"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Yankee Panky: Hodgepodge

An open letter to A-Rod’s handlers …

To whom it may concern:

In light of recent events where Alex Rodriguez has spoken to the media, in both controlled and extemporaneous settings, it is my belief that you should consider a gag order for your client/relative. (New York Times columnist Harvey Araton agrees.) Certainly, you’ve read the analysis of his press conference performance in this space and elsewhere, and are aware of the dent your client/relative’s credibility has taken. This past week, his comments about Jose Reyes would have been fine if he hadn’t added these 13 words: “I wish he was leading off on our team, playing on our team.” In fact, it spurred the Daily News to run a Top 10 list of dumbest A-Rod quotes last Wednesday.

Now, with the labrum tear in his hip — naturally, people will jump to conclusions that it’s steroid-related, despite reports to the contrary — there are greater questions to ponder. Why do the partial surgery as opposed to getting the whole thing done? Is this short-term solution best for the long term? What led to that decision? Is Alex in consistent pain? Does the hip hurt after extended periods of rest? Sleep? How about walking up and down stairs? While cortisone shots would help, would they have an adverse effect on the healing process? Inquiring fans want to know, provided he can tell us something without inadvertently offending someone and then issue an apology through a publicist. Maybe the Yankees don’t want him to speak and potentially say anything incriminating. Judging from the commentary of how the organization has handled his hip injury over the last 10 months, you have to wonder if Brian Cashman and the rest of the brass are not fully committed to nine more years of Alex Rodriguez in a Yankee uniform.

We know Alex is going to be a target. He’s the highest paid and arguably most talented player in professional baseball. In general, Yankee fans are concerned about his health, mainly because it’s impossible to replace the production he can provide in the lineup. He’s still the most important piece to their offense. We want to see Alex recover, get back on the field and help the Yankees win their first World Series since the turn of the century. What we don’t want to see is him speaking to the media, fumbling his words and giving us more reasons to liken him to Manny Ramirez with a different type of insanity. Some fans are already at that point.

Maybe Bernie Williams is right; time away from the team, and the game, will be good for him.

We hope so.

Will Weiss


• Harvey Araton espouses on the First Amendment, A-Rod, and Selena Roberts in a column published last Monday. For anyone entering Journalism School or interested in reporting and mass communication/media theory, this is a must-read. [Props to Diane Firstman for the recommendation.]

• With A-Rod out, the shift in Yankee coverage is shifting toward C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. This makes sense, since both will be under even more pressure to perform, now that the team will be without Rodriguez for an extended period of time.

• Though he’s not affiliated with the YES Network anymore on a full-time basis, Jim Kaat shared his thoughts on the PED issue with Kevin Kernan of the Post, and proved once again why he’s one of the classiest individuals you’ll ever meet.

• Maybe this is being nitpicky, but did anyone else notice that the flag patch on the right sleeve of the United States’ World Baseball Classic team’s uniforms had the stars on the wrong side? (It was in the upper right corner, instead of upper left.) Neither Dave O’Brien nor Rick Sutcliffe noticed it on the ESPN broadcast. And nothing I read as far as game coverage noticed the gaffe.

NEXT WEEK: What should the key stories be as we count down to Opening Day, and how would you like to see them covered? Send your submissions here.

Until then …


1 TheGreenMan   ~  Mar 9, 2009 11:43 am

FYI on the flag patch.


28-18. Wear of full-color U.S. flag cloth replica

a. General. All soldiers throughout the Force, regardless of deployment status, will wear the full-color U.S. flag cloth replica on utility and organizational uniforms.

b. Description. The colors of the U.S. flag cloth replica are red, white, and blue. The size is approximately 2 inches by 3 inches.

c. How worn.

(1) When approved for wear, the full-color U.S. flag cloth replica is sewn � inch below the right shoulder seam of the temperate, hot-weather, enhanced hot-weather, and desert BDU; the BDU field jacket; and the cold-weather uniform. If the SSI-FWTS is worn on the right shoulder of the utility uniform, the full-color U.S. flag cloth replica is placed ?; inch below the right shoulder sleeve insignia. The SSI-FWTS is not authorized for wear on organizational uniforms, unless indicated above.

