He's also widely disliked, not just by many fans, but also by other players.
Their hostility toward A-Rod deepened recently when he violated an unwritten rule of the baseball fraternity. Rodriguez made an opposing player think that player's teammate was catching a flyball as Rodriguez ran the base path. His decoy wasn't even defended by other members of the Yankees.
I bring all this up because Rodriguez's continuing unpopularity, even in New York in a year when he finally seems to be performing closer to his massive potential, seems to be behind an example of a kind of journalism that I think is simply despicable.
On May 30, The New York Post featured an article, complete with photographs, about the married Yankee third baseman spending a night on the town with another woman, hitting a strip club. "A-ROD'S A YANKEE DOODLE RANDY: HITS A STRIP JOINT WITH TORONTO BABE," the headlines screamed.
Since then, the tabs have been having a field day, if you'll forgive the pun, with Rodriguez's off-field exploits.
God knows I don't favor rescinding the Sixth Commandment, "You shall not commit adultery."
But what compelling public interest is served by The Post or any other publication giving evidence purportedly demonstrating that Rodriguez has been unfaithful to his spouse?
None that I can see.
What The Post has done to Rodriguez (and his wife) is really no different from what a prominent pornographer proposes to do to high level US politicians. As The Washington Post reported a few days ago:
Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt offered $1 million Sunday to anyone who could provide proof of an illicit sexual encounter with a high-ranking government official.Granted, high-level government officials could compromise sensitive national security information by adulterous relationships.
Granted too, that officials displaying a longterm pattern of an inability to keep their marriage vows might reasonably be suspected of a similar inability to fulfill their oaths of office. Voters deserve to know that their public officials can be counted on. Or that their officials don't habitually engage in potentially compromising behavior.
But Flynt, like The Post in the case of Rodriguez, proposes to do nothing other than embarrass and humiliate people who, like the rest of the human race, are imperfect and may have, at some time in their lives, sinned or made mistakes. (Duh! Ya think?)
Winston Churchill was one of the most important political figures of the last century. His leadership and inspirational rhetoric were indispensable for both his own United Kingdom and our United States as the world faced seemingly certain imprisonment at the hands of the Axis Powers. Not known at the time was that, as a young man, Churchill was once unfaithful to his beloved wife, Clementine. Churchill always regretted what he had done and adored his wife. Had some "enterprising" tabloid "journalist" or a blogger with a camera phone found and published evidence of that single indiscretion, Churchill's political career would have likely ended and the world would have been denied his leadership.
Alex Rodriguez isn't a high government official, of course. That only makes The Post's coverage of his alleged Toronto womanizing even more despicable. His night on the town may display massively poor judgment. It may evidence adultery. But he isn't making decisions about whether or not to go to war, how to combat world poverty, or what should be done about immigration policy. His night out doesn't threaten to cloud or compromise what happens when it comes to world peace.
But neither would a past illicit affair on the part of such an official, as Flynt wants to expose. (I wouldn't be so upset with Flynt except that this past week, with Chris Matthews taking a day away from his anchor chair, MSNBC's Hardball gave Larry a long time to talk on what should be a legitimate news show. That's like a sober uncle giving a junkie a few thousand bucks to engage his habit!)
As the overwrought and obsessive coverage of Paris Hilton's re-incarceration today demonstrates, fluff is taking up an ever-growing proportion of what once passed for journalism. If Hilton's case results in people feeling that when justice gets miscarried--as it surely was when the Los Angeles county sheriff decided unilaterally to release here--it can be righted, as it certainly was when she went back to jail--the coverage will turn out to be a good thing.
But I can see no good in the game of gotcha journalism recently played by The New York Post or by the paper's soulmate, Larry Flynt.