After Francisco Rodriguez closed out Team USA in the World Baseball Classic last night, he stuck to his vow not to speak to the media. Well, he did until a PR man finally cajoled him into meeting with the horde to share his thoughts on the game. He'd made the vow to avoid the media when the World Baseball Classic started, a move he justified by pointing to the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the team from Venezuelan fans in Canada and in Venezuelan newspapers.
Gordon Edes of Yahoo! Sports takes K-Rod to task for his hurt feelings, and wonders if closer is cut out for life in the New York media spotlight.
What should have been a feel-good story about Venezuela and K-Rod slowly was taking on a different cast – that the Mets had traded not only for a Putz (J.J.) this winter but also a putz. ... But still, that would seem comparatively mild to what Rodriguez is liable to hear in Queens if the Mets stumble. The over-under on the first “K-Fraud” headline is Mother’s Day. If he reacts the same way to that as he does this, fans will hear more out of Mr. Met than K-Rod.
Edes is right that Rodriguez will be under a microscope with the Mets, but he may be underestimating the difficulties of playing for Venezuela these days. Hugo Chavez is such a divisive figure that a national baseball team is going to be subject to fervent, negative attention for reasons that have nothing to do with baseball. Maybe Rodriguez could have handled it better in terms of media availability, but baseball players aren't diplomats and shouldn't be expected to be that way.
He's been around the majors long enough to understand that there will be the occasional boo and the occasional rip in the media. If he stands in front of his locker and takes accountability for blowing a save, K-Rod will be fine.