(2) The full-color U.S. flag cloth replica is worn so that the star field faces forward, or to the flag's own right. When worn in this manner, the flag is facing to the observer's right, and gives the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward. The appropriate replica for the right shoulder sleeve is identified as the reverse side flag.

That last sentence there is the one that matters. When worn on the right shoulder sleeve, the flag is reversed as to give the effect of the flag flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward.

Michael Kay mentioned this during the exhibition game between Team USA and the Yankees on the YES Network.

2 Raf   ~  Mar 9, 2009 12:00 pm

Maybe this is being nitpicky, but did anyone else notice that the flag patch on the right sleeve of the United States’ World Baseball Classic team’s uniforms had the stars on the wrong side?

It was covered, I think in Team USA's first game. But I do remember hearing the announcers discuss it. Something about having the flag appear as it was fluttering while the player was running.

3 Raf   ~  Mar 9, 2009 12:10 pm

I shoulda hit F5 before posting...

4 Will Weiss   ~  Mar 9, 2009 12:12 pm

[1] and [2] Thanks for the clarification, all.

5 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Mar 9, 2009 12:41 pm

Araton, as a self-declared friend of Selena Roberts is not, because of that, invalidated from weighing in on the steroid story and 1st amendment issues. But neither are we prevented from taking what he throws out as emerging from that context.

He speculates that the four sources might have had 'altruistic' motives, saving the dear sport from shame. No evidence of it, we don't even know who these people are. He avoids entirely any discussion of fairness, in law or media if 1 of 104 is named, in complete breach of confidentiality. He doesn't consider any other motives for the leak, only the most benign. (What, a book coming out? Nah.)

He blasts A Rod for now using 'handlers' to deal with media while others (actually he does it too) blast him for speaking too much, too freely, too carelessly. Pick an ax, guys! Or do you prefer to chop away with everything, even in contradiction? If a man gets annihilated for his careless remarks, don't you think he's going to start being careful, especially when legal issues might be involved?

As for on-the-field, I am already tired of the 'given a break from A Rod' mantra, that Yankees may do better. Sure, they might do well. We're all hoping. We'll never know if it is better than it would have been, and Araton surely knows the win/loss stats from last year with him in and out. This is a guy covering the sport. Some intelligence might be requested, no?

I'm starting to think this is just pack mentality at its worst ... can WE bring him down? Can we ruin a career? Show power thereby? Some will remember how I was unhappy with fans booing LaTroy over the O'Neill number thing, I saw some of that as showing the power, too, and was disturbed that O'Neill didn't call it off.

I watch the media collapse here, and it feels like watching a train wreck. Kaat was a sweet, sad exception. Thanks for that link.

6 lentnej   ~  Mar 9, 2009 12:43 pm

Wow, I thought the recommendation of the Araton column would lead me to an intelligent piece in this mess. My mistake. Araton is more of the same. Whenever the press and players go at each other, people take sides. This has little (not nothing) to do with Roberts' sex. Tons of people are bashing Arod and tons more have already criticized all the "good ol boys" Araton mentioned.
I'm not a journalist but shouldn't "Serena Roberts is a good friend..." preclude Araton from writing in her defense? Especially when she needs no such help.

7 rbj   ~  Mar 9, 2009 12:48 pm

As for the labrum tear being due to steroids, it is due to Alex's FAI. I've got the same thing and I have never used steroids. Fixing it requires shaving off part of the bone and to do it in the traditional manner requires dislocating the hip. It is major surgery. There is a newer, arthroscopic procedure, but it's still rare. Even the less invasive process will take months of rehab. Better to have it done in November, after the WS.

8 Mattpat11   ~  Mar 9, 2009 12:52 pm

I don't think the first five quotes in that article are all that bad. The way A-Rod babbles, he could have done better than those.

9 Will Weiss   ~  Mar 9, 2009 1:23 pm

[7] If the Yankees knew about it so long ago, wouldn't it have made sense to shut him down in September, have the full surgery and let the full rehab take its course? Would the rehab timeline be the same?

10 rbj   ~  Mar 9, 2009 1:51 pm

[9] Yeah. That's what I don't get. I think Cashman said that Alex said he felt no discomfort so they didn't investigate further. Usually the doctors go with a conservative approach first, and surgery only as a last option.

