Alex Rodriguez’s 600th home run was endlessly pimped by ESPN, YES, and the collected New York tabloids, to the point that the Yankees’ taut anticipation of this historic event was posited by the fretful NY press corps as the source of the team’s struggles. (You know, those struggles where they lose two games to the Blue Jays in the midst of another playoff-bound season. We should all struggle so much.)
When he finally connected for this historic dinger, the Yankee Stadium crowd gave him a standing ovation, something he rarely receives, even in The Bronx. But in the rest of the sports world, the event was greeted with either yawns or “enough already”s. Why is that? It is, after all, an historic accomplishment, one only attained by six other humans. No batter will reach this lofty goal again for a while, unless JI- JIM THOME can hang around long enough to hit the mark.
Is it the Steroids Issue? Yes, Rodriguez used them at some point in his career, and he is often taunted with screams of A-Roid (among other variations on his nickname). But I honestly think that, while PED hysteria reigns in newspapers and on talk radio, most fans don’t give two doots about them. While the ethics of taking steroids are debatable, anyone who roots for a team has rooted for someone (knowingly or not) who used them. If it’s a crime, we’re all complicit. Those A-ROID! screams stem more from a desire to make fun of him than actual outrage.
Therein lies the reason for the apathy: Nobody cares about A-Rod’s 600th homer because nobody likes him. Last week, Ken Tremendous encapsulated it in one amazing tweet: “‘Alex Rodriguez is my favorite baseball player of all time!’ said nobody.”
I find this alternatively hilarious and tragic. Alex Rodriguez is one of the best to ever play the game. We may never see a better all-around player. He’ll break a ton of offensive records before he retires, and he will undoubtedly make it to Cooperstown.
And yet, every step of his career he has been overlooked or reviled for one reason or another. Many of these reasons are unfair. He was hated for his enormous contract when he signed with the Rangers, as if any human being would have turned down the money he was offered. He was hated for his “failures” in the postseason, even though other Yankees failed just as badly or worse. He was hated for not displaying the Jetery Jeterness of his beloved teammate, even though he’s a far superior player.
But there is one other negative about Rodriguez that, while also unfair, is still true: he’s a Giant Douche. It’s unfair because it’s beyond his ability to change. But it’s true because, c’mon, just look at the guy. If you saw a picture of him and knew nothing about him, you’d still proclaim, “There stands a douche.”
He’s certainly not the first Giant Douche to play baseball. Joe DiMaggio was apparently a miserable human being. Ted Williams was such a douche that even the slavish sports press of his day made it public knowledge. More recently, we have examples like A.J. Pierzynski, Shane Victorino, and Jonathan Papelbon, all world-class douches.
There are many kinds of douches. Most are the brash, un-self-conscious type. Or they’re the exact opposite, blissfully unaware of the damage they cause, like a douchey bull in a china shop. The one characteristic they share is not caring about how they’re perceived by the public at large, either because they don’t realize it or don’t care.
Rodriguez is a very different, very special type of douche, perhaps the only one of his kind. He gives off a distinctive douche aura immediately obvious to all who see him. And yet, he is so intent on proving himself not a douche that he actually makes himself appear even more douchey in the process. He wants to be loved, which should be a good quality in a person. But somehow, when filtered through the Alex Rodriguez Machine, this desire comes out twisted.
We all know the very public instances of his douchiness. But here is a story about Mr. Rodriguez that I feel illustrates it perfectly. I have to say I did not witness this story as it happened, but I know the people involved and can vouch for their truthiness.
This incident occurred at an office where I used to work on the Upper West Side. A-Rod apparently lives somewhere in the vicinity. He was out walking in the neighborhood and realized he needed to use the bathroom. As you probably know, it’s really hard to find public rest rooms in Manhattan, because they don’t exist. If nature calls and there’s no Barnes and Noble nearby, you’re pretty much screwed. So A-Rod ducked into our office and asked to use the facilities.
Unfortunately for him, the receptionist didn’t recognize A-Rod and refused to let him use the bathroom. He pleaded his case to no avail, until a higher-up in the company saw him, kowtowed, and gave him permission to take care of business. On his way, he grabbed a copy of the Daily News from our waiting area.
A considerable while later (long enough to assume he was not just going Number 1), he emerged and thanked the company for its belated hospitality. But before he left, he left the copy of the Daily News on the secretary’s desk. He had it open to a page featuring his photo, just to let the receptionist know that she had almost prevented an enormous superstar from taking a squeege.
That is a very special kind of Douche right there.