The concept of the Fame Audit was first pioneered by the fine website Fametracker.com during the early part of the last decade. With Fame Tracker lying dormant for the better part of 4 years (well beyond the internet statute of limitations of 20 minutes), we here at Getting Blanked thought it might be a hoot to re-purpose the Fame Audit and apply it to baseball players.
Who is more famous than his playing ability deserves? Who isn’t famous enough? Why might a given player lag behind/receive undue fame? How many Derek Jeter insults can we slip into each post? Today’s subject is universal pariah Alex Rodriguez.
Alex Rodriguez is a preposterously good baseball player. Unfathomably good. He looks and plays as though he was genetically engineered to play baseball at its absolute highest level – which he has done since the age of 18. Eighteen.
In the time since he burst onto the scene with one of the greatest 20 year old seasons you could imagine, Alex Rodriguez has done nothing but cement his status as one of the greatest players in baseball history. To me this cannot be argued.
Playing the most demanding defensive position for the first half of this illustrious career cannot be discounted either. He played 150 games a year through his prime and posted a low OPS of .888 over that time. Every year he plays from here on out, he will continue to knock off significant career milestones the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
Yet none of these things first leap to mind when discussing Alex Rodriguez. It is everything else about him – the steroids, the money. the sinewy blondes, the handbags, the money, the otherworldly weirdness, the money. Did I mention the money?
Perhaps because he was playing in the big leagues at age 18 or perhaps he just isn’t very smart, whatever the reason it is hard to say Alex Rodriguez has managed his image very well at all. His recent dalliances with marginally talented actresses does nothing to minimize his runaway image as a weird, aloof multi-millionaire with a tenuous grasp on the realities of most people.
How much of this comes back to his own image management? When captured by Super Bowl cameras stuffing his face with popcorn, rather than laugh about this unusual display of humanity, A-Rod reportedly seethed.
Poor personal branding aside, Alex Rodriguez is in such a rarefied air of fame and wealth and ability, it is difficult to grade him. The wealth and ability shape the public’s view of him far more than his own transgressions ever could. He carried the reputation of playoff choke artist for years, despite hitting 13 home runs with a .925 OPS in 63 playoff games. The success of the 2009 Yankees certainly helped swing the support of Yankees behind him.
When I asked admitted Yankees fan and Big League Stew contributor Rob Iracane about Yankees fans view of Alex Rodriguez, he astutely pointed out that despite the crap they get around baseball, Yankees fans are just like all other fans.
It only takes one fantastic postseason that culminates in a World Series win to completely throw the entire support of the Yankees fanbase behind a person, no matter how much they crapped on him for years before that.
The fame of Alex Rodriguez is, in many ways, a casualty of the modern age. Instead of a dedicated core of writers content on building his folklore like flawed heroes Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth. Sadly, Alex Rodriguez lives in an era where that sort of protection isn’t afforded the wealthy and well-known. Doubly so for those who alternatively take themselves too serious and not seriously enough.
In the end, Alex Rodriguez’s life has gone almost exactly to plan. He’s superduper famous and rich and dates movie stars. That millions of people think they hate him probably doesn’t keep him up at night. I seriously doubt it he notices at all, or he fingers jealousy of his fame, wealth and considerable physical gifts as the reason for the high levels of contempt.
There is no real way to separate the fame from the notoriety, the derision from the admiration when it comes to Alex Rodriguez. He’s a cheater to some and a jerk to others. One thing we should not take away from him is his considerable record of achievement on the field. Nobody on the short list for greatest player of all time needs “dated Cameron Diaz” listed higher on his tombstone.
Fame Assets: Probably the best and richest baseball player you’ve ever seen.
Fame Deterrents: Infamy overshadows achievement-based fame.
Current level of fame: Stan Musial
Deserved level of fame: Mickey Mantle
Nana Index (number of nanas, out of 100, who could offer a working knowledge of what “Alex Rodriguez” could possibly be): 73.