RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Let's turn to sports news now. Spring training is underway for Major League Baseball. Commentator Frank Deford predicts a chilly reception this year for a player who was one of the sport's biggest stars - Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees.
FRANK DEFORD, BYLINE: One of the very best all-time sports columnists was named Jimmy Cannon - wrote after Hemingway, tough-guy style. But Jimmy had a lot of original devices. One was an occasional column he'd do in what I call the second-person impersonal. For example, my favorite was a column on an aging hitting star when he was in a slump. Cannon began - your name is Stan Musial, and all your bats are broken. Now, that's a column.
And so in honor of Jimmy Cannon, your name is Alex Rodriguez, and nobody likes you. Your teammates could just never put up with you, A-Rod. The media thought you were a phony, and eventually, everybody knew you were a liar. Even the Yankee fans have no more need for you, old Rod, because you're nearing 40, a going-to-be has-been if you're not already an already-been - a drag on the pinstriped payroll, even if it was the Yankees who were the nitwits who gave you the contract.
It should have been so easy, Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez. You were blessed with great talent, good looks. And eventually, you were awash in beautiful women and more money than the everyday Russian oligarch. You even had that neat nickname with the capital letter and the first syllable last name, like J-Lo, before they became imitated and cliched for every dime-a-dozen mortal. But who knew that even a fairytale prince could be so insecure as to start taking a magic elixir? Some fairytales can last a lifetime. But even fairytale princes should know that they have to grow old. You missed that part, Alex.
We had some time together once - TV interview. You wanted it because you had a couple of points to make - fair enough. You were late, but then a lot of sports stars are. But it was outdoors, so the crew had to change the lighting. And so we had to sit, the two of us, and make small talk. It was not easy. The producer helped out. He stepped in and told A-Rod that I had a new baseball novel out. A-Rod didn't ask what it was about or anything natural like that. He just announced that he too was a writer - had a children's book out. And he told me all about writing it. It would have been like me telling him, in detail, how I scratched out an infield hit in a JV high school game.
When the lighting was set, he answered the two questions he'd come to answer and then left. He thought he'd knocked it out of the park, impressed everyone. But the crew just laughed at how he couldn't shut up about his children's book. Your name is A-Rod, and you just never did get it. And now there never was a fairytale, either.
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