tampabay.com

20 reasons why A-Rod should join the Rays

By GARY SHELTON, Times Columnist
Published November 2, 2007


His bank account is about to grow to ridiculous proportions. Why then does everything else about Alex Rodriguez seem to grow smaller by the second?

If you listen to public opinion these days, Rodriguez is a narcissist. He is a phony. He cares about the wrong things at the wrong times, and he is making the wrong move for the wrong reasons. He is the seven deadly sins blended and poured into a pair of baseball cleats.

All in all, when you consider that Rodriguez is the finest baseball player on the planet, you would have to say his reputation is in tatters. On a performance to perception platter, it has been a long time since any great player had a worse image.

Which is why I am here to help.

Alex, I am here to offer you a contract ... with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Wait, wait. Don't hang up. Think about this for a second. Let the possibilities sink in. Allow the laughter to subside. Why, this could be the perfect situation for you. Really.

I know, I know. The world expects you to land in Los Angeles or Chicago or elsewhere in New York in one of those A-division major-league teams. That way, there are plenty of cameras, plenty of glitz, plenty of fans ready to tithe to help pay your salary.

Yeah? Well, that's the easy way. This would be a better one. Think of yourself as, say, Ben Affleck. You've tried the Hollywood Blockbuster career path, and it didn't work. The Rays could be your small independent film to show everyone you are a dedicated artist.

In fact, I can think of 20 reasons why the Rays are perfect for you.

1. Let's be honest, Alex. The world thinks you are only about the coin. And that's not true. You're about the bills. Sign with the Rays, and no one would ever suggest you came here for the money. There isn't any.

2. Just kidding. On behalf of the Rays, I am prepared to offer you a $300-million contract. Not only that, but you only have to play for 300,000 years to get it.

3. Free parking!

4. As it turns out, the Rays are about to change their uniforms. Have you ever imagined your face on the team cap? What's that? You have? Well, Alex, this is your chance to make it happen. And instead of a number, we can put a large dollar sign on the back of your jersey.

5. Think about it. The Tampa Bay Devil Rods. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

6. As far as all of those questions about your playoff performance. Not a problem, Alex. Not a problem.

7. Yes, you can play shortstop. The rest of the infield is willing to be called "the Rodettes."

8. Remember the scandal when your wife wore the T-shirt with the obscene message on it to a game? Around here, that wouldn't be a big deal. Everyone would just think she was from Orlando.

9. Where else could you have the satisfaction of knowing that you, personally, have increased attendance by 408 fans. Some games, that's almost double!

10. No state income tax!

11. Around here, we are naive. We think that a 54-home run, 156-RBI season is pretty good.

12. You are a short drive away from having lunch with George Steinbrenner. If you are lucky, perhaps he will pick up the check.

13. There is a tax around here called "Penny for Pinellas." I am certain that Scott Boras, your agent, could get it changed to "Penny for a Prima Donna."

14. If you want, you can rename the rings of the catwalk. You could call the big one "Alex." You could call the small one "Derek." Just for old time's sake.

15. You can have the only locker in Major League Baseball with a mirror on the ceiling.

16. In New York, you were compared to Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio. Here, you would be compared to Grieve, Clyburn and Castilla. It isn't exactly the same mountain range.

17. If you trust what you read, we can guarantee that you will not have a locker next to Curt Schilling. That ought to be worth millions.

18. If this works out, we will name schools after you. How about "Self-Absorbed Middle School."

19. This one is a little personal, Alex, but from reading the New York Post, it seems you like the hubba-hubba clubs. I have two words for you, Alex: Joe Redner. He's the Steinbrenner of strip clubs.

20. Free Storm tickets!

So have your guy call me, Alex. Maybe in the middle of the Super Bowl. Maybe during a presidential debate. Who knows? Maybe you can even upstage Christmas.

The Rays will be waiting by the phone.

Um, just don't call collect, okay?

Gary Shelton can be reached at (727) 893-8805.