Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alex Rodriguez, Jealousy and Hate

by Ben Howard

Alex Rodriguez is good at playing baseball.

I have no idea how many of you follow sports, but for those of you that do, you know this is an incredibly controversial statement.

Alex Rodriguez is one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the sport. There's no rational argument that can make a case against this statement. He's easily the greatest player of his generation and has been since he was about 16 years old.

Alex Rodriguez is also probably one of the most hated baseball players in history. To be clear, this isn't that kind of friendly-rivalry-hate or that love-to-hate-'em phenomenon that some people have with athletes. There is nothing fun involved in the hatred of Alex Rodriguez and that's probably because people don't hate Alex Rodriguez: The Person, they hate Alex Rodriguez: The Idea.

Rodriguez is hated because he's always been good. He's hated because being good has always looked easy. He's hated even more because that talent that looked so effortless made him the highest played player in professional sports. Jealousy plus a perception of easy money? Yeah, that's a recipe for deep-seated hatred.

It doesn't help that Rodriguez comes off as stilted and awkward during interviews. Something that in a lesser player might be interpreted as a distaste for the limelight is interpreted as Rodriguez being cold and corporate, unable to relate to the common man.

This hatred has nearly boiled over several times including when Rodriguez was nearly traded to the Boston Red Sox, but eventually went to the Yankees instead and several years after that when it came to light that he had used steroids for a short period of time in Texas.

Jealousy + easy money + corporate facade + steroids? That's a recipe for sports fan hell.

This has bubbled up again during the recent postseason. The Yankees have been struggling offensively up and down the lineup. No one is playing well, but most of the hatred has been pointed at Rodriguez. Fans don't want it to be a slump, they want it to be the end of the line. There is this widespread believe, or maybe hope is the better word, that two bad weeks in October mean that he'll be forced to retire in shame.

Even the Yankees manager seems to have bought into this weird, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mentality replacing Rodriguez with the far less adept Eric Chavez for the two of the last three games.

Why do we do this? Why does this happen?

I don't think any of us is immune to this kind of jealous hate. I know for certain that I'm not. I do it all the time with writers. Some author becomes wildly successful and my immediate reaction is that he must be a sell-out. All of his ideas must be empty and baseless, because no one becomes popular based on substance in the religion and theology racket. Christian best-seller is just another phrase for "Book I won't be reading soon."

This type of thinking is so stupid. I know that I've gone through this very scenario with Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne, the list goes on. But when I think about it, when I think about what they're actually saying, they're right. It's true and it's authentic and they didn't change. I did, or at least my perception of them did.

So I want to apologize to Rob Bell and Brian McLaren and Shane Claiborne and any other author that I've secretly felt resentful towards because of their success. I'm sorry, you guys are really awesome, I was wrong. I also want to apologize to Alex Rodriguez. I hope things get better for you.

Take this as a call to reconsider why you hate the things you hate and love the things you love. Are they actually as bad as you think or are you possibly jealous? And as for the things you love, are they actually true or do they just reinforce what you already believe? Those are simply two sides of the same coin.

I hope we all find the freedom to say we're wrong and change our minds.


You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenHoward87 or email him at benjamin.howard87 [at]

Also, you can subscribe to On Pop Theology via RSS feed or email on the top right corner of the main page.

No comments:

Post a Comment