On April 22nd, the Yankees faced off against the Athletics at the Coliseum in Oakland. In the 6th inning of that game, Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) went from first to third on a foul ball. Not an atypical event to occur during the course of a game. However, between the extreme exhaustion from running first-to-third and his fundamental grasp of basic mathematical concepts, Rodriguez was able to calculate that the shortest distance from third base back to first was a straight line. Typically I would applaud this kind of mathematical reasoning from an athlete. However, A-Rod’s path of least resistance took him directly across the pitcher’s mound. Right over top of where Dallas Braden does his work.
Some of you reading this may not be big baseball fans and may be saying to yourselves, ‘So? Whats’ the big deal?’ I’m going to try and put this into perspective for you. For the purpose of this analogy, I would like to equate the pitcher’s mound to a surgical room in a hospital. The room is set up specifically for the surgeons who are operating there. Their tools and supplies are arranged to their liking and it’s very important for the success of these surgeons to respect the sanctity of the room. Now, let’s say there’s a doctor watching the operation from up above the room and he sees that the cafeteria is directly across the room. Due to his extreme hunger and because it’s shorter, without any consideration for the operating doctors, the hungry doctor walks right through the room in the middle of an operation, paying no heed to the other doctors doing their work. In the medical sense, that scenario is probably unsanitary and breaking the Hippocratic Oath in some way shape or form. But I digress.
You can create your own analogy that’s probably much better than mine, but the point of the exercise is to demonstrate that what Alex Rodriguez did was uncouth in the least and outright disrespectful at its worst. Let’s stop for a minute and imagine Roger Clemens on the hill instead of a soft-tossing Dallas Braden. Or how about Randy Johnson? Roy Halladay. I dare say that I don’t think Rodriguez would prance right across their workspace like his shit didn’t stink if the next time up he had to face a 95 mile per hour buzz saw.
During the game and after the game, Braden lambasted Rodriguez for his bush behavior. Rodriguez claimed ignorance in the whole ordeal (which is never an acceptable excuse anyways). He said he wasn’t knowingly breaking any unwritten rules. I may sincerely believe that if Rodriguez didn’t have a history of repetitive, bush-league behavior. Like swatting the the ball out of the pitcher’s mitt trying to hoof out a single. Or when he yelled, “Ha!” at the third baseman as he rounded third, forcing him to drop the ball. He does things that Little League coaches teach their players not do out of respect for the game and the other competitors. He’s a professional. He knows better. And if he seriously doesn’t, he should use some of that 250 million dollar contract to hire an etiquette coach to help him learn how to not behave like a socially maladjusted teenager.
Now, here comes the fun part of this story. After the game, when further called out by Braden, Rodriguez said, “He just told me to get off his mound. I was a little surprised. I’d never quite heard that. Especially from a guy that has a handful of wins in his career … I thought it was pretty funny actually.” Yep. A guy with a handful of wins. So just because he only has a handful of wins, that gives Rodriguez the okay to behave like a douche.
And now for the poetic portion. On May 9th, Mother’s Day, Dallas Braden again took the hill against a strong Tampa Bay Rays squad and proceeded to throw only the 19th perfect game in the history of baseball. 109 pitches after starting the game, Braden embraced his grandmother (who raised him through the second half of his life after the loss of his mother) in an endearing hug that made grown men weep. It’s poetic because, in the context of baseball, perfect games are rarer, more impressive feats than most of the records (achieved through the help of performance enhancing drugs, mind you) that Rodriguez will achieve in his career.
In the words of Dallas’s grandmother Peggy Lindsey: stick it, A-Rod.