soft hands.

i implore everyone to check out allen barra's excellent piece on the puzzling a-rod hate phenomenon in the village voice. shoutout to kb for the find:
In a world in which people are praised according to achievement, Rodriguez would be recognized as the last of the so-called five-tool superstars in the mold of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Duke Snider, players who can hit for a high average with tremendous power, throw, field, and run. In a fair world, it would be enough that Alex Rodriguez is the greatest all-around player in baseball�which he clearly was before this season. He isn't playing as well this season as he did last, and the decline seems most attributable to a lack of focus. For instance, he's made 22 errors so far, nearly twice as many as in all of 2005, most of them on fairly routine ground balls or standard throws from third base to first. At bat, he has only been hitting about 15 or so points below his career average but looks to be headed for a career high in strikeouts.

In a sane world, Rodriguez, who will reach 500 home runs sooner than any player in the game's history, would be the obvious antidote to the ugly PR mess that Barry Bonds threatens to dump on the game if he approaches Hank Aaron's career record of 755 home runs. Baseball would at least have the consolation of knowing that Rodriguez, about whom there has never been a hint of steroid or any other kind of scandal, would, at the pace he's going, be on track to surpass both Bonds and Aaron by the time he's 40.

In a world that made sense, Alex Rodriguez would be the symbol of Latin ascendance over the game of baseball.

Unfortunately for Alex Rodriguez, this world is none of those. It's the world of New York baseball in 2006, in which the game's best player is subjected to what teammate Mike Mussina calls "lethal booing," where his every at-bat and play in the field is mercilessly scrutinized, and in which the local press and fandom treat him as if he were a member of a hated rival team�while fans of the hated rival team, the Boston Red Sox, boo and curse him hysterically for not playing for their team, a decision in which he had no say in the first place.

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