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Oh look, someone is forcing the “A-Rod is an ego-driven diva” narrative

Oct 11, 2012, 12:30 PM EDT

Yankees' Jeter and Rodriguez celebrate a solo home run by teammate Ibanez against the Baltimore Orioles during Game 3 of their MLB ALDS baseball playoff series in New York

It’s obvious that, for years, Alex Rodriguez‘s ego caused him trouble. He often came off as vain and self-centered in the media. Usually in ways that had little if anything to do with baseball, it should be noted. More as it relates to his public image and the like.

But we haven’t seen that for a while now, and all traces of it have been beaten out of him, it seems, in these difficult past two seasons of his. He hasn’t been the superstar slugger he’s paid to be, but he seems to have said and done the right things and has been a team player.

Which is making life somewhat difficult for the people who cover him. Because the whole thing about Raul Ibanez pinch hitting for him last night and becoming a hero begs for some old “A-Rod is an ego-driven diva” narrative, and the facts, sadly, just aren’t cooperating.

Take David Lennon’s stuff about him at Newsday today. First, from his story, which is headlined “A-Rod fails, but Ibanez stands tall,” natch:

Ibaez rewarded Girardi by swatting the tying home run in the ninth, then followed with the winning blast off lefty Brian Matusz in the 12th in a 3-2 win. Not only was Girardi vindicated, Rodriguez had no choice but to celebrate what had to be an incredibly humbling moment for him personally.

I was watching the game and what I saw was A-Rod immediately look exuberant about the homer and then bound up the steps to be one of the first to congratulate Ibanez when he crossed home plate. Indeed, even Lennon’s own quote of A-Rod belied the notion that this was some problematic moment for him:

“Maybe 10 years ago, I react in a much different way,” Rodriguez said. “But I’m in a place in my career right now where team is everything. I don’t think there was anyone in the ballpark more excited for Raul than me.”

But hey, if you want to believe that it was a moment or personal torment for the guy and that he had to force himself to act happy, I guess I can’t prove you wrong.

Lennon’s tweet about it was curious too:

What has happened in New York recently that even remotely suggests that there is a “24-1″ mentality surrounding Alex Rodriguez? That he gets some sort of special treatment — or expects it — because of who he is or what he’s paid? He has struggled, but he hasn’t complained. He hasn’t ducked responsibility. He has acted like the consummate teammate and professional through these struggles. And, again, he himself talks about how it’s all team-first in the very article that Lennon is teasing here.

A-Rod has a history. Of this there is no doubt. But to treat him as if nothing has changed about him, to assume, as Lennon appears to do here, that his humble words, his team-first attitude and his happiness for Raul Ibanez last night is anything other than genuine and sincere is simply unfair and uncharitable in the extreme.

I know it may be hard to find things to write about now that you don’t have the old, egotistical A-Rod to kick around anymore, but perhaps it’s worth looking for something.

  1. alang3131982 - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Hey remember when AROD was a really good defensive shortstop and he was traded to the Yankees and they had an averageish shortstop and AROD moved to third without grumbling. Imagine what Michael Young would do.

    Also, remember when AROD and Jeter had virtually the same play-off numbers?

    haters hate…but it’s far more fun to appreciate.

    • lardin - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM

      Hey remember when Robinson Cano and Melkey Cabrera came up from the minors and didnt have a pot to piss in and it was Arod, who took them under his wing, and bought them suits to travel in.

      • cur68 - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:47 PM

        I didn’t know any of that. Thanks Lard.

    • number42is1 - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      “Also, remember when AROD and Jeter had virtually the same play-off numbers?”

      i Dont understand how people keep saying this. Arod has played 71 games whereas Jeter has played 155. that’s a difference of half a season.

      • paperlions - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:59 PM

        Yet, their rate stats for the playoff are very similar (ARod’s are still actually a little better). Jeter got to play in far more playoff games during his prime, whereas ARods playoff games have nearly all come after his prime…..and his production is still as good as Jeter’s.

      • alang3131982 - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:00 PM

        Well, you cant exactly penalize AROD for playing for awful teams, can you?

        DJ: career batting line: .313/.382/.448; play-offs: .310/.375/.469
        AROD: career: .300/.384/.560; play-offs: .268/.376/.479

        Both have been equally good in the regular season and post-season. Jeter has had more opportunities, but there is nothing to suggest in their numbers that if AROD had double the opportunities his numbers wouldnt continue on the same plane…so, yeah, AROD has better regular season and post season #s than Jeter

      • number42is1 - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:30 PM

        but i does not make sense to me. you are taking two players that have had drastically different PA’s/Games and comparing them to each other. how many HR’s did Arod hit in the 2001 WS in Game 5 and 6? it just doesn’t work that way

      • nmrdr795 - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:55 PM

        And jeters stats come when it matters most. Arods numbers are usually when were way ahead. You cant compare jeter to arod in playoffs even if the numbers are the same. But its still nice to see an article thats not bashing this guy. It would be hard for anyone one to get benched and there replacement is the hero. Im glad arod isnt feeding into the diva driven media.

