- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
At the urging of Martinez, Rodriguez has joined a group of about a dozen Yankees who socialize and dine together after games. He says that such get-togethers were "rare" last year but have been convened "many times" this season. The group typically includes Jeter and Posada, both of whom are close friends with Martinez but notably failed to publicly support Rodriguez this spring after he was insulted by several Red Sox players, including rightfielder Trot Nixon, who called A-Rod "a clown." ( Rodriguez says that several Boston players, including reliever Matt Mantei and outfielder Johnny Damon, have since apologized to him for their remarks.)
Says Posada, "The reason we didn't say much was because we wanted it to go away. If we answer them, then they answer us, and it keeps going on and on. It wasn't because we're not behind him. It wasn't because we don't love him. And we told Alex that."
Jackson believes Rodriguez has gotten through the worst of it. "There's nothing he's going through that I didn't go through twice," says Jackson, a Yankee from 1977 through '81. "It takes a year to get adjusted in New York. In Year Two, I made peace with Thurman [Munson]. With Alex, he's so good, [fans and media think] he's not doing enough unless he's doing the most. Maybe we're asking too much, but he can hit .340, drive in 145, hit 50 bombs. And in this ballpark? And in this era A.R.--After 'Roids? That's amazing."
back in the restaurant, dinner is finished and there is one more game against the Red Sox on the menu the next day. Rodriguez is asked if he understands what sticks in the craw of his critics. "Three things," he says. "The [10-year, $252 million] contract. Leaving Seattle and Texas. Never having won a championship. I understand the World Series is different. That's ultimately how you're judged."
He puts on a dark-blue wool coat. The rain has stopped. In a moment, with Cynthia at his side, he will walk into the cool evening. He has one last thing to say.
"I don't care if people like me or not," Rodriguez says. "Respect is more important."
Beating 'Em To the Punch
Through Sunday, Alex Rodriguez had 398 home runs and 58 days to go before he turned 30. Already the youngest to slug 350 homers (28 years, 282 days), he was on the verge of becoming the first player in his 20s to hit 400. Here are the five youngest players to reach that milestone.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]