Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Lightning 'Rod (part 2)

The late Frank Zappa once called the sphere of rock music journalism a milieu of "people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, for people who can't read." Despite there being a kernel of truth attached to that statement I've never completely agreed with it. But then again, I'm obviously biased.

Mr. Z's obvious distaste for the press got me thinking what his opinion of the media handling the A-Rod controversy would've been.

Once you acknowledge the fact that what Alex Rodriguez did was wrong and that his reputation will unequivocally pay the price for his mistake, this saga is a sad travesty on so many levels. (I’m looking at you MLB and MLBPA.) But the sports media's barely contained glee at tearing him apart has convinced me that they are to true journalism what fast-food preparers are to five-star chefs. They way they've handled A-Rod's press conference this week, where he admitted to the media present his steroid use, is just reporting of the lowest kind.

How about this for a double standard:

[A-Rod] couldn't even admit that doing steroids was cheating. "That's not for me to determine." Couldn't he have said ANYTHING that came off as sincere?

- Mark Feinsand, NY Daily News

When A-Rod's teammate, pitcher Andy Pettitte, confessed his performance enhancing drug (PED) usage a year ago and faced the press in a similar fashion, he was asked if he considered himself a cheater. Pettitte answered, "That's for other people to decide."

What was Feinsand's take on this?

"Good for him...I found Pettitte to be his usual, gracious self, doing his best to answer just about every question that was posed to him."


For all their harping about what Rodriguez should've said or admitted to in addressing the media at this press conference, I've yet to hear/read any of them come clean about their patent dislike of him. The relentless and hypocritical way in which they've handled themselves and this story clearly shows it to be so. That he confessed, apologized and gave more details about his usage than Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa combined, was not enough in their eyes. In fact, I believe the only way the media would’ve reacted favorably to the A-Rod press conference was if he’d announced his retirement and returned the money he made during his stint in Texas. Short of that...

Reasonable people would agree that whenever matters of this caliber are brought to light and made public, it should be handled in a manner unlike what the vast majority of the media covering this story have shown. Simply put, the likes of Selena Roberts, the commentators on MLB Networks (especially the former players), Fiensand, etc. have proven themselves to be a disgrace, and make the hacks that populate political journalism look like upstanding statesman in comparison.


  1. Agreed. And I think the Pettitte/A-Rod "riddle" may be solved here

  2. tho i do also agree with your earlier assumption re: Pettitte being on 4 championship teams helped. (which dont explain why Giambi was so quickly forgiven)

  3. The only standard variable I can see in 50+ years of sports reading has always been: Is the player a good guy or an asshole? That seems the criterion. The coverage always seems to follow, regardless of a player's athletic blessings or physical geekitude.

    If the press likes you (see: Pettitte, Jeter, or '62 Mets) they will be forgiving of most everything. Be a dick, and they will turn on you at the first available opportunity, regardless of your stud or scrapper image.

  4. Yes, except A-Rod is not an asshole. Fake, needy, insecure, a bit too polished, perhaps. But he's no Clemens or Sheffield. As a matter of fact, to a few of the younger players he's befriended on his current team, A-Rod is the closest thing to a living, breathing god.

    But he IS the highest paid athlete in the world AND a Yankee, and in the eyes of many in the press and in the stands, that makes him fair game for extra scrutiny, deserved or not. This, of course, is compounded by being routinely considered heir apparent to the most cherished record in sports: the all-time HR total.

    Once again, he screwed up big time.

    But to quote ESPN's Keith Law, "[T]he entire story has reaffirmed my faith in the ignorance and pettiness of about 90% of the people who cover the game for a living."

  5. agreed - as pathologically incapable as A-Rod can be of saying the right thing in front of a mic, Ive never heard a single person say anything other than he's an exceedingly nice guy. Even Francessa, who hates everybody.