We all know the controversy surrounding Alex Rodriguez and saw the situation escalate to a new level Sunday night on ESPN. A-Rod was treated how you’d expect a rival player to be treated on the road, only much worse.
The polarizing Yankees third baseman was drilled by Ryan Dempster in the second inning, and Fenway Park roared with thunderous applause as if the team had just won the World Series. Seldom has there been such a reaction to a player getting hit, and one has to consider the last time anyone saw this kind of reaction towards a hit by pitch.
However, the way Alex was treated yesterday at Fenway was simply pitiful. I understand why the Red Sox fans were cheering—and A-Rod put himself in that situation—but the reaction of the fans to the HBP just was not merited. What was witnessed at the game reflected a mob mentality.
A-Rod handled the situation like a professional. After getting plunked, he did not retaliate. He did not charge the mound. He took his base while Yankees manager Joe Girardi protected his player.
A usually even-keeled Girardi was fuming at the home plate umpire and was ultimately ejected, while A-Rod took his base. He scored later in the inning as the Yankees rattled off two runs off Dempster, who was not ejected and continued pitching.
Rather than lose his cool, A-Rod responded in the sixth inning by drilling a monstrous solo shot to deep center. He did not show off as he rounded the bases despite being showered with boos, which were even louder than the earlier cheers. He smiled as he passed first base and pointed up to the sky as he crossed home plate, as many players in the league do—nothing wrong with that.
One cannot argue the way Alex handled last night’s events. He was a consummate professional. Meanwhile, the Red Sox fans continued to boo louder and louder each time A-Rod came to bat.
A-Rod has been booed everywhere he has played since returning, even at Yankee Stadium. But the Red Sox fans in attendance took it to another level as the boos echoed through Boston.
Dempster exited later in the inning and had relinquished Boston’s 6-3 lead. As he was walking off the field, now in line for the loss, he was greeted with the loudest cheers of the night—not because of his performance, but because he hit A-Rod. The Yankees went on to win the game, partly because of A-Rod’s 3-4 performance.
Again, I completely understand why the fans would boo. They were happy someone had hit A-Rod, an accused liar and cheater, and have every right to boo when an opposing hitter drills a home run.
But these reactions went beyond that. There was hatred in the air that should not be present at a sporting event. Alex Rodriguez, the villain, became Alex Rodriguez, the victim, even if it was only for one summer night.