|A-Rod: Don't feel sorry for me
||[ Tuesday July 15, 7am]
He has been mum on the topic for more than a week now. Alex Rodriguez has run out of clubhouses without speaking with reporters. At the All-Star selection press conference last week, he had a team exec lay down ground rules: "Baseball questions only."
Well, yesterday at a pre-All-Star event in Manhattan, Alex Rodriguez spoke for the first time about his latest forays onto the front pages and gossip rags. No, he didn't get specific about Madonna or his marriage, but he did talk about what this is like for him.
And he wouldn't trade his place with anybody ... except maybe Derek Jeter.
"Look, everyone has distractions," Rodriguez said. "Everyone goes through personal issues. I mean, mine are on the front page of the papers. I'm fine with that. It's a little bit of a gift and a curse. You have to deal with that, and (these are) challenging times, but I'll get through it, but on the other hand there's so much good that comes with that, and I don't have a problem with that. I'm not blaming anybody. I'm not blaming the media. There's issues and they're hard and you have to move forward.
"But with that same token, you take our experience we had with Virginia Tech. We had an opportunity to go down there and make such an impact because you wear this Yankee uniform and because our names have a lot of power to those kids. You look at a guy like John (Challis) last week, who's dying of cancer, and he had an opportunity to come to my apartment. I gave him a tour, and he was riding to the ballpark with me, and the kid was falling asleep. You look at moments like that and all of us should be grateful for what we have."
Rodriguez was peppered with questions, and gracefully sidestepped those from the tabloid TV shows. He said the fans have been "incredibly supportive, all over town." When somebody brought up the photo of him with his daughters in the papers this week, he simply smiled and said, "Everything's good. Thank you."
Rodriguez said he knew what he was getting into when he signed his two record-breaking contracts, but that he might not have known how to handle it earlier.
"I don't think any piece of advice can help you, besides you living it by yourself in New York," Rodriguez said. "Again, you have to take the good with the bad and not take yourself too seriously. I think that's the one thing, over the first four or five years, I kept knocking myself over the head and trying to re-explain myself, and if (I had been asked) that question (about the tabloid stories) I probably would have been there for three or four hours trying to explain my personal life and kind of would have made a (jerk) out of myself, really. So you just don't take yourself too seriously.
"For every negative you tell me, I can tell you 10 positives. I focus on the positives. I never look in the mirror and feel sorry for myself. It's just part of it. I know that a lot of people, whatever they read, they can relate with one, two or three things that's occurred to me, and I lean on the good Lord and I know he'll get me through these challenging times."
Of course none of this would prevent A-Rod (or Jeter) from hosting a big bash last night in separate Manhattan nightspots.
Rodriguez said the difference between the two players is simple, from the time they were kids:
"He was a Yankees fan and I was a Mets fan," A-Rod said. "That's why everybody hates me."
But he sounded envious when he spoke seriously about his fellow All-Star starter.
"Derek, look, you're talking about a storybook guy," Rodriguez said. "Playing his whole career here, being the captain, winning four championships, I think for him (the All-Star Game) is also a celebration of his great career and he was the most beloved Yankee of our generation. I think the story, in many ways, is Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and the new stadium.
"When you look at the perfect career, I would have to say Derek Jeter's right there and Mariano Rivera's right there."
Jeter was flattered by that.
"I like to think it's more a celebration of the stadium, but you appreciate that coming from Alex," he said.