Rather than being celebrated as baseball’s most gifted position player, through a combination of his own deeds and words, Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez might be the most widely mocked figure in the game. Until Rich Garces comes out of retirement, at least. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman examines the situation.

Alex Rodriguez is turning into Bobby Valentine before our eyes. His mere smile, the way he answers questions, the style he carries himself at work all generate loathing even from folks who hardly know him.

Texas willingly ate $67 million to push A-Rod out the door, and it was not just to better balance its books. Manager Buck Showalter led a Rangers contingent that determined Rodriguez was involving himself too much in organizational decision-making.

Jose Canseco, in his just-released book, took time away from outing steroid abusers to label Rodriguez the biggest phony playing today.

And more and more, the Red Sox are making it open season on A-Rod, singling him out as the on-field embodiment of the Evil Empire and doing everything they can to soil his reputation.

Rodriguez’s slapping at Arroyo’s glove in last year’s ALCS encouraged Red Sox players to belittle A-Rod, with Curt Schilling leading the attack. Two weeks ago, in The Record of Hackensack, Rodriguez bragged that 650-700 players were sleeping or taking their kids to school while he was honing his body with rigorous, early-morning workouts. Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon took exception to that and, among other things, called A-Rod a “clown.” Even Yankees officials privately thought it was an imprudent and self-serving comment by A-Rod that only could prompt annoyance from others.

Interestingly, both Schilling and Nixon invoked Derek Jeter’s name in stressing Rodriguez was not a real Yankee, and because there is a sense around the game Rodriguez is jealous of Jeter, those are blows even further below the belt. That seems right since they already have gotten under his skin and into his head.