Alex Rodriguez: All-Star. Popcorn Aficionado. Accidental Genius.
I've come to realize that the things that entertain me don't always jibe with the things that entertain the American public.
For example, Glee drew 26.8 million viewers for its post-Super Bowl special on Sunday night. The Nielsen Co. tells us that people love the show, yet the only way I'd watch Glee is if I was strapped into one of those torture chairs that had the metal tongs that hold your eyelids open.
Meanwhile, later that night I had no problem giving up two hours of my life to watch Disclosure, the tepid sexual-harassment-with-a-twist 1994 office drama starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore. Disclosure's combination of Douglas' ferocious mullet, Moore's post-boob job sex appeal, and the outstanding use of cutting edge fiber optic technology (Electronic mail! Dial-up video chats!) gets me every time.
Which leads me to Alex Rodriguez, naturally.
As you probably know, 111 million Super Bowl XLV viewers witnessed Cameron Diaz feed the Yankees third baseman popcorn on Sunday. This angered many people for the simple fact that many people deeply dislike Alex Rodriguez.
I'm guessing the groans that emitted from house parties across the country could be heard from outer space. My voice was not among the chorus, however. My reaction was one of instant jubilation, my hands shooting skyward like Aaron Boone after making contact with a flat knuckle ball.
You have to understand, A-Rod has become my bastion for unintentional comedy. I believe the man's an accidental genius of the modern media. It took time for me to warm up to him — things were a bit loosey-goosey for awhile there — but now I honestly couldn't imagine a world without him.
You remember the old cartoon Mr. Magoo, featuring the titular hero as a blind (senile? incontinent?) elderly gentleman who stumbled into one mess after another without ever knowing the madness he left in his wake?
I've come to appreciate how effortlessly he causes a scene. Most public figures who thrive on controversy — your Kanye Wests, Bill O'Reillys, Dustin Diamonds, et al. — do so by manufacturing a shtick that keeps people talking. Their currency is relevance at the water cooler.
Rodriguez stays in the conversation without even trying. He somehow manages to be both painfully self-aware and completely aloof at all times. Whether it's giving friendship-busting Esquire interviews, being unable to choose a nationality for the World Baseball Classic, spooking infielders with loud noises, dating muscular strippers (that includes Madonna), celebrating World Series wins by exclaiming "Now we're gonna party!" you name it ... the kid stays in the picture.
Sunday he did it again. On the biggest sports day of the year, A-Rod became a national talking point without being anywhere near the playing field. His legion of detractors were reminded why they loathe him, and all he had to do was be fed a snack by a beautiful, hugely famous celebrity worth tens of millions of dollars.
Like I said, the man's a genius.
Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.
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