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Hey A-Rod, Get Off My Mound!

Posted on April 24, 2010 by Don Spieles
Pitcher Dallas Braden did not like A-Rod's shortcut.

Pitcher Dallas Braden did not appreciate A-Rod's shortcut.

In the sixth inning of the Yankee-A’s game on Thursday, Alex Rodriguez was rounding second and realized the play was moot and he jogged back to first.  The problem was, he crossed directly over the pitcher’s mound.  Dallas Braden, the now 3-0 A’s starter took exception to A-Rod’s lack of respect for baseball etiquette, and he told him so.  A-Rod, for his part, waved Braden off with a swat of his hand, much like a pesky fly.

So, what of this baseball etiquette thing. The term refers to the unwritten rules of baseball.  Examples of these include the idea that sliding hard is OK, but coming in with spikes high is not, stealing bases and bunting are OK, unless your up by 8 runs.  Another is be happy when you hit a home run, but don’t stand and watch it leave or expect to get someone plunked, and yet another is (according to Dallas Braden) don’t run across the pitcher’s mound.

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To casual fans of baseball, the ones who appreciate baseball but would rather watch the NFL or NASCAR, these sort of gentlemanly arrangements may seem silly.  Baseball purists, the die hard fans who’d watch a re-run single A game if it were the only baseball available, would argue that point.  There are many things that make the game of baseball the mystical thing that it is.  The fact that the bases are spaced the exact distance apart that, even 100 plus years after the rules were made, there are still daily “bang-bang” plays at first, is a good example of that almost divine aspect to America’s pastime.  Baseball etiquette is another.  The balance of competitive spirit and proud adherence to polite play is very important.

Is anyone really surprised that Alex Rodriguez is not in tune with the finer points of baseball manners?  Really, now that Barry Bonds is out of the game, is there any other player who is as self-absorbed as A-Rod?  You can’t really blame the guy.  If you’re arguably the best player in baseball and still manage to inspire the opinion in many that you are grossly overpaid, you would have an over inflated sense of self, too.

Braden’s best comment was his reference to Derek Jeter: “[A-Rod] should probably take a note from his captain over there,” Braden said.  It’s a great line for a number of reasons. First, he dead on.  Derek Jeter is thought of as one of the best shortstops to ever play the game and it is not because he is better than all the rest.  His positive reviews owe as much to his great personality, professional demeanor, and his respect for the game as they do to his above average talent.  The other point that makes Braden’s jab really awesome?  A-Rod can’t stand Jeter.  Never mind all the canned nonsense that Rodriguez says in front of the cameras.  He was a phenomenal shortstop with Seattle and Texas.  He came to the Yankees for dough and they moved him to third, immediately showing preference to Derek Jeter.   Now, A-Rod is known as a decent third baseman who hits a ton.

Speaking of A-Rod prepared statements, yesterdays exchange was a great example of how much Alex needs some serious prep time before he gets interviewed.  When Braden gave him the business during the game, A-Rod made a sour face and waved Braden off with his hand as if to say, “go on, get outta here!”  When interviewed, A-Rod told the reporters he didn’t even know Braden was talking to him.  He also went to one of the places that most player never go – insulting the adversary:  “I was a little surprised,” referring to the idea of not walking on the mound. “I’d never quite heard that. Especially from a guy that has a handful of wins in his career.”  In 50 starts, Braden is 17-21, so the comment could be construed as technically accurate.  Utterly classless, but technically accurate.

While his comments on those points were a load of bull and nasty, respectively, he did say something honest when he told reporters he’s never heard of any taboo about walking across the mound.  That is believable.  It’s the type of nuance that A-Rod has no interest in, what-so-ever.  He’s a guy who would spend all day long in the batting cage if it meant hitting better, but couldn’t care less about being a respectful player.  It is a matter of investment and return – there’s really nothing in it for A-Rod to play the game like the icon he is.  Being oblivious to tradition is fine because it just doesn’t come up all that often.

You can take nothing away from Alex Rodriguez in the way of talent effort.  The same goes for the whole Yankee team, as of late.  They have a ton of talent and most of the guys are real, honest grinders.  But A-Rod and the team in general have another thing in common – little personality.  The Yankees are hugely talented but seem like a group of really talented guys as opposed to a team.  A-Rod is one of the first guys you look for when drafting you fantasy team, but would you want your daughter to date him?  Would you be interested in sitting next to him for a long plane ride?

Good for you, Dallas Braden!  You and your handful of wins made a lot of people smile and nod on Thursday.


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