The New York Times’ Harvey Araton makes the holiday oh-so-special with news of Alex Rodriguez’ latest public relations gaffe.

Corny as it all may seem, scripted as Derek Jeter can sound, he typically puts the best franchise face forward. At a memorial service last month in California several days after pitcher Cory Lidle™s death in a Manhattan plane crash, there was Jeter, right alongside Torre. Where was Rodriguez? He is not the manager, or the captain, as is Jeter, but what about his alleged standing as the team™s reigning superstar, its most scrutinized player, A-lightning-Rod?

Too many times — as with the Sports Illustrated confessional on the eve of the playoffs — Rodriguez seems to miss the impact of his actions, or inaction.

Last Wednesday, after attending his own charity poker tournament in Manhattan, he canceled on a major fund-raiser the next night at the Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls, N.J. According to a person in the Rodriguez camp who spoke yesterday on condition of anonymity, A-Rod™s mother, Lourdes, had suddenly been hospitalized — certainly a legitimate excuse and far better than the reason David Wright™s people gave for him not showing. (Wright had been inadvertently double-booked that night.)

But Wright is a Met, A-Rod a Yankee, and because he has a history around town of blowing off events (including one of Torre™s last year), because the call to the museum to cancel was made not by Rodriguez but by one of his employees, because there was an A-Rod sighting last Friday night at courtside of the Knicks-Heat game in Miami, the museum people and the Berra family and even the Yankees™ president, Randy Levine, were said to be in a snit, with the impression that A-Rod too often gives: he just doesn™t get it.

In Rodriguez’ defense, Miami losing to the Knicks at home isn’t the sort of thing that happens every day (sorry, Yogi), and given Stephon Marbury’s steadfast support of A-Rod (from one universally beloved superstar to another), the least Alex could do was reciprocate.