your Vote, Sports Fans”

  1. AROD has consistently high numbers over his career. 300 BA ,44 Hr, 128 RBI. He is a model of consistency at a high level. A drop down to 279 BA in post season is 1 or 2 at bats. It has been lack of pitching that caused recent post season decline for Yanks. There is a lot of noise and distractions but the numbers don’t lie

  2. I am a huge Yankee fan and went to Anaheim Saturday to see them lose to the Angels. First of all, he’s a joke. He cheated the game and in my opinion is still lying about it. I have no time for him the jerk the Dodgers are glorifying, Manny, or any one else who cheated to get ahead.

    To me baseball is at fault because they looked the other way and the last 20 years are tainted and the commissioner doesn’t have the balls to put an asterick next to these records.

    Alex is not clutch. Look at his game on Sunday. He came up in two clutch situations, the seventh and ninth inning and failed both times. On Saturday he his two home runs with nobody on and the Yanks lost. He doesn’t handle the big stage and I understand why his teammates don’t really respect him or like him.

    To me cheating is being allowed by baseball or else the game would have died back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I feel sorry for Aaron, Maris and the like to have to put up with these jerks.

    I saw McGuire about a year ago. He has shrunk!! You don’t see him on TV anymore because he looks like you and I do now. No steroids, no muscles. He is now a father and has slide away. No way he deserves to go to the Hall of Fame. Maybe the HALL OF SHAME WITH THE REST OF THESE CHEATING ASSHOLES!!

  3. My statement is listed above!!



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