New York Daily News
HE’S A-ROLE MODEL!
Rodriguez could teach mates a thing or two
The current reality of Yankees World is this: Lonn Trost, a suit, the team’s chief operating officer, is more controversial than Alex Rodriguez. What a difference a year makes. When A-Rod arrives at Yankees spring training headquarters later this week he enters on the down-low, a media afterthought. Unless he is handing out baskets of free food, it’s hard imagining him being besieged by a crush of notebooks, cameras, and microphones.
Especially compared to last year when he was attempting a comeback after a seasonlong suspension related to the Biogenesis caper. A-Rod was a guy who was outed as a liar and cheater, a cat who dumped on the organization he plays for and sued the union that represents him. Rodriguez, with two surgically replaced hips was also trying to make it back against all odds.
A-Rod was the perfect combo package, a sour story that could turn sweet — a villain, with basketcase qualities, looking for
redemption. That story line has faded.
He comes to Tampa all but declared an “ambassador” of the game by USA Today. He spread the word and improved his image while showing some potential as an analyst on Fox in October during the playoffs and World Series. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who does lunch with the Yankees DH, went as far as saying A-Rod will someday become a oneman “conglomerate.”
Boss scribes would be better off asking A-Rod how to balance their stock portfolios. For the only thing inquiring minds really want to know is if he thinks, at the age of 40 going on 41 in July, he can come close to duplicating the offense — 33 home runs — he produced last season? Can Rodriguez stay healthy long enough to help the Yankees advance to the playoffs?
While his on-field performance is the priority, Rodriguez should be relishing his elder statesman role. He can use it to display his TV analyst skill and verbal delivery. He also can help this Yankees franchise, which still owes him millions, in another way.
No one in the organization has more experience dealing with media crisis, bad public relations, and moronic mistakes than Rodriguez. Although his own poor judgment, which included embracing terrible advice, prolonged his own controversy (and life as a devious, insincere phony) he appears to have finally landed on the right path — we think.
So, who better than A-Rod to advise Mr. Trost how to extricate himself from the mess he talked himself into last week on WFAN, when he all but called those loyal Yankees fans, who through resale on Stub Hub, or Sammy Scalps, purchased one of those high falutin, primo seats in front of the moat, riff-raff?
Who better than A-Rod, whose foot knows every contour of the inside of his own mouth, to tell Mr. Trost how to use the media effectively to smooth things over with an irate portion of the fan base who have branded him an elitist foof?
With all due respect, whoever is handling Trost’s PR hasn’t exactly turned this situation around.
Then there’s the other crisis hanging over the Yankees — (Fantasy) Rob Manfred’s decision on whether to suspend flame-throwing reliever Aroldis Chapman over domestic violence allegations. Let’s just say at this point the Yankees (i.e. Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi) take on the seriousness of this situation has been perfunctory at best. Maybe they are just waiting for Manfred’s final decision before “expressing” themselves.
A-Rod could come in handy here too. He had to react to a season-long suspension and still remembers the emotions that decision produced when he initially received it. If he even could, how did he keep himself, and his emotions, in check? What is the best thing someone can say after the commissioner puts you on ice for an extended period of time?
If Chapman winds up walking the plank, it would be beneficial for Rodriguez to offer advice and counsel on how to respond to the punishment. The last thing the organization needs is Chapman, even if he appeals, acting defiant or bad mouthing anyone in particular. A harsh reaction could have wide ranging ramifications, negatively impacting images and reputations of individuals and the organization.
Rodriguez traveled that l ow road. But unless a colleague wants to know how to deal with it, it’s not part of his world anymore. If anyone wants to believe he has found total redemption go right ahead. Still it does seem during the rest of his Yankees career ARod will be judged solely on his ability to produce offensively.
That’s what all the questions will be about. While “never” is not an option for us, it would be stunning if some controversy is still lurking around the corner to overtake A-Rod.
Now, the static is within the purview of Mr. Trost.
What a difference a year makes.