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5.31.2007

As if we needed further confirmation 

In case anyone was wondering whether or not Slappy "Alex" Rodriguez is a total chump, here is further proof:


Alex Rodriguez helped the New York Yankees end their five-game losing streak with his bat -- and his mouth.

Rodriguez distracted Toronto third baseman Howie Clark by shouting at him on a key popup in the ninth inning, touching off arguments all over the field, and the Yankees beat the Blue Jays 10-5 Wednesday night.

"I just said, 'Hah!' That's it," Rodriguez said. "Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."

It definitely worked in rankling the Blue Jays.

"The thing about the Yankees, one of the reasons they're so respected, is they do things right. Always have," manager John Gibbons said. "They've got a lot of pride and a lot of class. They play the game hard.

"That's not Yankee pride right there," he said. "That's not the way they play. I thought it was bush league."

Rodriguez hit an RBI single with two outs in the ninth that made it 7-5. Jorge Posada followed with a high infield pop and Rodriguez ran hard, cutting between Clark and shortstop John McDonald.

Replays showed Rodriguez shouting something, and Clark backed off at the last second. McDonald was only a few steps behind Clark, but couldn't make the catch and ball dropped for an RBI single.

"I don't know what my intention was," Rodriguez said. "I didn't say, 'I got it' or anything like that."

Clark claimed Rodriguez called for the ball.

"I heard a 'Mine' call and so I let it go," Clark said. "It wasn't Johnny Mac. What do you do? It makes you mad."

After the play, McDonald started jawing with Rodriguez, and third base umpire Chad Fairchild got between them.

Gibbons came out to argue, and exchanged words with Rodriguez and third base coach Larry Bowa before leaving the field as plate umpire Eric Cooper intervened. Rodriguez stayed on the bag with a smirk.

As Jason Giambi stepped up to hit, he seemed to get into it with catcher Jason Phillips and Cooper settled them down.

Giambi followed with a two-run single. When the game ended, many of the Blue Jays stayed on the bench, staring at Rodriguez and the Yankees.

Rodriguez brushed aside the Blue Jays' anger, saying the Yankees were "desperate" for a win.

"Honestly, I couldn't care less," he said. "They have their opinions. We're looking not to be swept."

Clark said he'd never seen -- or heard -- that play before. "This is my 16th season and it's never happened once," he said.

Rodriguez said he's often heckled by opposing players.

"That play happens to me three or four times a week, except it's not at third base, it's over in foul territory by the dugout," Rodriguez said.

The Yankees didn't quite know what to think.

"I wasn't sure that was allowed," outfielder Johnny Damon said. "If it is, maybe we'll keep on doing it."

Said manager Joe Torre: "I don't know what to feel for it. It's not like he said, 'I got it.'"


An act like this is pretty clearly offensive interference and is illegal according to the Official Baseball Rules:


INTERFERENCE
(a) Offensive interference is an act by the team at bat which interferes with, obstructs, impedes, hinders or confuses any fielder attempting to make a play. If the umpire declares the batter, batter- runner, or a runner out for interference, all other runners shall return to the last base that was in the judgment of the umpire, legally touched at the time of the interference, unless otherwise provided by these rules.


I think these kind of antics happen (and get punished) all the time in Little League. I figured that by the time players reached the big leagues they knew better than to try stuff like this, but I guess not.

More generally, in team sports it is expected that teammates have the right to communicate verbally with each other. For example, in the NFL it is illegal for a defensive player to simulate a quarterback's cadence in an effort to induce a false start.

Comments:

Poor A-Rod can't catch a break when he cheats. The Cincinnati outfielder puts the ball into his knocked-out teammate's glove? Smart play. Pedroia misses the tag by a yard and acts like he gets him and the ump calls him out? Heads up. &c.

Maybe he shouted "Noonan!"

That being said, it is a chickenshit play. Some old guys do it in my over-40 pickup basketball game and it always seems lame.
 


Exactly what is bush-league and what isn't is somewhat arbitrary and up to the general public. Intentionally fouling in a basketball endgame is illegal but considered a legitimate tactic. Peeking back at the catcher is legal but usually earns the batter an earful of stitched leather.

With that in mind, I think it's telling that A-Rod's teammates are giving him at best quarter-assed defenses of his actions.
 


I just thought those blonde masks some of the Sox fans were wearing at Fenway were hilarious...
 


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