Here's an article on it.

I've got the cam impingement type.

11 a.O   ~  Mar 9, 2009 2:05 pm

Will, thank you for this piece. All of these PR fiascos are driven by the fact that A-Rod clearly *thinks* that he's smart. He isn't, obviously. Really, everyone would be better off if he would just STFU.

@ 5 & 6: Well-put. The Times' coverage of the A-Rod saga has been simply embarrassing. They act more like gossip columnists than sports writers. And, in a city with plenty of sensationalist rags, I expected better from them.

My only question for Araton is this: If journalism is "largely about[] getting to the bottom of unsavory things that are not necessarily intended to be known," then why is the Times so good it when it comes to largely irrelevant things such as which athelete took took PEDs and totally incompetent at relevant matters such as uncovering why the US invaded Iraq? The appeal to journalistic integrity rings a little hollow when placed in the larger context of utter incompetency.

12 tommyl   ~  Mar 9, 2009 2:23 pm

[9] All I'm getting from this is that the Yankees medical or FO staff dropped the ball on this last year. The rest just seems like excuses. I mean, saying the player wasn't complaining as much is bs, Jeter says he's fine after he's broken a bone so you still make him get an X-ray. Players are often the worst people to ask about how they are doing. Hell, I skied for 3 days on a completely blown ACL because the snow was good. I convinced myself that it was just a pulled muscle (never mind the loud pop, excess of fluid and the inability to actually straighten my knee).

13 tommyl   ~  Mar 9, 2009 2:24 pm

[12] Forgot to finish. I wish they would just say: We made a decision at the time, we screwed up, it won't happen again. That's a lot better than this "treat the patient not the symptom" crap. If someone has cancer but they aren't in pain do you just let it be?

14 rbj   ~  Mar 9, 2009 2:33 pm

Via Peter:
"UPDATE, 2:08 p.m.: Gritty, gutty Brett Gardner has done it again. He just lined a two-run homer over the wall in right. It was his third shot of spring training.

2-1 Yankees."

Just imagine if Brett supplies the power needed from the third base slot.

15 tommyl   ~  Mar 9, 2009 2:35 pm

[14] Somehow I do not think Brett Gardner=Mickey Mantle/Joe DiMaggio. Though that would be nice. He also had a bunt single and went first to third on a Melky hit (who proceeded to get hung between 1st and 2nd). Ugh, Melky, continually running into stupid outs on the basepaths does not endear you to the coaching staff, especially when said idiocy was one of the reasons cited for demoting you.

16 Raf   ~  Mar 9, 2009 2:56 pm

If someone has cancer but they aren’t in pain do you just let it be?

I think that example is a bit extreme. Players have played with the hip condition, doctors have said that he is able to play with that condition. There have been players that have opted for rest/rehab over surgery.

This really isn't that big a deal. This definitely isn't Rickey "jaking it" with a torn hammy in '87.

17 cult of basebaal   ~  Mar 9, 2009 3:00 pm

wow, that araton article is just awful.

i can only imagine that it's a "must-read" because it's a clear deliniation of what not to do and what to avoid.

18 Shaun P.   ~  Mar 9, 2009 3:48 pm

FWIW, Shysterball has a very good takedown of Araton's column for those who are interested. Gotta say I agree with him.

19 Will Weiss   ~  Mar 9, 2009 4:04 pm

[17] I labeled it as a must-read as a talking point. I thought it was a good example, in points, of what to do as it pertains to First Amendment protection for journalists, but also what not to do. I found it to be a very interesting article from an academic perspective.

20 OldYanksFan   ~  Mar 9, 2009 4:51 pm

It is unfortunate(?) that as the Internet continues to grow, and more and more people have access to more and more TV stations, the MSM will simply become more and more exploitive, and less and less focused on real news, which also incidentally, actually takes some work to report on.

The junk MSM prints now is sort of like T&A. It's nothing new or important, but we can't help but look. Frankly, we would all be better off if it just went away, and all we discussed were real issues facing baseball and the Yankees.

21 Chyll Will   ~  Mar 9, 2009 5:53 pm

[19] I agree, and let me go further to add that...

