“Play ground. By the swings. 3 o’clock. Be there or…”
No matter where you sat on the whole brewhaha involving A’s pitcher Dallas Braden and the man we love to hate, a.k.a. Alex Rodriguez, this is pretty much what one has to hear every time the young hurler opens his mouth.
Which is quite often.
Braden didn't care for Rodriguez running across his mound a few weeks ago. OK, fine, even though it's hard to find anyone who had ever heard of that as one of baseball's unwritten rules. The general consensus seems to range from “I have never really heard about that one” to “I never gave much thought about it man”.
But now he is just looking like an ass. He's out of line insinuating, as he did this week, that a fight is brewing if and when he faces A-Rod in July, the next time the teams meet.
First of all, if Braden wants to be a tough guy, in the old-school manner of Don Drysdale , why doesn't he just drill Rodriguez in the ribs the next time he faced him in that very game? Why wait then tell the world about it two months ahead of time?
"There are things that are going to have to happen," Braden told CSN Bay Area on Wednesday. "Out of respect to my teammates, out of respect to the game. I think he's probably garnered a new respect for the unwritten rules and the people who hold them close to their game. But I think you're right, we don't do much talking in the 209."
Um, excuse me? We don't do much talking in the 209?
How can you take a guy seriously who refers to the area code where he lives, in Stockton, Calif. , as if to explain why you shouldn't mess with him?
CC Sabathia, an Oakland native, certainly has a hard time doing so:
“He's a clown,” CC Sabathia said of Braden. “Guy says he's from the 209, what the [bleep] is that? That's where I'm from and I don't know what he's talking about. Two-oh-nine. He needs to just calm down - put that in the paper. That's just tired.”
Braden kept digging that hole a ‘lil deeper by going on call Rodriguez a "fool" for the crack he made at the time of the incident, when he laughed off the A's pitcher as someone "with a handful of wins" in the big leagues.
While I am not a big fan of the “who the hell is Karim Garcia ?” defense method, it’s not like there isn’t an argument for a player letting his play do most of his talking for him, preferably over a respectable amount of time.
Finally, Braden took the prima donna angle on Rodriguez.
"He's an individualistic player," Braden said. "He plays for the name on the back of the jersey, not the front. I don't know if he's noticed, but he doesn't have a name on the back over there so he should play for the name on the front."
In the past I would have done nothing but agree with this one, at one time early in the 2004 season even having listed the slugging third basemen on eBay for what could best be described as “a really low freakin’ price”.
But one can’t ignore the fact that until this incident we had been seeing a completely new A-Rod over the last year.
The guy has been carrying himself differently, playing his ass off (even in clutch situations) and by all accounts been a solid team mate. It was Rodriguez who took Robinson Cano aside early in spring training, telling him that “a player with your talent could have a couple of MVPs by now”.
Cano recounts drills where Rodriguez would create RBI scenarios such as second and third, one out. Cano would take 15 swings and then A-Rod would “break down not just the mechanics, but -- just as vital -- the mindset."
Judging by the start to this season for the Yankees second basemen I’d say it had a profound impact.
Nope, sorry Mr. Braden, any attempt to paint him with that same broad brush we once did just isn’t going to get the job done anymore.
Frankly, it's just time for you to act like an adult and let things go. You got your 15 minutes of fame, plucked from baseball obscurity by some odd confluence of events that could only happen to the human lightning rod known as Alex Rodriguez.
Now it's time you to let this pearl of wisdom from Crash Davis sink in real good.
"Don't think, Meat. It can only hurt the ball club."
This article is also featured on You're Killin' Me, Smalls!