Alex Rodriguez is so hated in New York he can’t even show up early without taking heat for it. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
TAMPA — With two strikes against him and little margin for error, Alex Rodriguez still managed to find a way to irritate the Yankee brass when he arrived at spring training Monday — two days earlier than expected.
Wearing a green University of Miami workout suit, Rodriguez arrived in Tampa Monday morning, which was news to the Yankees, leaving Brian Cashman and the team’s media relations staff scrambling for answers.
The Yankees, who had expected him to show up on Wednesday, had no issues with A-Rod arriving on Monday, but team officials were fuming that he hadn’t alerted them to his plans.
“He’s learned nothing,” said one baseball executive. “He’s the same old guy. He just did what he wanted to do.”
This is return of A-Rod is already a huge disappointment.
I’m not talking about for him personally. I don’t have space to list all the ways I don’t care how it is for him. I mean that this is disappointing strictly for Bostonians. I mean, how can we enjoy A-Rod’s comeback when his own team hates him more than we do? When the atmosphere in New York is so toxic for the hamburger helper-gloved one that he can’t even show up to work early without them getting all cheesed off at him, where’s the fun in hating him?
Not that this is going to make him a sympathetic figure by any means, but when we’ve got to get in line behind his own organization and wait our turn to hate him, it does kind of take the bat out of our hands a little bit.
And the reason it’s so disappointing is that more than anything else in this town, we need a villain. For all the spoils of victory we’ve enjoyed these last 15 years, for all the titles, the unforgettable moments, the great players and the pyramid of skulls we’ve made from vanquished opponents, there is a void there.
Call it the law of unintended consequences. All that success has left the people of New England without a bad guy worthy of our true hatred.
A-Rod right now is a shadow of his former despicable self. He’s a relic of an earlier time. Hating him now is like hating Cuba. You know there’s some historical bad blood there and at one time it was a big deal to your parents’ generation, but now it’s just more sad than anything you can get worked up about.
At this point, who do we have left? Peyton Manning? Forget it. The Tom Brady vs. Manning debate has been settled for years. After this last Super Bowl, comparing the two would be like doing a “Tale of the Tape” between an ant and a shoe.
Lebron James? OK, I suppose. He is pretty insufferable. But, he’s in Cleveland now with the Celtics we don’t even know who’ll be on the roster by St. Paddy’s Day, much less next year. I’m afraid having a villain is a luxury reserved for championship contenders only. You don’t worry about the neighborhood bully when you can’t even get out of bed.
I guess the closest thing we have to a pro athlete we can rightly call a villain is P.K. Subban, I guess? But even that doesn’t work because there’s not a man, woman or child among us who wouldn’t carry him onto the Bruins’ roster on that giant throne they used to cart Xerxes around in “300.”
A-Rod was our last, best hope for a real wrestling heel-type of bad guy, and now he’s being vilified by his own people for the sin of coming to work two days early. If you’re a fan of good, quality, old fashioned hatred, this is a sad day indeed.