Thursday, February 19, 2009
A Better Press Conference: Alex Rodriguez's Answers, Rewritten
Being a good liar is all about being a good truth teller; Alex Rodriguez has failed to learn this lesson over a career where, no matter how he struggles, he's never met the credibility/authenticity.
Think of him defending the slap play.
Think of him accepting, "gratefully," the captaincy of the Texas Rangers in the brief limbo between the death of the Red Sox trade and his move to New York.
Think of any comments you can when he and Boras voided his infamously massive contract in an obvious effort to upstage the World Series. Actually, better still, don't think of that last one. It angers the blood.
And now, think of what you've seen of the Alex Rodriguez story from Alex Rodriguez's own words, between the bullshit 60 Minutes interview, the equally bullshit Peter Gammons interview, and the possibly lesser bullshit presser from earlier this week. Try to connect the story, between those three, without making judgments on what belongs and what doesn't. I did, and here's what I came up with.
Yep. I came up with Cats' Cradle on steroids, my hands hopelessly tied, none of my neighbors are helping me out, and I'm Daniel Day-Lewisin' like a motherfucker to write this post.
You can't untie a Gordian knot, you can only slice it. So I took notes during the presser and came up with better answers to the 26 questions/labors made of Alex Rodriguez. Let's go for something plausible, consistent, and everything else that ol' A-Hole won't be. Let's try it again.
(Note: I took notes, not a transcript. Nothing is exact here.)
Reality: Alex Rodriguez is 20 minutes late to his own hanging.
Rewrite: Do not antagonize the press. A-Rod shows up fifteen minutes early in a very nice suit, with several copies of his resume printed on an excellent, high-stock paper, and a box of chocolates just in case his old friend Selena Roberts is around. That's how you get the job, my boy!
Question 1: Would you have made this confession on your own?
Reality: A-Hab answers, "I haven't thought of it."
Rewrite: Haven't thought of it? Of course not. That's still not an answer, and in the Q&A format, it's not supposed to be that obvious you aren't answering it. Haven't thought of it? Do you have a brain currently attached to your lips, or do those blue motherfuckers flap on their own, like a lizard's tail flapping around after being cut from the body? If there's a brain there, think of an answer! Such as the honest one. "Hell nah. Next question?
Question 2: You said you did it feeling the pressure of being the highest paid athlete in Texas, but in pressurized New York, you discontinued? Why?
Reality: Some bullshit sob story boo hoo I never went to college, I didn't grow up, I had a neck injury (?), "Since then, I've realized that I didn't any of it."
Rewrite: Every time you say, "I didn't need any of it," as you did on the 60 Minutes interview, you increase the possibility of an insane fan stabbing you with a needle 0.95%, Rod. That's more than you think. This is like a rich man embezzling $320 million dollars and then telling the world, expecting forgiveness, "I realized I didn't need any of it." As your PR agent, I can't work with those words.
As for the question, which you didn't answer, why don't we go with something like,
"Over those three years, from my life, and from my mistakes, I learned a lot, and I knew I had to stop what I knew was wrong. New York was just a great chance for me to restart my career the right way in the greatest city on earth. (Cheers from Post and Daily News media, embarrassed applause from Times)"
Question 3: What was the benefit of taking it, and what did you notice it when you did stop?
Reality: "I'm not sure what the benefit was." (?!) Goes into horrible placebo prop humor. "If you take this glass of water and say you're gonna be a better baseball player, if you believe it, you probably will be.
Rewrite: (Sighs.) If you really didn't know, and it's possible, as some have said you didn't shoot your "Boli" enough for it to have its fullest effects, you've still gotta make something up. Say you didn't feel stronger but you did find you could work out more often. Say it gave you superhuman strength, but only to save people from burning buildings. Do NOT tell us that steroids' primary value is that of a glass of your magic water. We've seen Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa, and we're seeing you through a new set of lenses here too. Say something less than the truth, but say something.
(Although Line 3 says we might be able to market A-Rod's Magic Water. I'll get back to you on that.)
Question 4: Did you take a pill or was it injected?
Reality: "Injected." (Top notch! That reporter should be ashamed to have wasted his one question in a no-followups presser like that, but well-played. No rewrite needed.)
Question 5: Do you consider it cheating?
Reality: "That's not for me to determine." (Repeats some stuff from the Gammons interview)
Rewrite: Let's go back to the question:
You understand this word, I think.
"Do you consider"
This is a question directed to you, now.
"Do you consider it cheating?"
Oh! See, this means it's a question you were asked to determine!
I'm on the verge of taking the motherfucking Varitek job right now rather than continue to be your PR agent, Alex, and that guy is living on 2nd adjustable-rate mortgage borrowed time. We gotta answer the question somehow, although I know we can't say "I do consider it cheating, and I'm sorry." Let's go with, "I don't know about cheating, but I do know now it was wrong, and I apologize to the fans." Eh, good enough.
Question 6: Tyler Kepner of the Times: Quotes Jamie Moyer on A-Rod's lack of cred, trying to get a response.
Reality: "He's entitiled to that opinion. I understand their doubt, but there are things I can control, things I can't." (It's a dodge, but for right now, it's the best we can do, Rod. Good job. Don't forget to get into a brawl with Moyer in Spring Training though if he hits you with that 55 mph fastball.)
Question 7: George King of the Post asks, Was it this cousin of yours who transported the steroids, and what was his name?
Reality: Yes it was, and no, I won't give that name for relevancy reasons.
Rewrite: I can't help you. Wait, maybe I...
(Drinks half a fifth of Cutty Sark.) Remember when we had you sat down with Gammons, throwing you plush softballs? That woulda been a good time to get this info out, the name included. (Two days after, it came out anyway.) "Relevency" is an idiotic excuse in a quasi-investigation where everything is fair game, but....eh. (Drinks other half of the fifth.)
Question 8: How do you address parents who have to talk their kids about the fact that you profited from this?
Reality: Apologize, point to Don Hooten, make me almost believe you care, just like I trained you. Didn't I tell you that $20K to Hooten would be well-spent? I told you! A-Rod is for the chil'ren!
Question 9 and 10: Did you know it was steroids and did you consider the consequences?/ As someone who monitors everything that enters your body, how could you let something you didn't know in?
Reality: "I didn't know it was steroids. It was over-the-counter, it was pretty basic, and it was amateur hour...we probably didn't even take it right. I wish I knew. I was 24...I was 25..."
Rewrite: (Opens second fifth of Cutty Sark, hyperventilates into tote bag for a moment.) When I was 18, I nearly burned down a dorm stairwell, Rod, 'cuz I was young and dumb enough to leave unattended incense burning over a trash can. Black Cherry, I think. The cops let me go.
You know what I'd do if they came to me when I was 25 and I'd done some shit like that? I'd beg them to arrest me, or at least beat me on the head a few times. Anything to knock the dumb out of me.
25 (your age at that time) is young, but it's old enough to know better.
(Spills some whiskey waving the bottle around) I'm not rewriting this. It's your fault for saying you didn't know like people care, or aren't, in fact, more contemptuous of you for "not knowing." This isn't 1993, and with steroids you can't smoke but not inhale, you lil' bastard.
(Finishes half of the second fifth of Cutty.) What? Did you fill the syringe but only inject half? Did you smoke it? Or did you willfully keep yourself ignorant because you thought it might be handy at a time like this to have deniability? How's that working out for you?
(Douses self in Cutty Sark, pulls out Zippo) I quit.
CBSSportsLine.com screen capture courtesy of Deadspin.