Alex Rodriguez, Grinder.

Alex Rodriguez is one of the bigger lightning rods in modern professional sports. People know who he is and, invariably, have a strong opinion of him. That opinion or feeling towards A-Rod is generally one of dislike and/or disgust. Mostly because not only is he more gifted than all of us combined but he’s rich and douchey, too.

One of his biggest problems, as far as his public persona is concerned, is he always seems to make poor decisions. He isn’t a wife beater or a drunk driver but people dislike him with a passion twice that of the idiots guilty of these crimes because he doesn’t seem to “get it.” If anything, Alex Rodriguez’s greatest crime is having too much money, money he apparently likes to lose playing poker in some of the many “underground” New York poker clubs. Much to the chagrin of people with too much time on their hands.

Various reports (nicely compiled here by Duk at Big League Stew) suggest Alex Rodriguez participated in high-stakes poker games in which many dollars were wagered and some nose candy may or may not have been ingested. It is important to note that while hosting a poker game like this is illegal, playing in one technically isn’t.

This is not the first time Rodriguez ran against league edicts as they relate to poker rooms, as he the matter was discussed with A-Rod in 2005. Below is what MLB spokesperson Pat Courtney told USA Today about the matter:

We take this very seriously and have been investigating this matter since the initial allegation. As part of the investigation, the commissioner’s office will interview Mr. Rodriguez.”

Risky as these types of clubs might be, I fail to see the difference – in terms of relative risk – between a card game or the “high-end” night clubs all professional athletes frequent both on the road and in their home cities, sometimes even on game night!

So A-Rod likes to go out and rub elbows with Knish and the boys. Let him dump a little to the grey-complected rounders who actually understand the ROI of their suited connectors when they put a whale like Rodriguez on a premium hand out of position. Slumming lawyers and wannabe Russian gangsters (“with those fake Versace shirts and shit?”) will be thrilled to let A-Rod drag a pot from time to time, even just for a story to tell the boys back in Astoria.

Does Alex Rodriguez’s employer have the right to forbid him from playing in card clubs around Manhattan? I suppose it doesn’t hurt to try. If the alternatives are nights in a night club or, ugh, driving down the Shore to Atlantic City for a little action, is that really any better? Shouldn’t a grown man with a relatively clean record get the benefit of the doubt?