(AP)Alex Rodriguez has lately been off his game at the plate and everybody watching the New York Yankees knows it. He's been dropped in the batting order and even replaced in the lineup as he struggles to find his hitting stroke.
Meanwhile, his other skills remains sharp.
In a story that seems too ridiculous to be true, except that it's A-Rod, the New York Post quotes unnamed witnesses at Game 1 of the ALCS saying Rodriguez openly flirted with two female fans sitting near the Yankees dugout after he was taken out for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. He even had a bat boy toss the women a ball with instructions to write their phone numbers on it — which they did. This is the same game in which Derek Jeter broke his ankle.
Oy-Rod. The Mighty Centaur truly has fallen.
Take it away, Post:
"Alex was holding a pen and wrote a note on a ball which was thrown at the women by a ball boy,'' the witness explained.
"The girls, who had already caught two balls, seemed bemused at first and tried to hand the ball to another fan, but other fans noticed the note on it and yelled at them to read it.
"The note asked them to write their phone numbers on the ball and throw it back,'' the witness said.
"One of the girls, with darker blond hair, wrote . . . on the ball and threw it back at A-Rod, who gave her a big smile."
"They exchanged a few glances after that,'' as A-Rod took a powder while a pinch-hitter took his place at the plate.
Unreal. But real. Once Jeter became injured, the Post continues, the flirting stopped. Even A-Rod has his limits. The timing of the flirting is somewhat important. The Post seems to say that it began before the Yankees' incredible rally in the ninth, before Raul Ibañez hit his most recent tying home run. If that's accurate, it's especially lousy on Rodriguez's part to be engaging in that kind of activity as the team is trailing.
It might be colorful and amusing behavior during the season, but with his team fighting for its playoff existence ... OK, let's not go overboard. There wasn't much Rodriguez could do to help once he was lifted from the game. But he had seemed to be handling his demotions well, being a "team player" by accepting the decisions of manager Joe Girardi and rooting on his teammates, blah, blah, blah. In spite of his massive salary, Rodriguez had become something of a sympathetic character for his struggles (unless you just irrationally hate the Yankees, or him, and a lot of you do).
This ought to change the dynamic. Perhaps an A-Rod apologist such as myself should excuse him for ... grieving ... over his personal batting plight by trying to compensate with fresh female companionship. No?
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If I'm Joe Girardi (poor Joe Girardi), I might expunge A-Rod from the lineup once and for all over this. Not as punishment. It's just, this has to be the final-final-final straw for 2012, doesn't it? His head isn't in the game, it's in the stands with the cute fans.
The best worst part of the Post story is the end, when it gives fans a dating update for Rodriguez (who reportedly has been seeing pro wrestler Torrie Wilson — only the Post spells her first name "T-O-R-R-E," as in Joe Torre) and Jeter. Now, why Jeter's love life is relevant in a story about A-Rod's flirting, only the Post can tell us. (But it is worth noting he is dating a model named Hannah Davis. We now return you to TMZ.)
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