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In which a reporter cites herself as evidence that A-Rod is awful

Nov 20, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT

Alex Rodriguez Getty Images

Back in 2007 Selena Roberts, then of the New York Times, wrote a story portraying Alex Rodriguez as a slum lord. I criticized that pretty thoroughly, not so much for the facts reported, but for what was clearly agenda-driven reporting and overheated rhetoric that was obviously designed to put Rodriguez in the worst possible light based on the thinnest possible evidence.

A couple of years later Roberts wrote a book about A-Rod that took much the same tack. The reporting of facts which, in and of themselves, were difficult to question due to their heavy reliance on hearsay and anonymous sources, but which were nonetheless accompanied by sweeping character judgments that were totally unwarranted and unsupported by those facts, even if true.

One person saw A-Rod leave a light tip? A-Rod is cheap. A few residents complain about poor upkeep on apartments owned by a company in which A-Rod has an interest? A-Rod is a slum lord. A-Rod admits to taking PEDs? A-Rod is the worst cheater baseball has ever known.  I noted my skepticism then as well, arguing that, in her highest profile work, Roberts has been shown to retreat to character assassination whenever she can. And A-Rod is not the highest profile example of her taking that tack.

The upshot? Whatever her merits as a reporter, in no way am I ever going to give Roberts the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her editorial voice, because she has shown to be irresponsible in the extreme when it comes to drawing conclusions from a set of (often limited) facts presented. And in no way should anything I say on the matter of A-Rod serve as evidence bolstering her world view of the guy.

Against that backdrop, Roberts has a post over at Sports on Earth today in which she speculates about Alex Rodriguez’s financial health given his looming suspension, legal fees, etc.  In the post she revisits the slum lord meme:

“Being a landlord — or a slumlord, as Rodriguez has been called in headlines -- isn’t a winnable position for anyone …”

That link? To my own post at HardballTalk in which I specifically call out Roberts for irresponsibly tossing the slum lord accusation around in the past. In other words: she is citing herself as evidence that people are calling out A-Rod as a slum lord in the headlines.

Of course, she also spends much of that article citing examples of A-Rod’s quite savvy financial decisions — following Warren Buffet’s advice, diversifying investments, downsizing his real estate holdings — as evidence that maybe A-Rod is going broke, so it’s pretty clear she’s still pathological when it comes to the subject of Alex Rodriguez. If there are multiple ways to interpret his actions they will be interpreted as either evil or stupid, full stop. It’s the only way she knows how to understand the guy.

Maybe A-Rod is a slum lord. Maybe he is going broke. Maybe he is the worst cheater the sport has ever seen. But don’t take whatever Roberts has to say about it as evidence, because she’s perhaps the most startling example of A-Rod Derangement Syndrome in recorded history.

  1. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 20, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    Maybe he is going broke.

    I honestly don’t see how this is even possible. He just made $25M selling that house in FL. Even if he is suspended for all of ’14 (I highly doubt it), he has $61M guaranteed from the Yanks even if he never steps foot on the field again.

    Is it even possible to blow over $80M in future earnings, let alone already squabble some $350M paid?

    Also note, thanks for bringing up the Duke Lacrosse Case. Every time someone links to Roberts story that should be auto inserted for the hatchet job she did on those kids, never once apologizing.

    • skids003 - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:06 PM

      Totally agree. The Duke kids should have sued her.

      • Kevin Gillman - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:20 PM

        They didn’t? Why not? I read that A-Rod book too, and it just seems like Selena is all about tooting her own horn.

  2. Old Gator - Nov 20, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Selena Roberts is Ann Coulter in drag.

    • padraighansen - Nov 20, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      Oh, that’s good. Well played, Gator. Very well played.

    • stevequinn - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      You are doing a dis-service to Ann Coulter.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Nov 20, 2013 at 4:57 PM

        Sorry Steve, but that is not actually possible. Tossing AC into the La Brea tar pits would bring her up three notches.

