Editor’s Note: A few hours after this article was published, Dallas Braden threw a perfect game, the 19th in Major League Baseball history. You can read the "The Legend of Dallas Braden here here
Prior to a late April afternoon game between the Yankees and Athletics, only a few people outside of Oakland had ever heard of Braden and only a few people that live under a rock had ever NOT heard of A-Rod.
Braden is from Stockton, California (or what he calls the “209″) and played his collegiate ball at Texas Tech before being drafted in 2004 by the Oakland Athletics as a 24th round selection.
His 2010 salary is $420,000, or roughly what A Rod spent on his previous steroid injections per year.
Most of you know the story on Rodriguez and his $33,000,000 salary.
The 12 All-Star selections, the three MVPs, 585 career Home Runs, 2009 World Series Champion, etc.
Braden, Rodriguez and their polar opposite baseball resumes and social statuses collided incredulously on April 22, 2010.
With A-Rod at first, Robinson Cano fouled off a Braden pitch that set Rodriguez in motion on the base path towards second base.
On his way back to first, a self-described “tired” Rodriguez took the shortest path available, across the pitcher’s mound. The 27-year-old pitcher ended the inning and his evening by pitching into a double play, but not leaving the field until he made one final statement.
As Braden made his way toward the showers, he angrily threw his glove toward the dug out and began yelling at a smirking Rodriguez. At the time, most of the fans and announcers were unsure of the hostility shown by the departing pitcher.
Only during a post-game interview would it be clear why Braden was upset with Rodriguez.
“The Yankees are an extremely classy organization with guys who always tend to do the right thing every time; it’s kind of disheartening to see that not show through or be reflected by somebody of (Rodriguez’s) status,” Braden said after the game.
“He’s a tremendous player and a tremendous talent, and I don’t care if I’m Cy Young or the 25th man on a roster; if I’ve got the ball in my hand and I’m out there on that mound, that’s not your mound. You want to run across the mound? Go run laps in the bullpen. That’s my mound,” Braden added.
“We’re not the doormat (Athletics) anymore. Maybe it doesn’t come across his mind to do that to the Oakland A’s, but maybe it does enter his mind to not do it against the Boston Red Sox or to not do it against another team. It didn’t even enter his mind, so I aided him with that,” he concluded.
“I didn’t know he was talking to me, to be honest with you,” Rodriguez said.
“I thought it was pretty funny, actually. He told me to get off his mound, I didn’t know what he was talking about. I thought it was kind of funny, actually. I had never quite heard that before, especially from a guy who has a handful of wins in his career,” he added.
Braden warned there would be “repercussions” during the next meeting between the Yankees and Athletics beginning July 5.
The baseball media enjoyed the sound bites for a few days, but as most stories that involve verbal altercations go, it quickly lost steam as the A’s were not deemed a suitable foe for the Yanks.
Had the on-field altercation taken place between the Red Sox and Yankees, you can bet this would have been a running theme for the 2010 American League season.
Unable to control himself until a post fourth of July firework show, Braden once again spouted off this week with his displeasure for Rodriguez.
“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,” he said.
“I was always told if you give a fool enough rope, he’ll hang himself, and with those comments, he had all the rope he needed. I didn’t know there was a criteria in order to compete against A-Rod.”
Rodriguez also is a selfish player, Braden added.
“He’s an individualistic player,” Braden told CSN Bay Area. “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.”
Rodriguez attempted to refrain from answering more questions regarding Braden’s recent rant, but he was unable to completely hold back and offered a few jabs of his own.
“I think Major League Baseball reads the same articles as we do,” Rodriguez said. “Now, look, I really don’t want to extend his extra 15 minutes of fame.”
“Look, it is tempting to sit back here and go back and forth with the media for the next three months, but I’m not going to do that,” he concluded.
Like good teammates should, other Yankees stepped up to the plate in Rodriguez’s defense.
“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.”
“I don’t know why he keeps bringing it up,” said Derek Jeter . “Go ask him, because I have no idea why he’s talking about it again.”
“Braden is wrong and Alex is right,” said general manager Brian Cashman . “The more Dallas talks about it, the sillier he looks.”
In most circumstances it is understandable for a GM to defend his players, but for Cashman to say “Alex is right” is a misinformed statement.
Let’s say Mr. Yankee, Derek Jeter had been the one to cut across the pitcher’s mound on his way back to first base. I guarantee he would not have received the same ire from Braden. The pitcher may have given No. 2 a noticeable glance, but he would have never caused the scene that followed during or after the game.
Based off Jeter’s reputation as a good guy, his action would have been viewed as the exception rather than the rule.
However in Rodriguez’s case, this isn’t the first time he has disgraced the game of baseball or it’s written and unwritten code.
In 2004, “Umpires called Yankees star Alex Rodriguez out for interference after he swatted Boston pitcher Bronson Arroyo’s glove while running out a grounder in game six of the AL Championship Series. If allowed to stand, the play would have meant the Yankees had cut the Red Sox lead to 4-3 with one out in the eighth inning and A-Rod on second base,” according to the USA Today .
During a May, 2007 game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Rodriguez was running past third baseman Howie Clark during a routine infield pop-up and called out “mine!” as he was preparing to make the catch. The distraction caused Clark to bobble the ball and was once again viewed as a “bush league” play by A-Rod.
In February of 2009, Rodriguez finally came clean and admitted to using Performance Enhancing Drugs during his time with the Texas Rangers.
Those were just a few of the incidents with Rodriguez over the years, not to mention the divorce from his wife for allegedly having repeated extra-marital affairs.
Give Braden props for finally saying what many fans and other players around the league have wanted to say for years. He was able to take advantage of his fifteen minutes of fame to blast someone who has little respect for the game of baseball.
Even pitchers who did not pitch at the major league level have an opinion on the matter.
"To be perfectly honest, if I were pitching and a hitter ran over the mound after a foul ball, I would have thrown at him next at bat. That's how I would have handled it," said former Butler Bulldogs pitcher Jon Dages.
Perhaps the latest rant by Braden was to get back in the newspapers before the early July series against the Yankees, but I at least found it mildly entertaining.
I haven’t seen a rant like this in Oakland since Thomas Bruso or better known to the viral community “Epic Beard Man.”
Now if we could just get Braden to use some of those “Tommy Slick” quotes before the next Yankees/Athletics showdown, we will have a highly anticipated series:
“All this attention is a little overwhelming, I was just doing whats right”
“It’s better to be pissed off than pissed on!”
“You better be pissed off, cuz you ain't scared of this white boy.”
“Those brothers tried to rob me three times already in Oakland”
“I was happy to ride in the front of the squad car, rather than the back!”
Braden is a talented pitcher that is just now entering his prime with the A’s. Last year he posted an acceptable 3.89 ERA, but with low win totals playing in Oakland.
Braden is one of those fun pitchers to watch because he has the ability to throw a complete game shutout and you never know what he will do or say in the process.
If Braden were playing on a big market team, he would be the promotional fan package to fans on every fifth day. As it stands now, his sound bytes far exceed his MLB resume.
For his sake and the sake of argument, let’s hope this man puts together some great outings before July 5th to make the Oakland and New York series that much more intriguing.
Plus, Braden has the potential to be a great pitcher and an Ozzie Guillen type sound byte.
And watching Alex Rodriguez put his foot in his mouth again wouldn’t be such a crying shame either.