Friday, December 7, 2007

The New York Times' A-Rod Hatchet-Job

The biggest reason why I was so convinced A-Rod wasn't going back to the Yankees was the notion that no reasonable person -- especially one with skin as thin as A-Rod appears to have -- would want to put up with the devastatingly bad press he endures in New York day-in and day-out. My thinking was that he would do almost anything to go play somewhere where he'll just be left alone to play ball. Of course I was completely wrong about that, which has taught me a lesson about trying to figure out what's going on in a ballplayer's head.

But I wasn't wrong about the press, and this morning's New York Times contains the latest broadside against the Yankees' third baseman. The charges? (1) A-Rod owns some low-rent apartment buildings in Tampa and some residents are complaining; and (2) A-Rod's charitable foundation has been surprisingly inactive. While both of these subjects are legitimate topics for discussion, the rhetoric employed and conclusions drawn by the author, Selena Roberts, are way over the top.

While the article features some complaints from a handful of residents of one of the several apartment complexes A-Rod owns, Roberts amps up the condescension, accusing Rodriguez of "profiting off struggling families," and claiming that "[t]he veneer of Alex Rodriguez’s real estate empire of working-class housing is staged to disguise his inner Mr. Potter." Rather than simply note that Rodriguez wouldn't comment on the story, Roberts goes ad-hominem and says "Repeated efforts to reach A-Rod through three layers of publicists — think booby traps around a precious stone — were unsuccessful."

The relative inactivity of A-Rod's charitable foundation provides another platform for Roberts' curiously charged rhetoric:
An examination of his high-rolling corporate side, as well as a glossy A-Rod Family Foundation short on largess, reveals a portrait of Rodriguez as a player about to enter Yankee Take II solely for business purposes, primarily as a branding tool. He emerges as an obsessive pursuer of cold, hard numbers on and off the bases, with serially disingenuous nods to his ever-challenged image.

The evidence that Rodriguez only cares about charity for image purposes? That he is, in Roberts' words, "a cheap tipper?" (1) that he hasn't donated much to his relatively inactive foundation; and (2) that Derek Jeter "while he may have I.R.S. issues," has given $2 million to his foundation in the past nine years. How this is an indictment of Rodriguez when, in the very next paragraph, Roberts herself notes that Rodriguez has given nearly $4 million to a scholarship fund and to build a practice facility at the University of Miami is beyond me. Indeed, the practice facility donation is used against Rodriguez, as Roberts derisively notes that "the practice facility is named Alex Rodriguez Park." How dare he.

Rodriguez may be a bad landlord (though it's worth noting that Roberts quotes only three of his tenants, two of which complain and one of which says that the place is clean), and his foundation may not be well-run or well-conceived, but nothing in even this hatchet job of an article justifies the rhetorical bombast and personal attacks made by Roberts. She and the New York Times obviously set out to kill Rodriguez and do so, in a manner that would make the Post and Daily News blush.

Alex: you still only have a deal in principle. You haven't signed anything. It's not too late to pack your things and head out west. The only thing you'd risk by doing so is some bad press. You're getting that anyway, in spades, so why not leave?


jnr98 said...

THe NY press sickens me. Their insatiable need to bring down everyone in their path in the name of "journalism" (read: selling more papers) is pathetic....and this from a NY'er.

When ARod opted out, I thought: Good move for him for getting out from these maggots. Of course, he came back. The maggots rejoiced and resumed their feeding.

Diesel said...

Oh. My. God.

I've long defended the Times against the often hyperbolic charges of "liberal bias," because people don't seem to understand that populism and liberalism aren't the same thing. But this article, in my mind, strikes at the last remaining claim the Times could make, which was that they strove to rise above the sensationalist fray.

jnr98, the real problem with this is that the Times isn't a local paper; it's the third most-read newspaper in the country (I think that's still the case).

Pete Toms said...

I'm in agreement with the rest of you on the tenor of this piece.

For fun, whose foundation has done / is doing less? The shady Winfield Foundation that was a big part of the Spira / Steinbrenner / Winfield soap opera? Oh for the good ol days - Hank ain't George yet! Or the present day A-Rod Family Foundation?

Is this sexist? I think these foundations are the play toys of pro athletes WAG's. I don't think the jocks are "engaged" on these matters. That's not to say that these foundations don't support noble causes.

Ok, # 2's foundation is more generous. Isn't he getting a free pass on avoiding taxes ( well, we'll have to see about that ) in NY state? Wouldn't the latter number greatly exceed the former?