Saturday, April 2, 2016

Get comfortable with A-Rod, because he has become the Yankee Regis Philbin

Yesterday, A-Rod performed toastmaster duties on the subject of Chase Headley, telling the NY Trump & Post:

“I’m a big, big Chase Headley fan. I think that what I admire most about him, he’s always interested in getting better. He’s always asking questions. He’s always getting in early, staying late, studying film."

Close your eyes, and you can picture a member of the Channel 5 Eyewitness News team talking about her co-anchor over a backdrop of heartfelt guitar.

Listen: This was always A-Rod's greatest talent: His HRs... his Human Resources... yes, the ability to bullshit. It's why he survived NY, it's why he escaped the lifetime ban, it's why he's a part-time Fox Sports mushmouth, and it's why we will watch him blather for the rest of our lives - a Frank Gifford for the millennials - so comfortable behind the mic that he can do color on Olympic figure skating. Get used to him. For the rest of your life, he will provide smooth, say-nothing pitter patter - long after his last HR turns up on page 2 on a YouTube search for "inanity." Michael Strahan is in trouble. Kelly & A-Rod is coming. Some say after A-Rod's playing days are over, he'll coach. Yeah... maybe on "The Voice." Whether it's Cameron Diaz stuffing popcorn in his mouth, or that billion dollar Internet queen eating squab for lunch with him, he fills every camera frame.

Write this down: 2019 "Dancing with the Stars," winner... hands down.

 And don't get me wrong: More power to him.

This year's line on A-Rod - recently advanced by Sports Illustrated's "Nameless Scout" review of the team - goes this way: He is a great teammate, loved by players almost as much as hated by (non-Yankee) fans. Keep in mind there are reasons for colleagues to like A-Rod; he pushed the salaries envelope with that first interplanetary deal with Texas; he's been the whipping mule for performance enhancing drugs that uncaught users must feel twinges of guilt over - and frankly, he is said to be a guy who helps young players. Manny Machado wears 13 to honor Alex. Supposedly, A-Rod buys suits for raw-boned Yankee rookies when they arrive, and he tells them which fork to use at dinner.

I believe happy-chatty players play a distinct role with their teams: They deflect questions from those who hate doing interviews. Anybody who's ever seen Suzyn Waldman practically cry while interviewing one of her Yankees (each, a de facto son) knows that cream puffs exist in a universe beyond food. Still, some guys get nervous. Some can't hack talking into a mic. This can be the year of A-Rod - not necessarily the team leader in RBIs, but the team's Regis Philbin. And make peace with the bullshit. You will never be free of it. (Though you didn't need me to tell you, eh?)

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