Sherman writes that while Rodriguez has often been his own worst enemy, he notes:
...at some point legitimate critique of Rodriguez has been usurped by something close to piling on. He is the fish in the barrel and shooting at him has become a hard-to-break habit. It feels like the fun, easy game that anyone can play.It's 2011, and Sherman just realized this? (I thought the criticism went over the top in 2006, when his paper blamed A-Rod sunbathing in Central Park for the Yankees losing a game to the Red Sox.) But better late than never, I guess. Of course, Sherman doesn't admit the obvious truth when it comes to the media -- that writing about A-Rod sells papers and generates page views. There's a reason sportswriters are addicted to yakking about him!
Sherman also criticizes Hank Aaron for taking potshots at A-Rod in the Post a few weeks ago (I wrote about the unfair criticism at the time.) Aaron said, among other things, that "Rodriguez has got too many irons in the fire, right now. I think his head's not level enough to the point where he can have the kind of year that it takes in order to go by all of the records in the book."
Again, Rodriguez is an easy target on many things, but focus on baseball is not one of them. His harshest detractors would concede Rodriguez obsesses on preparation; that he has the mentality of a baseball gym rat. If you think Cameron Diaz, for example, is keeping him from being ready for the 2011 season, you are wrong.I agree with Sherman, but I wonder why it took three weeks for somebody else in the media to acknowledge that Aaron's criticism was unfair.
Sherman also criticizes "Player X "in the upcoming ESPN the Magazine for disparaging Rodriguez when saying that Albert Pujols deserved to make more than him. Of course Pujols does -- he's been the most underpaid guy in baseball for years now. (An aside --Sherman has another piece on Player X firing at Scott Boras -- and Boras firing back.)
I think Sherman's column today is a good and fair one. But I wish he, and some of his brethren in the media, would take their share of responsibility for making Rodriguez a baseball punching bag. Sure, A-Rod did bring some of it on himself by saying and doing dopey things (there's an article in the Wall Street Journal about the Yankees' media training for players, where he wryly acknowledges that he "wouldn't be the ideal guy to ask" about how to handle the media.)
But the press also has a lot to do with it. There are a lot of fans who form their opinions on players based on what they read in the papers. And players know that they can pretty much say whatever they want on A-Rod, and get lauded for it in the press, no matter how unfair. Dallas Braden, I'm looking at you! The media should be more responsible with the power they hold, because the perceptions they make on players are hard to change.
Another example of the power of the press -- after the way the media has lionized Derek Jeter in this town, why should anybody be surprised that he topped a poll as New York's all-time greatest athlete and beat out Babe Ruth? The press has written about Jeter for years as if he deserved that spot. Heck, Mike Lupica didn't bat an eye when Jeter's agent Casey Close compared Jeter to Babe Ruth in an interview! Sure, blame the fans for being short-sighted in that poll. But the press deserves their share of blame for miseducating them, too.
What do you think? Tell us about it!