Hey, A-Rod! Smile!

No Bobby Bonilla

The great irony in all of this is that Mr. Rodriguez, for all his flaws, hasn’t done nearly as much to earn the press’ hostility as other athletes who have played here.

Former Met Bobby Bonilla, another high-priced import, physically threatened a reporter in the team’s clubhouse during the nightmare 1993 season. Later that same season, Mets pitcher Bret Saberhagen tossed a firecracker under a table near reporters, and another time sprayed some of them with bleach.

By contrast, Mr. Rodriguez has at times been a model of restraint. At other times, he has been somewhat prickly. The press has found both versions maddening.

“He doesn’t get it, and doesn’t quite understand the way the game is played with the media,” said Mr. Bondy. “It’s unfortunate, because he’s a living and walking headline.”

Worse, whenever Mr. Rodriguez has ventured to speak extemporaneously, the results have been a disaster.

In an interview on WFAN during spring training, he was asked whether he’d like to finish the length of his contract with the team. Rather than simply saying yes, he offered the following: “At some point, either New York is going to say, ‘I’ve had enough of this guy, get him the hell out of here’—and we have an option—or New York is going to say, ‘Hey, we won a world championship, we had a big year, you’re a part of it; we want you back.’ I also want to make sure, from the fans [and] management, I’m wanted here.”

The Post referred to him the next day as “a heat-seeking missile of controversy.”

Or take his relationship with Mr. Jeter—the untouchable Mantle to his brooding Maris.

Mr. Rodriguez simply could have declined to comment on his relationship with Mr. Jeter—as his teammate had done all along—but instead decided to hold a press conference at spring training to say their relationship had indeed soured.

“He attracts these things,” said Dave Anderson, the New York Times columnist. “I think it’s accidental, too. I’m sure when he yelled at the infielder, that’s something that happens quite often in baseball—but because it’s him, the Toronto players made a big deal of it. He’s a magnet for stories, for better or worse.”

“I think we are in an era when a lot of attention is being paid to celebrities—the Paris Hiltons of the world,” said the News’ sports editor, Mr. Carter. “Now it’s going to be the A-Rods of the world.”