Tony Massarotti Shouldn’t Have Written About Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

Another day, another anti-Alex Rodriguez story. But unlike last week’s Mike Lupica column, this week we have a new perspective on the return of A-Rod and this one’s from Boston.

Tony Massarotti, former Boston sports columnist turned somewhat Boston sports columnist again and co-host (or sidekick) of the afternoon drive show on 98.5 The Sports Hub decided he would step into the box and take his best swing at A-Rod. If Lupica went down looking like Carlos Beltran in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS then Massarotti went down like Travis Ishikawa’s two at-bat Yankees career: a strikeout on four pitches and a strikeout on three pitches.

So let’s look at Massarotti’s column and pick it apart the way he picked apart everything about A-Rod.

OK, let’s play word association. You say: Alex Rodriguez. I say: Pathetic has-been.

Should we go on?

You say: Tony Massaorotti. I say: Mike Felger’s fortunate “co-host”.

Should we go on?

Earth to the New York media: I recognize you need your spring training stories – been there, bro – but nobody cares about A-Rod anymore. Of course, maybe we should really be directing that message at Rodriguez himself.

If you ask me, he was cooked then.

I wouldn’t usually waste the time to pick apart someone or something that uses the line “Earth to (insert noun)” since fourth grade was a long time ago, but I will make an exception for Massarotti.

Massarotti has “been there, bro” as a former Red Sox beat writer turned columnist turned radio co-host (or really sidekick) and then turned somewhat columnist again.

No one cares about A-Rod? That’s funny coming from the man who just wrote a column about … wait for it … wait for it … wait for it … A-ROD! No one cares about A-Rod, but here’s a column on him! If writing about A-Rod himself isn’t good enough for Massarotti to realize people care about him then maybe he should also check out the New York Daily News or New York Post front and back covers archive for February or turn on a TV or use the Internet.

Nearly 18 months have passed since Rodriguez played in a major league game of any sort, and he has not played a postseason affair since 2012. That October, Rodriguez went 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts during an American League Championship Series sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers that ultimately saw him land on the bench.

A-Rod was bad in the 2012 ALCS. Really, really, really bad. But guess who else was bad? The entire team.

Robinson Cano: 1-for-18 (.056) with three strikeouts

Mark Teixeira: 3-for-15 (.200) with one strikeout

Curtis Granderson: 0-for-11 (.000) with seven strikeouts

Nick Swisher: 3-for-12 (.250) with five strikeouts

Massarotti is probably right. A-Rod was probably cooked then. In 2013, he hit .244/.348/.423 in only 44 games due to injury and he missed all of last season. But when you owe someone $114 million, which is what the Yankees still owed A-Rod after 2012, you don’t just get rid of them and pay them to do nothing for you. You see if there is still something left in the tank because you’re paying for it.

True story: during his years with the Red Sox, former Boston catcher Jason Varitek all but scoffed anytime anyone asked him about “A-Rod.” Varitek would go so far as to interrupt someone in mid-sentence – “You mean Alex?” he would say in a correcting tone – because he found the man’s nickname as inflated as Rodriguez’ sense of self-worth. Fine, so Alex didn’t like Jason, either. The two famously brawled in 2004. But in many ways, Varitek spoke for an entire population of major league players who have always held Rodriguez in contempt for being, rather simply, the most selfish and self-centered egomaniac in an industry filled with them.

Jason Varitek didn’t like A-Rod?!?! Get out of here! How is this not breaking news on the ESPN ticker right now? (You know what is “Coming Up on SC” on ESPN right now? “A-Rod’s Return”. I guess no one cares about A-Rod anymore.)

That’s nice that Varitek found A-Rod’s nickname “inflated” considering A-Rod didn’t give himself that nickname. I wonder what Varitek thinks about his own nicknames of “Tek” and “V-Tek” and “Captain” or how he felt about wearing a “C” on his uniform? I wonder if Massarotti realizes that outside of Boston, no one liked Jason Varitek as much as no one likes A-Rod. Unless you like overrated career .256 hitters, who always wore a white towel over their head and neck in postgame media sessions like they had just gone 10 rounds at the MGM Grand and who were handpicked by their manager to play in the All-Star game in the middle of a .220/.313./.359 season.

Since Massarotti apparently shares Varitek’s same perspective on the nickname A-Rod and calls him “Alex” in his column as if they are buddies, I’m going to call Massarotti “Tony” for the rest of this column and pretend like we are buddies. And from now on if someone says “Massarotti” or “Mazz” I’m going to be sure to correct them. You mean Tony?

