As chairman of the BBWAA's New York chapter from November 2002 to November 2004, I enjoyed the privilge of emceeing two of our dinners in Manhattan, when we salute our national award winners and also recognize local standouts.
For my second dinner, in January 2004, I sat in the middle of the dais, with Fred Wilpon on my left and Keith Hernandez to my right. Not far from Hernandez was Alex Rodriguez, there to collect his 2003 AL MVP trophy and, not that any of us knew, just weeks away from becoming a Yankee.
Following a brief introduction, we broke for dinner, which allows folks on the dais to schmooze. A smiling A-Rod made his way to Hernandez and Wilpon.
"There they are," A-Rod said, nodding at the two men. "My baseball hero, and my real estate hero."
As it turns out, A-Rod has far more in common with Wilpon than just an affinity for real estate. We learned yesterday that A-Rod recently traveled to Germany to undergo a new treatment for his right knee and left shoulder. And even though the Yankees fully vouched for their pricey fading veteran, I'm sure many in the yakosphere (trademark Neil Best) will cite A-Rod's shady history and voice their doubts about the kosherness of what went down.
I get it. A-Rod has earned much of that distrust. Just as his real estate hero has on the other side of the RFK Bridge.
Earlier this month, when Jose Reyes left for Miami, we discussed how, even though the Mets' decision to let Reyes go could be justified as a sound baseball decision, the Wilpons and Saul Katz had lost all credibility. They had lost the benefit of the doubt. We naturally wondered whether the Mets, given all of their financial woes, simply couldn't afford to keep Reyes for even something like five years and $75 million.
Everything the Mets do, until either the Wilpons and Katz sell or they prove conclusively that they're viable for the long haul - that's probably something they couldn't be able to affirm until 2016-ish, given their massive bills - will be viewed through the prism of their shaky finances. Not just Bernie Madoff, but the other bills coming, as Bob Klapisch details here.
I wouldn't go that epic on ripping A-Rod. He's just one man, representing only himself. But when we hear that he went to Germany for some special treatment? Of course the antennae go up. Because of his past with illegal PEDs, and because of the Anthony Galea story that broke in 2010, when - even if what he did with Galea was legitimate - he infuriated the Yankees by not informing them of his sessions with the ultimately convicted doctor.
And because, simply, he's A-Rod. One of the best players ever, but also gifted with an ability to find trouble and controversy at every turn. (See: Braden, Dallas.)
It's huge that the Yankees vouched for this, put their name on it publicly, as Brian Cashman held a telephone news conference yesterday and made clear that A-Rod did everything right procedurally this time. Kobe Bryant has discussed this therapy, and what it sounds like, essentially, is pretty standard: Very wealthy athletes battling Father Time, using their resources to search for every avenue to keep pace with their professional peers. Shoot, maybe this will even help A-Rod.
At first blush, it seems unfair to offer a "Hmm..." when hearing of A-Rod's latest actions. But that won't stop folks from doing so. A-Rod's history makes it easy. Just like with the Mets' owners.
Tough times for the real estate crowd, I guess you could say.
Have a great day.