It's just coincidence: A-Rod, Yanks on same wavelength

December 18, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

I'm sure the New York Yankees are just heartbroken that Alex Rodriguez has decided not to play in the World Baseball Classic, and if you detect a hint of sarcasm in that observation, you are very perceptive, indeed.

It should be obvious to everyone by now that I never met a conspiracy theory that I didn't like, and the announcement by A-Rod that he was pulling out of the WBC because he didn't want to dishonor either his U.S. citizenship or his Dominican heritage is far too convenient to pass without suspicious comment.

The Yankees were never particularly fond of the idea of their zillion-dollar players spending much of spring training putting themselves in harm's way, but they were forced to endorse baseball's version of the World Cup because it is Bud Selig's baby ... and perhaps will be his most enduring legacy.

Can't blame them for being concerned. They've got the biggest payroll - by far - and don't relish the possibility of having to pay big guaranteed bucks to players injured in an international tournament that does nothing to advance Yankees hegemony.

Rodriguez presents the biggest financial and competitive risk, so it wouldn't shock me if this whole thing was cooked up to keep him out of the WBC without damaging his image.

"I am proud to be an American citizen and to have a Dominican legacy. My commitment to baseball is secondary to honoring my patriotic duties to my country and my ancestors," A-Rod told the New York Post.

I'm getting all choked up, and so are some of the promoters of the inaugural WBC, but the Yankees continue to work to keep some of their players out. They already have been successful in petitioning MLB to prevent catcher Jorge Posada and several unidentified players from participating.

Gene Orza, chief operating officer of the Major League Baseball Players Association, has indicated that union officials will encourage A-Rod to change his mind and predicted he will eventually decide to take part in the inaugural event.

Bulletin: Inactive Philadelphia Eagles receiver Terrell Owens reveals in a GQ interview that some of his teammates told him he was being selfish to try to come back early from ankle surgery to play in the Super Bowl.

My take: If the magazine includes interviews with guys like Terrell Owens, why is it called Gentleman's Quarterly?

Bulletin: The Kansas City Royals just finalized modest, one-year contracts with free agents Doug Mientkiewicz and Mark Grudzielanek.

My take: I'm impressed that the Royals are way more disciplined with George Steinbrenner's money than he is. The Yankees reported a loss of $85 million last year, much of it going in revenue sharing and luxury taxes to the Royals and other underperforming teams.

Bulletin: The NFL players union has advised New Orleans Saints players not to renew leases on San Antonio homes because it appears the team will be ordered back to New Orleans for next season.

My take: This is the same league that has been pushed around by Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis for years. Bet the farm that Tom Benson ends up moving the team permanently to Alamoville.

Bulletin: Mike Martz has received medical clearance to return to work Jan. 1 after missing most of the St. Louis Rams' season with endocarditis, but team president John Shaw clearly does not want him back on the field this year ... or ever.

My take: John Shaw appears to be the one with the damaged heart.

Bulletin: Offers are rolling in for volatile Indiana Pacers star Ron Artest, whose discontent has led to intense trade speculation.

My take: Artest would look pretty good fighting with Kobe Bryant for the ball in Los Angeles.

Bulletin: Roger Clemens will decide in January whether he will pitch in 2006 or retire for the second time.

My take: Don't get your hopes up. If he doesn't play for the Texas Rangers or Yankees, he isn't going to play.

Bulletin: Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach Gunther Cunningham is fined $5,000 after pictures surface on the Internet of him making an obscene hand gesture during a game against the Dallas Cowboys.

My take: If they fined everyone $5,000 who ever flipped off Bill Parcells, they could pay off the national debt.

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