What many of us believe now, of course, is that Rodriguez is an especially wounded child beneath that composite exterior, which is really kind of sad. Rodriguez always had more ability than his chief contemporary, Derek Jeter. He just didn’t have the makeup.

Remember the other day when Mike Lupica said “most fans” while trying to speak as a fan on A-Rod? Well, here’s Tony saying “many of us” when talking about A-Rod. Is Tony saying the majority of people in his family or in Boston or in the country or in the world share his same perspective on A-Rod? That perspective is that A-Rod is an “especially wounded child” which is a little steep to say about the most famous baseball player in the world right now who is going to make $21 million this season (and another $6 million when he hits his sixth home run of the season). Tony says that’s “really kind of sad”. I would agree. Getting paid $21 million to play baseball when you have already made more than any other player in history is a sad way of living.

And no A-Rod story is complete without a Derek Jeter reference or comparison, so I’m glad to see the quota was reached.

For all the attention Rodriguez sought during his career, he routinely wilted under it. On the field and off, as it turns out. In assorted postseason series with the Yankees, Rodriguez batted .133, .071, .190, .111, .125 and .111. His career postseason batting average of .263 was noticeably lower than his career regular season number of .299, and it was worse if you eliminate the productive 2009 postseason in which A-Rod was not the focus.

A-Rod was really bad for the Yankees in the playoffs in all the years except for that one year when he had an historical postseason and carried them to a championship, but let’s forget about those numbers, they aren’t important.

That October, C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira were the ones in New York’s crosshairs, and so Alex flourished.

If only Alex understood the irony. The less attention he got, the better he played.

WHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTTTTTT?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Is that real life?

What did Mark Teixeira hit in the 2009 ALDS against the Twins? .167

What did Mark Teixeira hit in the 2010 ALCS against the Angels? .222

What did Mark Teixeira hit in the 2010 World Series against the Phillies? .136

Whose crosshairs was he in exactly? It wasn’t the Red Sox’ since they were swept in the ALDS by the Angels.

Meanwhile, A-Rod hit .365 with six home runs and 18 RBIs in the 2009 postseason.

I guess there wasn’t “attention” on A-Rod when he hit a game-tying, two-run home run off of Joe Nathan in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the ALDS. I guess there wasn’t any “attention” on him when his solo home run increased a 1-0 lead as the Yankees went on to sweep the Twins. I guess there wasn’t any “attention” on him when he hit a game-tying home run off Brian Fuentes in the 11th inning of Game 2 of the 2009 ALCS. And I guess there wasn’t any “attention” on him when he hit a two-run home run off Cole Hamels with the Yankees trailing 3-0 in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series. “If only A-Rod understood the irony.”

To hear anyone try to say that Mark Teixeira was ever the most-feared Yankee is more ridiculous than anything else in this column or anything else that anyone has said about A-Rod. Teixeira has been a much bigger postseason disaster than A-Rod hitting .167, .222, .136, .308, .000 (0-for-14), .167, .353 and .200 in his eight postseason series with the Yankees. (Notice how I didn’t leave out Teixeira’s two good postseason series the way the way Tony left out A-Rod’s 2009 postseason just to make a point.) Teixeira is incredibly lucky that his first season with the Yankees happened to be the same year A-Rod single-handedly carried the team through the playoffs and to a championship because if he hadn’t and the Yankees still hadn’t won the World Series since 2000 then Teixeira would be equally as hated and ridiculed as A-Rod. He owes A-Rod his reputation in New York, which isn’t exactly great, but still is and always will be better than A-Rod’s.

Teixeira was never the “guy” in the 2009 playoffs. It was always A-Rod. Kind of like how Felger has always been the guy on afternoon drive on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Let’s make something clear here: at his peak, with or without steroids, Rodriguez was a truly great, gifted player. At 22 years old, he authored one of the few 40-40 seasons in baseball history. Anyone who saw Rodriguez play in his youth recognized the breadth and depth of his talent, the personification of a true five-tool player. In the end, people like me will vote for Rodriguez for the Hall of Fame the same way we vote for Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. Because he was great. At least during the regular season.

Let’s make something clear here: despite every negative thing I have said about A-Rod in this column, he was the best player on the planet at one point, so I should probably include that in my column. And oh yeah, I will vote for him for the Hall of Fame! There’s nothing like using the old Larry David/Jerry Seinfeld “Having said that” bit to prove your point.

