Last night, Alex Rodriguez made some headlines by offering up an innocuous compliment to his fellow Dominican team member Jose Reyes. “I wish he was leading off on our team or playing on our team. That’s fun to watch,” A-Rod said. Warn the children! Sound the alarms! Make a mountain out of a molehill!
Immediately, the ever-objective media went into overdrive. Peter Abraham accused A-Rod of stirring up past history with Jeter. Marc Craig at the recently-decimated Star Ledger pondered the same thing. I’m sure the News and Post had some equally inflammatory coverage of this statement.
In reality, A-Rod didn’t say anything newsworthy, and he never insulted Jeter. In fact, as iYankees notes, he may have insulted Johnny Damon, but no beat reporter has mentioned that. After all, A-Rod said he wants Reyes leading off, and that role is filled by Johnny Damon. Rodriguez never mentioned that short stop position. He also never used the phrase “instead of” in reference to Jeter or anyone else on the Yanks.
But wait! There’s more. A-Rod said something else after those two sentences. “Anytime you have that type of speed… I mean, we have a guy in Gardner that’ll be fun. That’s probably the most fun you can have, watching those guys run.”
A-Rod is acknowledging what any normal baseball fan in New York knows: Jose Reyes is a young and exciting player who could emerge as one of the game’s top offensive forces and would be a contributor on any team. He has the rare mix of speed and power and has shown the ability to get on base at a rate that would allow him to fully exploit both skills, and gosh, he’s also fun to watch. Let’s put A-Rod in the stockade just for thinking it, and let’s leave off the part of the quote that contextualizes it too.