Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Should He Stay or Should He Go?

Spring training can't come soon enough. I say that every year, but in these dog days of February, I really, really mean it.

Especially since we're reduced to scraping the bottom of the barrel for any semblance of baseball news. And this year we've perhaps scraped right through the barrel and have dug through a considerably amount of topsoil, since the amateur psychologists are now worried about whether or not Alex Rodriguez will opt out of his quater-of-a-billion dollar contract after this season.

In typical fashion, the AP's Ronald Blum painted Rodriguez in an unflattering way right in the lead of his story:

Alex Rodriguez sidestepped whether he plans to opt out of his record contract with the New York Yankees and become a free agent following this season.

J.D. Drew, like A-Rod a client of agent Scott Boras, used an opt-out clause to leave the Los Angeles Dodgers for a $70 million, five-year contract with the Boston Red Sox.

During a promotional appearance Tuesday, Rodriguez was asked what he thought about Drew's decision.

"I didn't follow the J.D. Drew situation," Rodriguez said. "My situation and my only goal is to win a world championship, and I'm going to take it day to day. And that's about it."

Those are the first four paragraphs of Blum's story. Rodriguez is asked about J.D. Drew's choice to opt out of his contract. Rodriguez replies that he didn't follow the story, because he's worried about taking care of his own business.

How does one infer from that that Rodgriguez is "sidestepping" questions about his plans to opt out of his contract? Nobody asked him if he was planning to opt out. Is is possible to "sidestep" a question that you haven't been asked?

And nowhere else in the article does Rodriguez say anything about his contract. He talks about winning the World Series and how much he's looking forward to this season. His agent blathers on about how Rodriguez might get more money if he were a free agent in this market. But his agent is Scott Boras, who is very good at both blathering and getting his clients scads of money in the free agent market, so that is to be expected.

But nothing of the sort is attributed to Rodriguez. This is sidestepping?

That verb ("sidestepped") is fraught with implication. It implies that Rodriguez is somehow being dishonest by not disclosing his plans for 2008.

But that's how the media on A-Rod watch rolls. They've developed a pleasing script about an emotionally fragile Alex Rodriguez, desperately unhappy in New York. It's easy to milk that script for a few more weeks by implying that Rodriguez is looking to escape.

It works even if Rodriguez doesn't actually say anything about leaving New York. But that's the nature of a script -- it puts words in people's mouths.

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