Of course, just as it did with Bonds and Clemens, that all made the cheating – alleged or otherwise – all the more needless. High risk, low reward. According to baseball-reference.com, Rodriguez already has earned in excess of $356 million in salary during his career, which is a pile of dough. But he got greedy more than once, in more ways than one, and so the damage done to his reputation and career has been equally as costly, if not more so.

So Tony knows about Baseball Reference and knows how to use it, but didn’t take the time to look up Mark Teixeira’s postseason numbers earlier?

It appears as though Tony doesn’t like performance-enhancing drug users in baseball. He’s allowed to feel that way, but why would he then write this book with David Ortiz? Or maybe he forgot about the time Ortiz held a press conference at Yankee Stadium in 2009 to address PED allegations and offered the following statement: “I never thought buying supplements was going to hurt somebody’s feelings. If that happened, I’m sorry about it.”

As long as Ortiz is sorry, it’s OK. I mean he’s Big Papi! He’s a great guy who didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings when he was “carelessly” (his words) buying and taking supplements. I wonder if Varitek has any strong feelings about Ortiz’s nickname? Big Papi? You mean David?

Again, classic Rodriguez. He never could see beyond his own scope.

“Classic Rodriguez!” (I picture Tony using Zach Galifiankis’ voice to say this.)

Lest anyone think the Yankees have been entirely blameless in all this, think again. When Rodriguez opted out of his 10-year, $252 million contract following the 2007 season – he and then-agent Scott Boras tactlessly did this during the World Series – the Yankees rewarded him with an even bigger contract, a decision for which they are still paying. Then there are stories like yesterday’s, suggesting the Yankees were annoyed that Rodriguez gave them no advance notice before showing up to camp two days early.

Boo hoo, A-Rod opted out of his contract while the Red Sox were playing in the World Series. Poor, Red Sox. Poor, Tony.

Hello? Anybody home? Rodriguez has three years and more than $60 million remaining on his contract through 2017, but that is a relatively small price to pay at this point. That number becomes even smaller if one assumes that Rodriguez isn’t likely to see the end of this contract, anyway, meaning that the Yankees will eventually end up paying millions for a player they will have released, be it in 2017 or before.

The point: why didn’t the Yankees just release him now and be done with it? Nobody in baseball would come within a foul pole of Rodriguez anymore. He can’t hurt them any more from the outside than he does from the inside. And if the Yankees are trying to somehow punish Rodriguez by making him play out his contract, they are likely doing as much harm to themselves as they are to him.

Tony, Tony, Tony. TONY! You can’t possibly be asking why the Yankees haven’t released A-Rod, but since you are, let’s review the three reasons why A-Rod is a Yankee:

1. The Yankees owe Alex Rodriguez $61 million over the next three years and that’s not including his bonuses.

2. The Yankees have decided to cut back on spending and need a drawing card to sell tickets. A-Rod is that drawing card.

3. The Yankees don’t have a reliable power option for their offense and A-Rod is now one of many options (like Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann) that the Yankees are hoping they can possibly get lucky with.

The Yankees are a business and A-Rod helps their business.

For sure, there is the possibility Rodriguez will serve as the designated hitter for this Yankees team, but that is hardly the point. Rodriguez is a clown show now the same way that Jose Canseco was at the end of his career, and he will likely lead a circus life like Canseco after his banishment from the game, too. We must all wonder why the Yankees didn’t pull the plug on Rodriguez now, no matter the cost.

You know who says that A-Rod brings a media circus everywhere he goes? The media. The media is the circus that follows A-Rod everywhere and makes A-Rod the story. It’s a shame because instead of asking Yankees ownership and the front office this week why they are operating the team the way they are and what their plan or strategy is the for the future since they didn’t sign Yoan Moncada, the media is worried about counting A-Rod’s batting practice swings and Instagramming pictures of him signing autographs and counting how many home runs he hits off soft-tossed pitches.

No one should care about A-Rod the way Tony wants, but people do because the media is the circus that puts on the show. It’s simple: no coverage, no show. But in a world where most of the mainstream media could care less about being good at their jobs like Tony’s boy Teixeira, A-Rod is an easy story to fill space and word counts. Tony is part of the circus.

Please, put him out of his misery.

Please stop writing this column, Tony. Hold “CTRL” and “A “at the same time and then press “DELETE”.

Spare him.

Or don’t.

Spare us all.

Next time think of your own words when you’re about to write nonsense like this and “Spare us all.”

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