Alex Rodriguez fitting right in at ESPN for all the wrong reasons

Alex Rodriguez fitting right in at ESPN for all the wrong reasons

Not that it matters to ESPN, but it didn’t take long for Alex Rodriguez to remind his latest TV employers of what they blissfully try to ignore: Rodriguez is full of it.

Not only is he a proven liar with a career predicated on illegal drug enrichment, his current charms and telegenic looks still can’t mask his porous credibility.

Sunday night, during the Mets-Nationals game, Rodriguez made the astonishing, darn-the-luck claim that in 2001, instead of signing with the Rangers, he wanted to sign to play for the Mets; his heart was set on it. Left unsaid and unexplained was that he would have had to play for the Mets for roughly $150 million less than $252 million the Rangers offered.

The next day, Rodriguez’s out-of-the-blue (and orange) claim was dismissed as nonsense by the former Mets executives who were party to the negotiations, which apparently were brief, as the Mets had no shot.

But Rodriguez seems to suffer from the kind of megalomania that tells him he’s so special he can get away with doing and saying anything. And he can. Thus, as was said of Kaiser Wilhelm II, he wants to be the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral.

And now, as he claimed Sunday, he could kick himself for not signing with the Mets, a deal that would have paid him roughly $150 million less.

Yeah, he was never in it for the money.

While he was at it, Rodriguez should have thanked Bud Selig and MLBPA boss Donald Fehr for green-lighting the steroids era.

Add Rodriguez (FOX, ESPN) to the list of hires — Ray Lewis (ESPN, FOX), Pete Rose (FOX), Cris Carter (ESPN, FOX), Randy Moss (FOX, ESPN), Bobby Knight (ESPN), Warren Sapp (CBS/Showtime, NFL Network) — whose notorious misdeeds once would have disqualified them from TV employment, but are now unconscionably in demand.

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ESPN, starting with Jim Valvano, has made a long habit of hiring any big-time, freshly fired, scandalized college football or basketball coach. Though Paul Pierce was among the NBA’s all-time anti-social acts, on and off the court, TNT couldn’t wait to hire him.

ESPN, naturally, will do nothing to have Rodriguez publicly amend such a sweet story that made neither sense nor history. For 21 years it employed lead baseball analyst, Joe Morgan, who had total recall of things that never happened, without censure.

In 2007, Mets infielder Luis Castillo made an awkward catch of a wind-blown pop-up in Wrigley Field. Morgan explained that Castillo is unfamiliar with the wind in Wrigley because, he said, “Castillo has played his entire career in the American League.”

Nonsense, rotten guesswork presented as fact. Castillo had played 10 seasons in the NL for the Marlins before playing two for the Twins in the AL. He was the Marlin who, in the 2003 NLCS, hit the infamous fly ball to spectator Steve Bartman — at Wrigley Field.

Later, when play-by-play man Jon Miller gently told Morgan that Castillo had played in the NL, Morgan ignored him.

But Joe Morgan carried on and so, too, will Alex Rodriguez.

So the question becomes: If we know better than to hire commentators with profound integrity deficits, why wouldn’t TV executives be at least as vigilant and protective of their names, reputations and networks?

What’s the upside? What’s the message?

Why even pretend MLB’s not all about greed?

Some questions for MLB commissioner Rob Manfred:

Given that 30,000 attended Saturday afternoon’s Mets-Nationals game — in very cold weather — why did approximately only 12,000 attend Sunday’s Mets-Nationals? Could it be because it began at 8:08 p.m. on a 35-degree night, as per ESPN’s purchased orders? Was money — greed — not the determinant for such illogical scheduling?

Why did so few people east of the Mississippi, and especially in the Washington and New York areas, have no reasonable shot to see the end of that game even if it went nine innings? It went 12, finishing at 12:15 Monday morning in an empty ballpark. Might greed have been the reason?

Why, in the span of four Mets games, did two — ESPN’s late Sunday nighter and the Facebook-only number on April 4 — largely go unseen in New York, the nation’s largest TV market? Was greed not the reason?

But as long as the independent baseball media ignore such betrayals of The Game, common sense and common decency — vastly underrepresenting devoted fans — MLB will continue to interpret its shamelessness as widely approved.

Yoenis Cespedes’ RBI single in the 12th inning Sunday proved the game-winner in front of the remaining fans in frigid Washington.Ron Sachs

So the sportswriter sarcastically suggested to Doc Emrick that his next “Doc’s Scrapbook” on NBC should feature goalie Cesare Maniago, who played parts of two mid-1960s seasons for the Rangers before becoming a regular with the expansion Minnesota North Stars.

Then, Saturday, during Rangers-Flyers, there he was on NBC: Cesare Maniago, playing for the Rangers.

Emrick explained: “I’m a sucker for old, grainy footage.”


He still has the gift. Since Mike Francesa’s appearance with Chris Russo on MLB Network, during which Fran-say-so authoritatively declared the Yankees will “count their blessings” they didn’t sign Japanese star Shohei Ohtani — Ohtani was spotty in spring training — the Angels pitcher’s MLB career stands at 2-0, with a 2.08 ERA, after allowing just four hits and striking out 18 in 13 innings.

If form holds, Francesa, at the next public opportunity, will claim he never said such a thing, that he knew from the start Ohtani is special.

Devil of a time finding Game 4

With NBC unwilling to provide the NHL with one of its other cable channels, Game 4 of the Devils-Lightning series is scheduled nationally on NBC’s limited-clearance Golf Channel (on MSG in the New York area). Between periods, perhaps we’ll get more of the silly “Tiger’s back!” hype. And we don’t mean Tiger Williams.


Why are the Rays about out of it after two weeks? Check the play-by-play sheets and box scores. By-the-new-book manager Kevin Cash refuses to maintain leads — even big ones — by again removing effective relievers to find the one opponents can hammer. The Rays, 3-9, logically should be 6-6.


Now Ray Lewis, as a FOX Sports employee, is providing Odell Beckham Jr. with God-sent lifestyle advice. A bachelor, Lewis has six children from four women.


Radio chronicler Dave Mager notes for us that Cubs broadcasts now include “uniform descriptions, brought to you by Benjamin Moore paints.”


Phillies reliever Jake Thompson, with a 19-1 lead Saturday, pitched three innings of one-hit relief to earn the save in a 20-1 final versus the Marlins. Thompson deserved it as he risked a record-breaking blown save.


Grated minds think alike: By Thursday morning, several readers had asked if Wednesday’s Padres-Rockies and Yankees-Red Sox brawls counted as visits to the mound.

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