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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Quote of the Day | February 21, 2009: The Cooler

Excerpts from FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal's 2005 piece on A-Rod:

Alex Rodriguez scores on Hideki Matsui's bases-loaded double, and Gary Sheffield follows him down the third base line, ready to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

"Run him over! Run him over!" Rodriguez yells at Sheffield, imploring him to barrel through Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek.

Sheffield scores, and Varitek turns to Rodriguez. "You would never do it," Varitek replies sneeringly.

The incident reveals two Rodriguez traits that infuriate opponents -- his irritating rah-rah act and his perceived pretty-boy approach. Then there's the biggest reason Rodriguez is openly disparaged by his peers: Many view him as a phony whose polished media act is anything but sincere.

. . .

The difference in how they are perceived is illustrated by the plays that defined them in 2004 -- Jeter's startling dive into the stands to catch a foul ball in a July 1 game against the Red Sox and Rodriguez's desperate attempt to slap the ball out of Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo's glove in Game 6 of the ALCS.

"People in the media and fans don't get the look that we get on the field," says Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, perhaps Rodriguez's most outspoken critic. "There are things he's done and said that I've heard -- I've seen -- that I have a huge problem with, and I think other guys do, too."

Judging from the views of former teammates, opposing players and rival executives interviewed for this story, Schilling appears to be right. When asked about Rodriguez, players often roll their eyes in silent disapproval.

. . .

Jealousy almost certainly fuels part of the distaste for Rodriguez. Few thought of him as disingenuous until he bolted the Mariners in December 2000 for a record 10-year, $252 million contract with the Rangers. After three last-place finishes, Rodriguez politicked his way to the East Coast, landing with the Yankees, baseball's most storied franchise, after a trade to the Red Sox fell through.

Ripken spent his entire career with the Orioles, often taking below-market contracts to remain with his hometown team. Though he was certainly image-conscious, hardly anyone thought he took himself too seriously or accused him of being artificial and overcoached. Such are the criticisms that dog Rodriguez. At times, he gives the impression he is Boras' Frankenstein creation, a superstar hatched in a laboratory and programmed by computer.

Ripken, by contrast, seemed more grounded.

. . .

"If you say the truth, you're a jerk. If you're political, you're a phony," Rodriguez says. "You tell me -- what's the right thing to do? All I really care about is guys who have been around me for a long time, guys who go to war with me -- my teammates, my manager. Anything else is a nonissue."

. . .

Rangers players nicknamed Rodriguez "The Cooler" last season, a wry observation on how he cools off every team he joins. Even shortstop Michael Young, perhaps the Rangers player with whom Rodriguez was closest, admits the team chemistry improved dramatically after Rodriguez was gone.

Tags: Ken Rosenthal, A-Rod, The Cooler

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