Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Lack Of Comprehension

  • A comparable for A-Rod-Jeter:

Mike Francesa and Jon Heyman had their usual session of pontificating, expertise and full lack of comprehension as to reality yesterday. Heyman with his sources and wishy-washy reluctance to take a bold stance; Francesa with his pomposity and all-knowing declarations.

You can listen here.

A chunk of it was spent on discussing the Derek Jeter-Yankees negotiations and how it related to Alex Rodriguez.

Again, neither seems to get it.

Regardless of their "inside" sources and whispers they receive off the record, they see the genesis of the A-Rod-Jeter "feud" as having to do with money; jealousy of the other man's accomplishments; fighting for headlines----silly stuff that one would find on The Bold and the Beautiful or in a Harlequin Romance novel.

Without having any "sources" as those two supposedly do, I can tell you what I see as the genesis of the A-Rod-Jeter tension and it has nothing to do with money, medals or women.

It has to do with perception.

The best comparable I can see between the duo is the 1980s-90s circling between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.

Tyson, the fatherless street thug who'd risen to the heavyweight championship of the world by clawing his way up through reform schools and was discovered by happenstance; and Holyfield, the image-crafted Olympic medalist who had a team of managers and "people" plotting every move was the "good guy" to Tyson's "evil destroyer".

Naturally, it was a farce.

Like A-Rod and Jeter, the two were friends some of the time----it was Holyfield who consoled Tyson on the flight back from Japan after the shocking knockout loss to Buster Douglas----enemies and rivals much of the time.

They needed each other and both knew it.

As their paths diverged----Tyson going to jail, Holyfield becoming known as one of the fight game's greatest warriors----their showdown was repeatedly delayed. When they did meet, Holyfield battered Tyson once and, in the rematch, Tyson exacerbated his reputation as an out-of-control animal by biting Holyfield and getting himself disqualified.

Holyfield was the "warrior"; Tyson the "bully" and "quitter", falling at the feet of anyone who dared hit him back or have the audacity not to be frightened of him.

But it hasn't turned out as simply as "good, God-fearing Christian athlete" vs "hardened ex-convict".

Holyfield isn't this gentle soul.

Tyson's not this brainless beast.

It always rankled Tyson that he was seen as an enemy of society while Holyfield discussed God and his Christian beliefs; Tyson asked why God would be smiling on one side of the ring and not the other as if He had some vested interest in the outcome.

Underneath all the propaganda, the two were eerily similar. Holyfied, with some vast number of children (16 kids with 18 women; or 18 kids with 16 women----some permutation of that sort) was accused by George Foreman and Larry Holmes of being one of the dirtiest fighters they'd ever encountered. Tyson could be thoughtful, insightful and gentle when the mood struck him.

How does this relate to A-Rod-Jeter you ask?

A-Rod is perceived as a player after money, numbers and status.

Jeter as the epitome of team-oriented winning whose success isn't judged by how many homers he hits and how much he's paid, but whether or not the team won.

Neither is exactly accurate.

Because they know each other so well, there's always been a wink and a nod between Jeter and A-Rod that they're playing their game----and I don't mean simply on the field.

Jeter's not this apple pie and mom loving, baby kissing, gentleman; A-Rod's not a greedy, amoral creep.

In fact, they're eerily similar.

And that's the problem.

As players, A-Rod's clearly better. Jeter has been advantaged greatly by being a Yankee during their dynasty and being in New York; A-Rod was "chasing it". Chasing the elusive accolades doled out to his friend and rival. Knowing he was a better player wasn't enough; he had to get a paycheck that dwarfed Jeter; to date the celebrity women that everyone would ooh and aah and envy; Jeter did the same, but it wasn't seen as a showy means to an end; most of the Jeter starlets were seen as wholesome and clean; A-Rod was dating A-list actresses.

Because A-Rod knew the truth; because he resented Jeter's image, the two were destined to drift apart. Now that they're teammates, it's a cruel joke played on both; that they're side-by-side on the Yankees infield predicates that the oneupmanship won't end.

Jeter was the face of the franchise; A-Rod the unwanted interloper. Jeter the "winner" whose cohesive unit was sabotaged by the importation of mercenaries like A-Rod; A-Rod clutching and grasping for respect and a ring.

This isn't a Selena Roberts-style, C-grade term paper disguised as a book length "biography"; it's not a Heyman/Francesa session of nonsense. It's a realistic assessment of the complicated machinations of both men using one another to get what they truly want----money and respect.

Having taken different routes doesn't relieve the underlying truths that they're like brothers whose growing egos, fortunes and circles of friends commingle to a remarkable degree. This is what happens when in that stratosphere of paycheck and accomplishment.

