A-Rod has earned silent treatment at Fenway

A-Rod has earned silent treatment at Fenway
August 16, 2013, 1:30 pm
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As a sports writer and a sports reader, there’s nothing I hate more than a sports column that tells sports fans how they should treat an opposing player. (Also, sports!)

So, with Alex Rodriguez in town this weekend and ready to grace Fenway for what could possibly be the last time, I’m not here to say what anyone should or shouldn’t do. If you feel like booing your brains out, that’s cool. He deserves it. If you want to smuggle in a trident and spend the night hunting for half-man/half-centaurs, all the power to you. He deserves it. But in the spirit of this being my column, I’ll tell you what I would do —

“ . . . . . . . .”

You hear that?

Exactly.

Nothing.

Silence.

OK, so why wouldn’t I boo him?

To answer that, let’s ask another question: Why did we ever boo him?

In the past, it was because he was the most talented and incredibly unlikable player on Boston’s biggest rival. Because he had a knack for cracking under pressure and doing less when the situation called for more. Because he had purple lips. Because he had an affection for trying to daintily swipe the ball out of a fielder’s glove. Five years ago, Boston booed A-Rod because Boston hated A-Rod, but also because Boston wanted to get inside his head. The man was at the top of his game and Boston wanted to bring him down.

Today, everything has changed. A man can’t get much lower than Alex Rodriguez is right now. His skills have diminished so drastically that his presence is something that Sox fans should actually look forward to. As natural as it is to despise him and his role in this most recent PED scandal, from a Red Sox perspective, it’s actually better if Rodriguez doesn’t get suspended at all. You really want the Yankees to earn relief from that insane contract? No way. The truth is that every day this appeal stays alive and every game that Rodriguez plays for New York between now and the end of time is a good thing for the Sox. Both as it relates to the Yankees on-field performance and their bloated check book.

As for hating Rodriguez. Yeah, of course Boston still hates Rodriguez. He’s a very hate-able dude. But these days, Boston’s not alone. Everyone hates A-Rod. His own teammates, manager and GM. The guy can’t walk out of his apartment without getting booed. His life is in shambles. His whole career is a disgrace. While in the past, Sox fans booed Rodriguez as a way to bring him down, today he’s already at rock bottom. There’s nothing special about booing him anymore. No real purpose. No creativity. No nuance. At this point, it’s almost cliché. In fact, I’d argue that booing Alex Rodriguez this weekend at Fenway will actually have an adverse effect.

After all, as we know there are few people in the world as into themselves as A-Rod. He’s the narcissists’ narcissist. And honestly, what do you think will go through his mind every time he takes the field and/or steps into the batter’s box to a chorus of deafening boos? Will it make him feel worse about himself than he already does? Make him play worse than he already has?

I doubt it. Instead, I’m guessing there will be only one thing going through A-Rod’s mind.

“Thatta boy, Alex. You still got it. They still care.”

But do you really?

I don’t.

It was one thing when he was mashing at the height of the Sox/Yankees rivalry. But today, as actual baseball player, he’s irrelevant. He’s not worthy of Boston’s boos. But, thanks to everything that’s happened these last few months on top of everything that’s happened these last 10 years, he’s still very worthy of being made to feel uncomfortable at Fenway.

Which brings me back to this: “. . . . . .”

If you ask me, the best way to really get to Alex Rodriguez is to not treat him like Alex Rodriguez. It’s to treat him like Chris Stewart. Like Enrique Nunez. It’s to let him take the plate and, instead of hearing boos, let him hear nothing. Or even better, let him overhear people laughing about things that have nothing to do with baseball, conversations about the latest episode of Breaking Bad, or things like: “Ahh, OK. Rodriguez is up. Perfect time to hit the head.”

That will do far more damage than a chorus of boos.

Although not quite as much damage as that trident.

Follow me on Twitter: @rich_levine