A-Rod Schadenfreude, Writ Large

When my local TV news station ran an item on Alex Rodriguez’s marital discord, I knew the story had struck enough chords and brain receptors in the minds of editors and executive producers across the country for the perfect story. Combine the highest-paid baseball player (and the game’s most talented) with a washed up pop star like Madonna (quibble all you want, but she is riding on her 80s output like a greatest hits show), toss in possible Kabbalah crap and rumors of Lenny Kravitz joining the jilted Cynthia Rodriguez in Paris, and these are the things that crack local newscasts and papers across the country, not just in New York, where the Post and the Daily News are the closest thing we have to semi-legit tabloids.

These are the stories that give license to Deadspin’s A.J. Daulerio to create tags of genius such as “Justify My Glove” to encompass the entire scandal (part baseball reference, part Madonna reference, and part Kravitz, as he penned “Justify My Love” for the Material Girl years ago.)

But the question that always pops up with me is: why do we care so much? Michael Jordan’s divorce from wife Juanita did not receive this much play outside of Chicago and he’s worth more than A-Rod could ever hope to be at this point. Obviously, there is the inevitable celebrity factor involved with Madonna, which will get shows like Entertainment Tonight, Extra, and their ilk all over it, but as far as sports fans go, well, what’s the explanation?

I sense that, more than any athlete around right now, we want to see Rodriguez fail at things.

He has been the highest paid player in baseball, an immensely talented man playing what many would consider a kid’s game, for the better part of a decade, yet has not been able to put up numbers in crunch playoff time for the Yankees (not that his teams in Texas ever sniffed playoffs.) His playoff legacy, barring the Yankees winning a World Series before he is done, will be the attempt to slap the ball out of the glove of Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis pitcher Bronson Arroyo on his way down the line in 2004.

He is the supposed home-run king in waiting; having never tested positive for any performance enhancing drugs or had any substantive reports emerge about any use of them, Rodriguez is the one whom everyone assumes will erase the thought of Barry Bonds‘ supposed besmirching of a record that Hank Aaron worked so hard to earn.

Rodriguez is the easy #1 fantasy pick in damn near every baseball league; a good defensive player despite playing out of position in deference to Derek Jeter — whose abilities have clearly slipped with age. (A side note about Jeter: the lifelong bachelor has shacked up with numerous hotties, but those reports never linger; if A-Rod were single in the way Jeter is, he’d probably take just as much shit. The Yankee captain is pure Teflon.)

And we hate him for that, because in every public aspect of his life, he’s trying too damn hard. No one gets more heat in blogs for odd looking photos outside of Brady Quinn, he gets no benefit of the doubt. It’s hard to believe that there are baseball players (outside of the more obviously religious) that don’t sleep around, yet the microscope on Rodriguez is constant, as if we are waiting for the infallible man on the regular-season field to fuck up spectacularly.

And he does so beautifully. Mannish stripper north of the border? Check. Awkward statements about his relationship with the team captain? Check. Rumored dalliance with over-the-hill singer? Check. Impending nasty divroce proceeding? Check.

He is a narrative we want to see; we cannot bear to see talent at that level be so inhuman, so placid, so fake in appearance that we revel in his all-too-human foibles of trying to overcome struggles in the crunch moments of the job or the usual truth that many people are only as faithful as their options. It’s no fun when someone that talented, and that loaded, is successful in every aspect of his or her life. Such a thing cannot stand.

(Note: this isn’t a “LEAVE A-ROD ALONE’ type deal. I’m fascinated by what actually makes this story tick, so to speak.)

4 Responses

  1. It seems that America’s new pastime is ruining men’s lives because of their marriage problems. There is a little too much glee over A-Rod.

    It’s as if society wants to see men fail. I think it is a shame to attack A-Rod just because he had a friendship with Madonna. When did we decide a woman owns a man to the point that she can dictate who he is friends with?

    You can find me at http://www.manupmen.wordpress.com I’d like to keep up with your writing.

  2. Witch Madonna Destroys Alex Rodriguez’s Marriage – Trainer Confirms Brainwashing


  3. hello soy dayana cardenas soy fanatica de los yankees de new york soy de venezuela me encantan los yankees los quiero mucho me gusta la forma de batear de ustedes su ofensiva en fin me gusta todo de ustedes si yo tuviera la oportunidad de ir para new york lo primero que haria es ir al yankees stadium y animar al equipo y gritar hasta quedarme sin voz les quiero mandar un saludo a todos a si alguno sabe hablar español e english que lo tradusca para los que no saben hablar español les mando saludos a:DEREK JETER,NICK SWISHER MARK TEXEIRA,ALEX RODRIGUEZ,ROBINSON CANO,JORGE POSADA,CURTIS GRANDERSON,FRANCISCO CEVELLI,BRED GARNED,ANDY PETTITTE,CC SABATHIA, AL MANAGER EN FIN UN GRAN SALUDO A TODOS LOS ADMIRO Y A BUSCAR EL 28 CAMPIONATO DE BEISBOL LOS QUIERE DAYANA en verdad son el mejor equipo y sin quieren ganar no miren hacia atras y sin tienen algun problema no tengan miedo tienen todo lo que se necesita para un conformar un equipo de beisbol tan bueno todos los demas quisieran tener un equipo haci pero eso no se consigue todos los dias y si en algun juego van perdiendo no se alarmen y vengan por detras para que el otro equipo se quede completamente congelado como lo hicieron con los doggers de los angeles en el 6to episodio hr de alex rodriguez iimpulsando 2 carreras te felicito por tus 595 hr sigue asi y llegaremos a los mil en el 9no empataron el juego yo no podia hablar de lo emocionada que estabay para completar hr de robinson cano 8-6 tremendo juego espero que hagan muchos asi los quiero mucho y me encantaria conocerlos seria un milagro ya que estoy muy lejos en fin los quieros mucho y no engorden para que sigan teniendo esa figura que aqui en mi pais les encanta y un alago para alex rodriguez a tu color de piel le decimos moreno chocolate y el color de piel de mark texeira nos encanta y los ojosverdes de derek jeter nos facinan en fin mis mejores deseos para ustedes los quiero nunca dejen de ser como son, tengo 13 años y me encanta el beisbol les doy mis mejores deseos son muchos todo lo bueno de todo el mundo entero son el mejor equipo como ustedes no hay ninguno que tengan los mejores juegos los quiere dayana
    saludos atodos mil besos y abrazos a todo el equipo de los yankees de new york la gran manzana le decimos a new york por lo grande y bella que es no la conosco pero me la imagino me despido dayana

  4. Ew that chick is like 50 years old anyway, look at her. He can do WAY better anyway.

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