  3. meatsweat - Nov 20, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Maybe she soiled the bed after a night of passion with ARod and never got a call back…

    • Old Gator - Nov 20, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      Been up late watching reruns of Where’s Poppa, have you?

  4. lightcleric - Nov 20, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    The quote of Whitlock in that blog nailed it: “She looks like a feminist version of Al Sharpton.”

  5. padraighansen - Nov 20, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    One would think that SI learned their lesson after they jettisoned Roberts….but instead, they only went further down the well by bringing in George Dohrman, Pete Thamel, and someone with a byline who makes Roberts look good, Thayer Evans.

    And for those who will reply to say that Dohrman has a Pulitzer, let me gently remind you upfront that Jamie Foxx has an Oscar…for Best Actor.

    More disturbing is the fact that she continues getting hired, whether it’s on a full-time basis or for freelance gigs. How is that possible?

    • Old Gator - Nov 20, 2013 at 10:59 AM

      Here, read this: http://www.amazon.com/Peter-Principle-Things-Always-Wrong/dp/0062092065/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384963116&sr=1-1&keywords=the+peter+principle

      • padraighansen - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:41 PM

        Somewhere, there has got to be a clip of Dr. Tobias Funke ultimately talking about his two Peters, and his innate ability to rise above both of his Peters’ incompetence. Great reference. I just had no idea it was written in 69…always thought that was late ’70’s.

    • jdillydawg - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:30 PM

      I don’t know. I thought Foxx was pretty good in Ray.

  6. m3dman3 - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    She is bat sh_t crazy.

  7. The Dangerous Mabry - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    Just get ready for her next article, where she cites this headline as evidence that bloggers are saying that “A-rod is awful”.

  8. scotttheskeptic - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    @Gator – sadly, Kenneth Mars, deceased 12 February 2011 (per IMDB)

  9. sdelmonte - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    And this is why Sports on Earth continues not be on my bookmark list.

    • Kevin S. - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:56 AM

      Which is too bad, because you really should be reading everything Patrick Hruby writes, especially about the hypocrisy of the NCAA.

      • yahmule - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:32 PM

        Mike Tanier’s ability to blend in depth analysis with some of the funniest writing on the internet makes the place worthwhile by himself.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:59 PM

        Leitch, Hruby, Tanier and Jon Bernhardt are must reads for me. Jorge Arangure’s stuff on baseball in Latin America is also great when he writes it.

  10. bowltr - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Selena Roberts is a complete total hack and a disgrace to the writing profession. Just check out her work on the Duke Lacrosse rape case.

    She should be in jail.

  11. natsattack - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    The irony here is that she linked to an article insulting herself.

  12. arizonagrit - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    Did A-Rod take out Selena Roberts for a steak dinner and never call her back?

  13. peymax1693 - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    She should have pulled a Dick Cheney. In the run-up to the Second Gulf War, Cheney used to leak stories to Judith Miller in the NYT that the US had evidence of Saddam’s WMD. He would and then go on the Sunday talk shows to claim that he wasn’t the only person saying Saddam had WMDs, and he would cite Judith Miller’s stories in the NYT as his proof.

  14. 12strikes - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Pot meet Kettle…
    A post about ” A-Rod Derangement Syndrome” from someone that clearly has “Phillies Derangement Syndrome”.

    • nbjays - Nov 20, 2013 at 3:57 PM

      And commented on by someone that just as clearly has “Craig Calcaterra Derangement Syndrome”…

      • 12strikes - Nov 20, 2013 at 4:03 PM

        WOW! Original.

  15. righthandofjustice - Nov 20, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    That article was published on 2007. From 2007 to 2013, A-Rod made more than $200 million from just baseball contracts. She also said A-Rod invested his money with Warren Buffett and on real estates. Buffett has always been a star investor in Wall Street and the real estate market has been rebounding all these years.

    Even if A-Rod was broke in 2007 the chance is he is no longer now. Some rich people are just slumlords and cheap.

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