When Alex Rodriguez looks back on his early Twitter days, he's not going to be able to say he wasn't warned.
The headline on CBS Sports: "This is probably a bad idea: Alex Rodriguez has joined Twitter."
The headline on Yahoo! Sports: "Alex Rodriguez, welcome to Twitter, a place you should never have come."
These headlines now sound oddly prophetic. Barely a moment after the world first realized the New York Yankees third baseman had joined Twitter, he's already in trouble. In a way that only he could, A-Rod has unwittingly used Twitter to further cement his status as baseball's single biggest lightning rod.
Consider this tweet that A-Rod sent out on Tuesday:
Rodriguez has been recovering from a second hip surgery since January, but now it sounds like he's getting really close to making his return. You can't blame him for being excited or for having the impulse to share his excitement with the world. That's what people tend to do these days.
There's just one problem: The news A-Rod was so eager to share may not be true. And even if it is, it's not his to share.
It's the Yankees' to share, and they, not surprisingly, are ticked off.
Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York spoke to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, and it sounds like he stopped just short of blowing smoke out his ears.
"You know what, when the Yankees want to announce something, [we will]," Cashman said. "Alex should just shut the f--- up. That's it. I'm going to call Alex now."
And just like that, A-Rod is in trouble again. Meanwhile, you, me and everyone else are sitting here going, "Golly, is this the most A-Rod thing to ever happen?"
It just might be, for it really is that typical.
Listen, there are far worse ways A-Rod could have gotten himself into trouble on Twitter. He didn't pull an Ian Stewart and throw his employers under the bus. He didn't say something he shouldn't have to a trolling fan. He didn't tweet anything incriminating.
It's possible A-Rod simply misread the situation. Maybe he was confused by Dr. Kelly's opinion that he's ready to play in games, thinking it was an approval.
Either that, or Dr. Kelly did issue a go-ahead, and it just never crossed A-Rod's mind that a doctor's approval and his bosses' approval are two different things.
Whatever the case, if A-Rod is guilty of anything here, it's simply being aloof. There are worse crimes than that.
However, that's also what makes this silly little controversy just so darned typical. "Aloof" has long been one of the best adjectives for Rodriguez, and he's gone and proved that the shoe still fits as perfectly as ever.
As Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra noted earlier this month, Rodriguez has often been portrayed by the media as a guy obsessed with his image; a prima donna who wants nothing more than to be liked.
A-Rod's not the only athlete like that, but there's something different about him. For a guy who apparently cares so deeply about his image, he's never given any indication that he actually has a clue how to take proper care of it.
Rodriguez earned himself a ton of ill will when he came clean in 2009 about his juicing during his Texas Rangers days, and it's hard to imagine him having any fans or defenders left if he ends up getting busted in the Biogenesis scandal.
But it's not just the PED stuff that speaks to A-Rod's aloofness. He's a master at inadvertently shooting his public perception in the foot by doing, well, other things. For other professional athletes, Rodriguez is a living, breathing life lesson for how not to be likable.
For example, if you want people to like you, be mindful of with whom you hang out in public. For that matter, it's a good idea to stop spending time with people who your bosses don't want around, especially if they have ties to the seedier corners of your past.
It's also recommended that you stay out of high-stakes poker games that are (allegedly) drug-addled and violent. And if you must have fun at the ballpark, it's better to be spotted trying to spit seeds in a cup across the dugout than flirting with a couple of spectators.
We know about these things because the microscope is on A-Rod around the clock. He should understand that by now, and he should also understand that he's going to be scrutinized for even the littlest things. Yet he's always finding ways to show that he just doesn't get it.
Judging from his tone, Cashman was thinking the same thing. Or something along those lines. His comments to Marchand definitely had a "Here we go again" vibe to them.
If he hasn't already, Cashman will let A-Rod know that he made a mistake in tweeting about being cleared for games. One wonders if Cashman will also let him know about the mistake he made before that one—which was joining Twitter in the first place.
It's easy to speculate that A-Rod joined because he'd heard all about professional athletes becoming fan favorites on Twitter, and he figured it was worth a shot.
But professional athletes also get themselves in trouble on Twitter. Frequently, in fact, even when they're not trying to.
A-Rod being A-Rod, it's no wonder his presence set off alarm bells. Everyone could see trouble on the horizon.
Everyone except A-Rod, that is.
If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter.
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