The Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch is uncomfortably close to John Sterling’s “A-Bomb from A-Rod” territory today, making reference to Alex Rodriguez “nuking” the Mets and the third baseman’s “nuclear blasts” off Alay Soler and Heath Bell. Klapisch’s colleague, the Newark Star-Ledger’s Steve Politi merely drops the name of Stuart Smalley in covering A-Rod’s pregame reaction to being named to the AL All-Star team as result of fan balloting.
Sometimes, fans just boo. We have wasted too much time trying to figure out why they are, when the real question is this: Why does A-Rod care? There he was last night before the game, talking about the All-Star voting as if it served as redemption for the treatment he often received in the Bronx last month.
“The whole world is not New York,” Rodriguez answered. “There are some people out there who like me, although some of you guys (in the media) don’t help, there are some people out there who like me.”
Whew. In one mouthful, he seemed to be indicating that the fans outside New York liked him better than the fans of his own team, and that the media were responsible for the way he was treated.
“I have a very nice following,” he continued. “I also understand there are people out there who don’t appreciate my game and probably don’t like me. But history has said that, year in an year out, I’ve been very fortunate with the fans and their votes.”
If he strikes out a few weeks from now, they’ll probably boo him again. He will never be Jeter or Bernie Williams here, guy with a lifetime pass. Many fans will always see him as an outsider, a guy who is more likely to go 0-for-4 in a big game than he is to save the team with a big home run.
Rodriguez needs to understand this, accept this and move on. The radio interviews when he insists the booing isn’t helping, or the not-so-subtle reminders about his prior accomplishments for the team, none of it is going to change how fans treat him when he struggles.