So long, smarmy, rich liar

  • Larry Henry / Sports Columnist
  • Monday, December 11, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Now the Oscar for best actor of the year.

The envelope, please.

The winner is … Alex Rodriguez, for his role in “Fooling Seattle.”

Yes, little Alex had many people bamboozled, including the Mariner brass.

They actually thought they had a chance to re-sign him.

Come on. The guy’s been out of here for a year. Maybe longer. He never meant to come back.

Sure, he said all the right things. He didn’t want to get everyone ticked off at him. Didn’t want everyone to think he didn’t want to play here. That would be unpolitic. And if there’s anything Rodriguez is, it’s a smarmy politician. He’s as insincere as insincere can be. He’ll say anything to make himself look good.

Now we see the real Alex.

The real Alex is all about “show me the money.”

Well, the Texas Rangers showed it to him: $252 million over 10 years.

Take the money and run, Alex.

I hope it makes you happy.

It won’t.

He’ll be beefing about something before the summer is over.

He’s just another prima donna.

I hope he doesn’t say something truly insulting like, “I just wanted to take care of my family’s future.”

I don’t blame him for seeking top dollar. That’s the American way.

What I knock him for is stringing Seattle fans along, making them think the Mariners were serious contenders for his services. He got a lot of people’s hopes up. They thought he was genuine about maybe wanting to come back.

“Oh, I love Seattle.” “I love my teammates.” “It’s a beautiful ballpark.”

Hollow words, all.

He might have liked his teammates, but he hated the new ballpark.

He said on his Web site that he thought the fences should be brought in to benefit the team. Benefit Alex Rodriguez is more like it.

Funny, you didn’t hear Edgar Martinez (19 home runs) or Jay Buhner (15 home runs in only 194 at-bats) complain about the dimensions in the home-field park.

Rodriguez apparently didn’t care that moving the fences might hurt the Mariner pitchers. Their edge is that Safeco Field is a tough place to hit home runs.

The Mariners won 91 games last year with pitching, defense and gap hitting. Why make it easier to hit home runs? The other team bats too, you know.

No, this was all about making it easier for Alex to hit the ball out of the park. This was all about Alex’s legacy.

Not that he was really serious about the fence deal. He knew the Mariners weren’t going to make an adjustment. This was just one of those means-nothing talking points, something to toss out there and make people think that if the M’s caved in he would stay.

They could have given him the keys to the city and he wouldn’t have stayed.

They could have given him a percentage of the ballclub and he wouldn’t have stayed.

He didn’t want to play here, don’t you see?

Rodriguez wants the perfect situation. He wants to play for a team that can contend every year and that has a strong minor league system. In the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last weekend, it was reported that he also said he “likes playing in hot weather and he wants to play on a team with a strong commitment to Latin American players.”

What, Freddy Garcia, Edgar Martinez, Stan Javier, Jose Paniagua, Joel Pineiro and Carlos Guillen isn’t a strong commitment to Latin players? That’s not to mention Jose Mesa, who is no longer with the M’s. Including Rodriguez and Raul Ibanez, more than a third of the M’s roster was Spanish speaking last summer.

As for weather, no, we can’t match Texas for summer heat, but that’s good. Who wants to swelter in 100-degree plus temperatures and energy-sapping humidity?

Apparently, Rodriguez does.

I’ve got news for him. There is no perfect situation. He may think there is, but that just shows his naivete.

Some blame his agent for making Alex look like an arrogant power-monger in all this. You know, the reported demands for stadium suites, the private jet, the marketing team, the tent to display his wares at spring training, the opt-out clause in his contract, etc.

Please. Rodriguez wants to be the top dog in all of sports and the top dog wants top treatment.

He isn’t the innocent some think he is. Or thought he was.

But they’re finding out about him.

Don’t get me wrong. He’s a tremendous player, he’s working on a Hall of Fame career and he appears to be a good kid.

Will he play the rest of his career for the Rangers?

I doubt it very much.

He may think he’s found the ideal situation that will make him forever happy.

But if there’s anything you learn about ballplayers who have more money than they know what to do with, it’s that few ever seem to find true happiness.

Some of you probably think losing Rodriguez means the M’s have no chance of reaching the postseason next summer. They got there without Ken Griffey Jr. in 2000.

They still have strong pitching.

They still have Pat Gillick as general manager, and you know what he did with last year’s team.

You don’t think he had backup plans all along in case Rodriguez left?

The M’s also still have one of the finest managers in the game in Lou Piniella.

They also have all that money they saved on Rodriguez to get two or three ballplayers.

Look at it this way. They lost another player who didn’t want to be here.

What’s wrong with that?

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