      • alang3131982 - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:21 PM

        @number42is1 – if you’re arguing that there is some sort of sample size issue. I’d say there is a problem with your premise that 700 plate appearnces over 16 post-seasons can tell us anything significant, in the case of Jeter. Players change, opponents are different. i’d think the bigger gap isnt between Jeter’s and AROD’s post-season PAs, but in saying there’s something meaningful in so small plate appearances spread over so many years — certainly somethign that their traditional rate stats dont tell us (and we know their post-season #s are eerily similar to their regular season numbers)

        @nmrdr795- what is your proof that Jeter’s stats come when it matters most?

      • number42is1 - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:25 PM

        All i am saying is that if you took two players side by side and looked at their numbers when one played Apr-Sep and the other played Apr-June there is no way you would say that the one who played 3 months was better based on those numbers. you just wouldnt cause it would not make any sense.

      • alang3131982 - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:32 PM

        No one is explicitly necessarily saying that though. His rate stats are better than jeters in the play-offs, which is true. Given his regular season stats, we can reasonably say these are not outliers. Therefore, it’s pretty easy to say had they had similar PAs, AROD would outperform Jeter. he has so far. If you want people to have similar PAs in post season before we can talk about comparisons than there is virtually no comparing players and their post-season numbers.

        In addition, saying AROD is better than Jeter in the post-season is really only to combat people who think Jeter always comes through when it matters (he doesnt) and AROD never does (not true).

        I think it is reasonable to give AROD 400 more PAs (over the same age period as when Jeter accumulated his) and assume AROD would outhit Jeter…that’s the point.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:37 PM

        Dave Cameron: Mythbuster

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/a-friendly-reminder-about-a-rod-and-october/

        Basically, ARod has been even more clutch than Jeter in the postseason.

    • stoutfiles - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      Hey, remember when A-Rod put up monster numbers in Seattle and Texas, resulting in the Yankees agreeing to his insane contract, and then we all found out those numbers were steroid driven? Remember that the Uankees have a very average third baseman now at an insane cost per year, and is going to start and bat at the top if the lineup every year because he’s paid so much?

      That’s why fans are bitter and give him no reprieve when he doesn’t hit.

      • atom55 - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:16 PM

        Come on! A-Rod nabbed 2 MVPs with the Yankees and ranked in the top 10 in WAR five times with them. His decline has to do with *age*. That’s the beast that takes down everybody. And like so many before him, A-Rod’s numbers began to go down hill in his early 30s and is continuing now into his mid-30s.

    • stoutfiles - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      Hey, remember when A-Rod put up monster numbers in Seattle and Texas, resulting in the Yankees agreeing to his insane contract, and then we all found out those numbers were steroid driven? Remember that the Yankees have a very average third baseman now at an insane cost per year, and is going to start and bat at the top if the lineup every year because he’s paid so much?

      That’s why fans are bitter and give him no reprieve when he doesn’t hit.

      • stoutfiles - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:59 PM

        Sorry about the repost, there really needs to be an edit/ delete option, this is 2012.

      • alang3131982 - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:02 PM

        His OPS+ is still better than Jeter’s. AROD lead the league in slugging 4 of 9 years with the yankees…

        Also, when and how long did he take steroids for? How do you know Jeter hasnt? It’s not his fault the Yankees gave an aging player in the decline of his career more money than anyone else thought he was worth….

        Fans should blame the management not AROD who has been an above average if not an exceptional hitter throughout his career in NY

      • lazlosother - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:39 PM

        It’s OK. We got to enjoy the stupidity twice.

  2. Stacey - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    It’s Newsday not the Daily News.

  3. Stacey - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    Also, Lennon spelled Ibanez wrong throughout the entire article. Good editing by Newsday.

  4. thebadguyswon - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    I have never seen a fanbase hate their own future Hall of Famer like the Yankees with Rodriguez. Its sad, but he will never win them over.

    • atlrod - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      Who’s fault is that? Who’s fault is it that management signed him to a stupid contract and didn’t properly plan for his decline years? Who didn’t construct a good enough team to win every World Series EVER?!

      That’s right. Alex Rodriguez. It’s all Alex Rodriguez’s fault. Also, “not a true yankee,” selfish, insecure, steroids, fake, and all other nonsense required when disparaging Alex Rodriguez.

  5. sdelmonte - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Has anyone noticed that ALL Yankees batters not named Ibanez scored just one run last night, and that they’ve only had one instance of piling on the runs in three games? It’s absurd to point fingers at one player. And equally absurd to act as though the Yankees aren’t in a good position, and to not spend lots of space saluting Ibanez and the pitching instead of going after A-Rod.

    It’s all very strange, and even aside from my usual Yankee-hating tendencies (which is tempered a little by my respect for good baseball), I almost want to see them eliminated just to silence the A-Rod whining. Then again, if they get eliminated, we start the postseason angst. Maybe what we all need is for A-Rod to do something amazing just to shut everyone else up.

  6. saints97 - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    He’s just writing what those shitty fans want to hear.

    • Jeremy T - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:00 PM

      Please, please stop grouping us all together like we’re one big amorphous blob. There are plenty of Yankee fans who get annoyed by lazy narratives and terrible writing just like everybody else.

