April 5, 2009

Becoming The Babe

In my review of the book Becoming Manny, I wrote:
Many times, I thought of a young Babe Ruth when reading about Manny. There are certainly similarities: the love of practical jokes, the prodigious hitting talents, the inattention to the details of the game -- Ruth once made friends with a puppy that ran on the field during a game ...
Ron Rollins sees similarities between Alex Rodriguez and the Babe:
Both were/are overgrown child who don't have face any real responsibility in life, and just get to play a game. Both move(d) through life like they don't really have a clue what's going on around them, being easily manipulated by others, and just enjoying who they are and what life brings them. There is a child-like innocence to both that can't be denied.

Both were considered less-than perfect teammates, who cared more for their own statistics than the good of the team. Ideas that cannot really be backed up by the facts, as both were heads-up ballplayers that were very competitive on the field, and a better teammate than given credit for. ...

And while Alex will be forever known for his steroid use, Babe will get a pass on his excesses in life. Unfairly. ...

Babe played at a time when there weren't as many distractions in life, and ballplayers were revered and loved. At a distance, Babe did what he did, and largely got away with it because of a fawning and forgiving press, and the desire of the club owners to keep their reputations clean. The public didn't know their heroes were tainted, and probably didn't want to. Alex is reviled by the 24-hour press, no longer willing to be the lapdogs of the players. ...

If you want to love Babe, you can't hate Alex. If you want to despise Alex, you can't idolize Babe. ...
My thoughts:

I don't see A-Rod having "a child-like innocence" or being clueless to his surroundings. That's more in line with the public perception of Manny. And if you believe Rodriguez "do[es]n't really have a clue what's going on around" him, can you also claim he's a "heads-up ballplayer"?

Plus, I'm not sure he truly enjoys being who he is.

In Babe's time, the press were lapdogs for the owners, not the players. Sportswriters have never been on the side of the players.

In the old days, they refused to report on the messier aspects of players' lives, not because they were "fawning and forgiving" when it came to the men who played the game, but because doing so would ruin the public's generally unsullied image of baseball and, by extension, hurt the writers standing with the owners, who paid their travel costs on road trips (and often supplied them with food and drink).

The sportswriters had no desire to see that gravy train slip off the tracks. You don't have to dig too deep into baseball history to see that anytime the writers wanted to turn on the players, they did. And do.

[tip of the cap to ShysterBall]


Benjamin said...

There's a difference between "childlike" and "childish". A*Rod is the latter.

L-girl said...

No similarities between Alex Rodriguez and Babe Ruth. Zippo.

The Manny comparison seems apt, but we don't know Manny as well as we can know Babe Ruth, so it's hard to say. Plus even Manny would have to be 100 times greater than he is now, relative to everyone around him.

'Sokay, I love them both.