Unlike Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez will have nearly four years to show why a man who lied, cheated, and tried suing a sport that made him mega rich, belongs in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Now that he’s a member of ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” team, Rodriguez will have, at least, three hours every Sunday night in primetime to show America what a swell guy he is —and drop a few names while he’s doing it.
While the ever growing number of A-Rod’s media lackeys, toadies, and sycophants, rave about his performance and say he’s doing TV for his love of the game, there is no doubt in what’s left of our mind his primary reason for making the commitment to ESPN is to lobby a group of baseball writers who already are casting their HOF ballots for skunks who cheated the game. He will also be preaching to Valley of the Stupid Gasbags who he desperately needs to serve as his personal echo chamber.
Baseball fans will have a hard time avoiding A-Rod this season as he expands his TV work.
Memories are short, lenient too. All the fine work of reporters who covered the steroids era and eventually uncovered the cheats is seemingly forgotten. It has been, replaced by what is now more “important” journalism, like A-Rod’s relationship with J-Lo or A-Rod engaging in a late night TV “hitting contest” with a toddler. Credit Rodriguez with a successful image makeover. An image transplant that is fooling some of the people all of the time.
The ESPN gig will only continue to enhance his repaired façade. Look, Rodriguez isn’t going to sit every Sunday evening with Jessica Mendoza and Matt Vasgersian and say “guys I belong in the Hall of Fame.” But he is going to have every opportunity to show his knowledge of the game, his love of a game he cheated, and his reverence for baseball’s history (no doubt there will be minimal talk about the PED era). Also, he will display his made-for-TV sense of humor, which is sometimes self-deprecating.
A-Rod will be joining ESPN’s ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ crew this season as ex-Yank continues to rehab image.
(Al Messerschmidt Archive/AP)
Get it? By hiring Rodriguez (The Bristol Faculty likely ran the idea past Rob Manfred) ESPN has anointed him the game’s Grand Ambassador, baseball’s primetime voice on its exclusive Sunday night package. He will have until 2021 and beyond (if he isn’t voted in on the first ballot) to convince the voters his cheating the game is really just a blip on the radar.
Like the Fox suits who hired him for their postseason studio show, ESPN honchos don’t care about A-Rod’s sleazy past. They’ve hired a former superstar who can yak and carries controversy with him. That creates buzz for “SNB.” The suits cherish the noise, which was not provided by Mendoza or Aaron Boone.
It’s not a given that A-Rod will succeed every summer Sunday. His appearances in Fox’s booth were not as good as he was in the studio, where he was highly scripted. However, I must give him credit, A-Rod has gotten over on an audience who thinks he is for real. They don’t see the phony side of him.
A phony who is looking to use a TV gig to cash his ticket to Cooperstown.
NO BASERS CLUB
Comparing Bob (Rapping Roberto) Costas’ integrity and editorial skills to A-Rod’s is like comparing Picasso to the cat selling Velvet Elvis in front of Graceland.
The close proximity of Rodriguez getting the ESPN gig and NBC Sports announcing Costas won’t be appearing during its Super Bowl pregame is about all, when it comes to journalism, they have in common.
While the spin was heavy from both NBC and Costas, it’s clear that his preaching about the dangers of football on and off the air for quite a while, led both the network and the NFL not to want him participating in their happy Fizzies Party on Feb. 4.
After all, why open the show up with Costas commenting on the realities of the game when there are safer bets like a watered-down Cris Collinsworth, who has lost his appetite for engaging in controversy, or The Bland Brothers, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, who stick to X’s and O’s.
What can anyone expect from NBC Sports? Why bring any truth to the table when you are televising the world’s biggest game show?
With a cast of over-paid game show hosts.
GROSS SHARK JUMPING
If WFAN and ESPN 98.7 are using TV simulcasts to make the audience uncomfortable they are succeeding.
Both outlets produced cringe inducing moments. In one case, on FAN’s morning show (televised by CBSSN), it was the subject. On ESPN-98.7’s (YES) afternoon show the pictures were nauseating.
The ESPN thing was about host Michael Kay (he also is the TV voice of the Yankees) losing a bet and having to eat a Whopper. Kay’s problem: He claims he has no use for mayo, tomato, raw onions, ketchup and pickles, which are all on the burger. With a garbage can at the ready (in case he had to vomit) Kay took a bite of the burger and gagged on every subsequent bite nearly upchucking a couple of times (could you see Mel Allen, Red Barber or Frank Messer engaging in such buffoonery?).
This was a sad sight. We actually felt sorry for Kay. But if he was getting sick, imagine how viewers felt. This was a disgusting display but we kept on watching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow — Kay puking.
But it never happened.
On FAN, the subject turned to Gregg Giannotti, under questioning by N.J. Esiason, discussing his therapy sessions. A short dose of this stuff was cool, but N.J.E. kept up the interrogation causing the portly Giannotti to squirm in his seat. Since “Gio” knows where his bread is buttered, he wasn’t about to tell Norman to knock it off.
All these Gasbags showed they are willing to do anything for ratings — anything.
While FAN’s new “The Afternoon Nap” isn’t going to make anyone forget Mike (Sports Pope) Francesa (we didn’t expect it would), it is starting to round into shape.
One thing that is different and potentially must-listen are “TAN’”s elongated interviews. Not only are the interviews longer (they went an hour with Brian Cashman), but the crew (Chris Carlin, Bart Scott, Maggie Gray) replay questions and analyze the answers. This is a fresh approach.
The roles of the new team are still forming but Gray’s personality, often feisty, is emerging. The Fellas went up against her take that Kristaps Porzingis is not soft, that the Knicks are just being cautious with him. While Scott and Carlin made a good case, Gray countered them at every turn. Nice radio.
Check them out. Decide for yourself.
It never changes at MSGulag. After going on the Warriors pregame show and chastising Porzingis for not playing that night against Golden State, Walt (Clyde) Frazier rolled back the comments saying he didn’t know Porzingis’ knee was bothering him. Methinks someone in the Knicks/MSG PR department told Clyde to re-think his commentary and change it… For a bunch of Gasbags who have so many problems with the Mets, FAN yakkers sure love talking about them. FAN is the place to listen to Yankee games but it is still the home of neverending Mets talk… Why is it the Valley of the Stupid? It’s the only place where Gasbags and callers spent hours complaining about the Empire State Building being lighted in green, red and blue to honor the Pats and Eagles — moronic.
* * *
DUDE OF THE WEEK: ALY RAISMAN
The moment she finished her extraordinary victim impact statement in a Michigan courtroom last week we were moved to place her in this space. Facing her tormentor, a despicable former USA Gymnastics physician, Aly showed determination and strength that was inspiring. Hopefully her words, and the words of her fellow gymnasts who were also abused by this creep, will spark real change, change that is desperately needed.
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: DARYL MOREY
Holy Morey, doesn’t an NBA general manager of an organization firing on all cylinders have enough to do without tweeting about how it’s “just a matter of time before the NFL is basically irrelevant?” Guess the Rockets GM is a subscriber to the “kick ‘em when they are (allegedly) down” theory. Instead, he might want to comment on the soap opera that is the NBA. His commentary would be much more entertaining — and credible.
What Jeff Hornacek said: “We’re not going to comment on that stuff (why Joakim Noah left the team). Personal reasons, he won’t be with us for a couple of games.”
What Jeff Hornacek meant to say: “I have no idea why Jo left. I also have no idea why this team can’t play defense.”