      • ahealthyscratch - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:30 PM

        Welcome to being a reasonable Phillies fan…

  7. deathmonkey41 - Oct 11, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Leave A-Rod alone, David Lennon!!!!

  8. bjbeliever - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Lennon probably didn’t have time to watch the game, had to whip together an article off the stats sheet

  9. daisycutter1 - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    Once Wallace Matthews left Newsday, they had to find another asshole to take his place.

    And up steps David Lennon.

  10. Gordon - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Even if Arod is faking a smile & pretending to be happy even if he’s upset, so what? He’s actually being a good teammate by attempting to not be a distraction.

    • deathmonkey41 - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:20 PM

      It must have killed so many writers that he wasn’t sulking at the end of the bench in the dugout or better yet- that he hadn’t left to go back to the clubhouse.

  11. Kleinz 57 - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    But- but- but what about the false narrative, Craig? Who’s sticking up for that?!

  12. ningenito78 - Oct 11, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Completely agree with Craig. I don’t think it’s a show. He’s not that good of an actor. He’s 37 years old. Most people grow up at some point.

    • kitshky - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:17 PM

      That was an immediate joyous reaction, if that was acting … what’s he been wasting his talents playing baseball for?

    • kitshky - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:18 PM

      (by the way meant to start with “exactly” ..cause now it kinda seems like I miss read your comment)

  13. millmannj - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Hey, remember when Swisher & Granderson were having a horrible 2012 ALDS and no one wrote about it?

    • number42is1 - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:19 PM

      Swish has not had a good post season with the Yanks yet. And granderson is trying to beat Dunn’s regular season So record of 2012 in this post season.. hes almost there

    • deathmonkey41 - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      Granderson’s bats have all been the same. Take first pitch down the middle. Swing at something out of the strike zone for pitch 2 and foul it off. Swing at something even further out of the strike zone for strike three.

      • mybrunoblog - Oct 11, 2012 at 3:58 PM

        Yeah Grandersons AB’s have been ugly. He looks uncomfortable. Pressure getting to him?

      • deathmonkey41 - Oct 11, 2012 at 4:50 PM

        I don’t know about buckling under the pressure, but he seems to buckle under every single breaking ball.

  14. 4cornersfan - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Spot on, Craig. I know that you are not necessarily a big fan of the Yankees but your analysis of the ARod situation and the Lennon article deserves my respect. I can remember when ARod joined the team there were dozens of articles about how the team members despised him, and yet the camera shots of the dugout showed him amiably talking and joking with his teammates. Today on ESPN Bayless went on a tirade about how much he despised Rodriguez but never supplied a good reason other than ARod is getting old. If all sportswriters had to write the objective truth you would have a lot less competition.

  15. 49ersgiants4life - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    I wish I was getting paid 30 million dollars a year to be a team player and get pinch hit for in a clutch situation

  16. stlouis1baseball - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Look…I am certainly no A-Rod apologist. In fact, I don’t particularly like him (since he went to Texas anyway).
    But the dude handled this professionally. A decline in your production brought on by aging is an incredibly humbling thing. He is handling it very well. He is in the last stages of his career. Dude wants another ring.
    So naturally, he is all team. How could he be anything else?

  17. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 11, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    I have to admit I was sad to see ARod lifted for a pinch hitter. Not that it was a bad call, and it certainly worked out well. It’s just that as a baseball fan the last 20 years or so, ARod has been one of the 2 or 3 best players I have ever seen. Maybe it is because we are the same age and it points out my own mortality, but watching him wind down from “all time great” to great to very good leaves me rather melancholy. It is a shame more Yankee fans didn’t appreciate how great he really has been.

  18. baseballs101 - Oct 15, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    Some interesting comments here. Not to attack Jeter but do you all realize that his post season clutch numbers are abysmal? Do you know that he has 9 rbi in 170 plate appearances in world series games with a .227 avg with RISP ? — and 24 rbi in over 250 plate appearances with a .197 avg with RISP in League championship games…of course i understand he is not a RBI guy but his reputation as being the guy we want up with guys on base is belied by those anemic numbers. His “late and close” numbers are not all that great either. This notion that he is clutch is really nothing more than a myth. Lets not forget he has over 700 plate appearances in the post season so of course he had to have a few big moments.

  19. baseballs101 - Oct 15, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    Some interesting comments here. Not to attack Jeter but do you all realize that his post season clutch numbers are abysmal? Do you know that he has 9 rbi in 170 plate appearances in world series games with a .227 avg with RISP ? — and 24 rbi in over 250 plate appearances with a .197 avg with RISP in League championship games…of course i understand he is not a RBI guy but his reputation as being the guy we want up with guys on base is belied by those anemic numbers. His “late and close” numbers are not all that great either. This notion that he is clutch is really nothing more than a myth. Lets not forget he has over 700 plate appearances in the post season so of course he had to have a few big moments. Can anyone remember the last time Jeter had a walk off hit or game winning hit? We can recall those moments with most of the other Yankee hitters but not Jeter. Just saying…

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