Because of the stupid contract the Yankees gave A-Rod to keep him after 2007, Jeter----with some justification----wants to be paid commensurately without a reference to his age and statistics in comparison to A-Rod. Jeter's essentially saying, "I've been a good soldier; have never embarrassed anyone with off-field stuff----don't tell me I shouldn't get an extra few bucks because of it; you paid A-Rod, pay me too."

Much like the ill-informed and misplaced analysis from the media at large, the connection isn't fair; because the Yankees overpaid A-Rod doesn't mean they have to do the same with Jeter to that insane extent.

Jeter's about to get his money and he used----needed----A-Rod to do it.

Don't think both men don't understand this and have utilized it accordingly.

They've leveraged it to their advantage. You can continue to be fooled; to buy into the PR campaigns feeding the images; but it has nothing to do with reality; nothing to do with the truth.

  • Viewer Mail 12.4.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Jason Varitek:

I was surprised the Red Sox brought Varitek back too. Maybe he has pics of Theo in a compromising position.

It would explain quite a bit and at the very least would undo this sentimentalist idea that's more than likely the reason they keep bringing him back. It's bad for their ruthless reputation.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Varitek and Kenny Williams:

Yeah, I actually LOL'd (that's what the kids are sayin') when I heard about Varitek.

As for the White Sox, Kenny Williams and his front office skillz perfectly mirror the lifestyle and culture of the neighborhood where the Sox play. We southsidaz... we'z NASTY!!!

Williams was ready to duke it out with the gigantic Frank Thomas, which pretty much says all you need to know about Kenny Williams.

Joe writes RE Jason Varitek:

Varitek actually serves more of a purpose this time. As of now they could platoon Salty and Varitek -- as each one has been a solid hitter from the opposite side of the plate over the past 3 years. Statistically, they should be able to add up to one decent catcher. Of course, injury history and how Varitek's age will effect him are both unknowns. But people are looking at this from the wrong perspective, because a platoon might be a league-average catcher. But I do hope they find someone else that can give them a little more certainty...However, as of now, it could be worse.

Stop it, Joe. Just stop it.

What stats are you citing for Varitek? From 2008? He's going to be 39, can't throw and can't hit----from either side of the plate----period.

As for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, he's always hurt, hasn't hit and can't throw. He was playing in a hitter's heaven in Texas and didn't do anything.

If you're carrying a no-hit catcher, he'd better be able to handle the pitching staff and throw. Varitek can handle the pitching staff; Saltalamacchia? Who knows? And do you really think Varitek's going to stay healthy? Really?

Since they're about to get Adrian Gonzalez, they can carry a no-hit catcher, but if they were going to do that, they could've signed Gerald Laird. Laird can throw and handle the pitching staff. They made a mistake based on sentiment.

"The Captain"?


Mike Fierman writes RE Kenny Williams:

re Williams style- he called up Chris Sale the day they drafted him and and basically said "look kid, we drafted you for a reason and that reason is that we want you and we want to use you NOW, as in this year- so don't waste our time with pussyfooting around with signing" he signed, and as all know, he pitched.
he may not be stealth ninja, but I like his style.

Plus his ego is what it is; and that's not stealth either. It's "I'm gonna do what's right for the club not based on press coverage, but because I think it's right; and you'd better know I'm doing it for that reason and that I'm smarter than you. You don't like it? Too bad."

John Seal (West Coast Spiritual Advisor) writes RE Jason Varitek:

I once got great childish satisfaction at an A's-Red Sox joust by loudly asking Jason Varitek if his mom had sown the big 'C' on his jersey...oh, the dirty looks I got from the Red Sox fans in my section (and there are always plenty of 'em)!

The funniest thing about the "C" on his jersey is that it was done to soothe Varitek at not getting a no-trade clause in his contract.

As for the sheer audacity of making that kind of statement and braving the glares? Get....on.....Twitter.....NOW!!!!

The Prince needs a man of your wit, skills and fearlessness.

  • Sunday Lightning Preview:

Tomorrow there'll be the obvious Adrian Gonzalez news. Plus, the Red Sox and Angels had the sheer audacity to offer a contract to Mariano Rivera----I have some thoughts on the real reason behind this and it wasn't because they thought they'd get him.

Also, there's been talk of the "managerial/coaching trees" of successful field bosses. Um, it doesn't work that way most of the time. Not at all.

I'm scheduled to be on with SportsFan Buzz at mid-week too.

Begin evacuation proceedings.


She-Fan said...

You're right - neither A-Rod nor Jeter is the black-and-white hero/villain that they're often portrayed as. People love to paint these guys in broad strokes. The good news is that the Jeter deal is almost done (so it's been reported) and compromise was the reason, as it always is in negotiations.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

If the Yankees want you, they never let you get away over something as trivial as millions of dollars. Now that the deal is done..Blah! I still say he retires before he puts his .300 lifetime average in jeopardy. If that means leaving money on the be it.