Monday, July 18, 2005

Respect For A-Rod

I'll be the first to admit I was among the toughest on Alex Rodriguez after his first season as a Yankee fell short of unfair expectations. It even extended into the first month or two of this season. Then, all of a sudden, he seemed to stop pressing. I don't think it's much of a coincidence, but when he announced that he was in therapy and donated $1 million to the mental health branch of the Children's Aid Society, he seemed to be relieved of some kind of burden and started tearing the cover off the ball. He's been clutch and a lot more relaxed this season, on and off the field. I genuinely root for him now.

So while I'm not sure how I feel about A-Rod planning to play for the Dominican Republic for the World Baseball Classic (only because I'm selfish and would want him on the U.S. team), ESPN Page 2 columnist Alan Grant wrote a really cogent, brilliant piece on A-Rod's supposed attempt to "keep it real." I'm not sure I agree about that, or about Ron Artest going after the "offender" (replays seemed to indicate he went after the wrong guy), but the remainder of the article offers excellent analysis on what fans really want from their athletes and entertainers -- and it's not always about keeping it real.