Never mind. This has been talked about over and over again. Tabloids try selling personalities as opposed to facts. The problem we really have is people can't help themselves from buying the tabloids to either supremely agree with them or righteously rage against them (myself, included).

Here's a thought. What possible career would Jeter excel in outside of baseball? I don't see him as much of a public speaker, since he never really says anything interesting, controversial or weighted with import. As far as I know he's not a musician, like Bernie. He's never written a novel or an opinion that wasn't baseball related, he's not, I repeat, not a good actor (though there's always the option of taking acting classes) and as far as being an executive is concerned, I would equate him with Michael Jordan (admittedly at first glance).

I love Jeter as a player and I admire his handling of the media, but I don't get the worship. Jeter and sports will likely never be mutually exclusive, so why do writers treat him like a Renaissance Man? Because of their innate and unshakable need to embody the good guy/bad guy paradigm? And what does that in turn fulfill? Does this absolve us from our sense of inadequacy in the face of the talented wealthy?

All I can reckon is, all heroes become villains when they stop winning long enough to become one of us.

22 Chyll Will   ~  Mar 9, 2009 5:59 pm

[21] I will conjecture that Jeter would make a good life counselor or adviser, something like his Dad; especially since I doubt there would be any worry of breaking the confidentiality he would have with his patients or clients to anyone. Seriously. But even if he were simply running his charities, sports would be at the forefront. There's nothing wrong with that, mind you, I'm just saying that reporters need to not build up someone like Jeter to the public as something he's not; obviously there will be a time that the writers will tear him down in the face of a willing public, and we're just stupid enough to go along with that like it was all his fault anyway.

23 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Mar 9, 2009 7:10 pm

My guess is that last year marked a first stage in something as bad as the 'glorious Jeter, inept Rodriguez' thing, which is that as DJ hits 35 (is he there yet?) and skills show more obvious (and natural) decline, there will be more intense negative commentary on him. We'll hear more about him being selfish (never takes the time to heal, thinks he's so indispensable...) or that he's in the way by not being open to changing position more (or volunteering). We may even see beat writers noting he refused (sort of) back when the better ss came to town ...

In other words, the DJ as God angle will get tired as he's less godlike on the field, and the media will spin it dark. As I said, I think it has started - even here on the Banter.

24 Chyll Will   ~  Mar 9, 2009 7:56 pm

[23] Agreed. Now I lay it down to sleep >;)

25 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 9, 2009 8:07 pm

[21] It's obvious Jeter would be a gigolo in the south of France..

I love Jeter too but there is a bit of Ripken in him..

26 Will Weiss   ~  Mar 10, 2009 9:57 am

[20] You make a great point, OYF. It's a dilemma that has to be discussed in college classrooms now, as the editorial landscape shifts and standards across the board continue to lower.

[21] Good questions here, Will. I think the worship stems from having someone become a matinee idol on the most recognizable team in baseball. It was Ruth and Gehrig, then DiMaggio, then Mantle, then Reggie, then Mattingly. The torch had to go to someone, and the NY media anointed him. He fit the bill: comes from a good family, biracial, fulfilled his dream to play professional baseball for the New York Yankees. The MSM, for whatever reason, continues to romanticize baseball -- and I've had many arguments with esteemed colleagues on this topic, how baseball is NOT the national pastime anymore -- and looks for people to embody that romanticization. The adoration and adulation that comes now stems from his shift from young buck to elder statesman. He'll be 35 this year, which is only old if you're entering your 15th Major League season.

[26] There is a LOT of Ripken in Derek Jeter. They're virtually clones of each other in terms of public persona. The only thing missing is the outing of Jeter as being someone who cares more about himself than the team, which became the view of Ripken as he closed in on breaking Gehrig's streak.

27 FreddySez   ~  Mar 10, 2009 11:14 am

Will, I think what Harvey Araton espouses is Ms. Araton.

On the First Amendment, A-Rod, and Selena Roberts, he expounds.

28 Will Weiss   ~  Mar 10, 2009 12:24 pm

[27] Holy crap. I should have caught that. Thanks, Freddy.

29 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 11, 2009 6:34 am


espouses .... the Internet version of a "mail order bride" ? :-)

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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