What if A-Rod Isn't What We Think He Is?

Over his five years as a Yankee, Alex Rodriguez has seen his immense baseball talent obscured by everything from his salary to Madonna to, now, a book by his former manager. All of them serve to make Rodriguez something less than a member of the team. Instead he becomes this boy in a bubble who trails alongside the rest of the team without ever truly being part of it.

That's why you believe the stuff leaking out of Joe Torre's book about his teammates calling him A-Fraud and about him being obsessed with Derek Jeter. You'd believe almost anything about Rodriguez at this point. If Torre's book had him licking toads and drinking his own urine, people would believe it and taunt Rodriguez about it.

So what to make of former Yankee coach Larry Bowa's claim that Yankee players didn't call him A-Fraud? Or that bullpen catcher Mike Borzello did, but to his face and in the joking manner familiar to anyone who spent any time playing a team sport? That doesn't quite fit the boy in the bubble image that's been so strenously constructed by people inside and outside the Yankees, nor, quite frankly, do the images of Rodriguez in the dugout with Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano and Johnny Damon, to name three Yankees who don't fall victim to the same slings and arrows.

Rodriguez may be aloof and he may be a bit of an odd duck, he might have been a bad husband and he might be emotionally damaged. But maybe he isn't. Or maybe it doesn't matter since he's a baseball player and not our brother, son, friend or anything other than a guy who plays a game for our enjoyment.  

He's an easy target and he's a big target, that's why he's one of the centerpieces of Torre's book. Everyone wants to see the richest and most talented guy taken down a peg, especially when he isn't Jeter or some other earnest version of the pro athlete we've been told to admire. That doesn't make it right or true, it just means that Torre, Tom Verducci and their editor knows what sells.

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