I mean, I live in the NY region, read the sports pages daily, and study over every bit of information I can find about the Yankees, and yet I did not know he lived in Washington Heights when he was a child.
Could it be that the Red Sox-centric NY press loves to hate him?
It's hard to think of a superstar in recent years who gets so little respect from his own press, in which he has been referred to, at various times, as Nay-Rod, Pay-Rod, and A-Fraud. Alex Rodriguez, born in New York, perhaps the greatest all-around player of his generation, the greatest Latin ballplayer of all time, and the fifth-greatest player in Yankee history after Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Joe DiMaggio—in most areas of personal accomplishment he is either ahead of or close to DiMaggio—is practically without support in his hometown.
But as fans are beginning to realize, the New York press, infiltrated by Boston homies such as the Daily News' Mike Lupica and ESPN's Peter Gammons, is ridiculously Red Sox–centric. The New York Times, which owns a minority stake in the Red Sox, leads the pack. As Eric Wolff asked in New York magazine (January 9), "Has the Times Gone Red Sox Crazy?" From October 12, 2005, the first day of the Yankees' off-season, to the first week in January, there were 105 articles mentioning the Red Sox, two more than the Yankees and 26 more than the Mets. "The paper's Boston coverage can be absurd," Wolff wrote. "Witness its infamous October 2003 pro-Sox editorial"—endorsing the Red Sox for the World Series over the Yankees—"What's going on? Too many Harvard grads on 43rd Street?"
The eye-opener was how little support A-Rod got last year for his second MVP award, with many local writers clamoring for the Red Sox's David Ortiz. A-Rod was equal or superior to Ortiz in all hitting stats, and in the field and on the bases he made contributions that Ortiz, a DH and a liability anywhere but in the batter's box, couldn't begin to match. Yet after the award was announced, the Daily News headlined "More Bling, but No Ring," while the New York Post said "MVP But . . . Lack of Rings Tarnishes A-Rod's Second AL Trophy." That's the way it goes for Rodriguez; if his team doesn't win it all, his awards are "tarnished."
More puzzling, at least to English-speaking fans, is why Latin fans, even A-Rod's fellow Dominicans, don't regard him as one of their own. Kevin Baker, novelist and baseball fan, remembers being at a Yankees–Red Sox game two seasons ago in New York and talking to a Dominican family of four who were all wearing Red Sox shirts. Why, Baker asked them, weren't they rooting for the Yankees? "We love Manny!"—Ramirez—they replied. "He grew up near us in Washington Heights." Then why don't you root for the Yankees? Baker asked, since Rodriguez was born there. "They were dumbfounded," Baker says. "They didn't know A-Rod was born in the Heights."