Crowd thunder crescendos for A-Rod

Alex Rodriguez has been the best ballplayer on the planet for years. He was with Seattle. He was with Texas. And he is with the New York Yankees.More importantly in a sport flawed by steroids, A-Rod is the real, natural deal as far as anybody can tell. No pumped-up artificially bloated muscles. His body is the perfect piece of marble in no need of self-sculpting through chemistry.Still, Yankee fans, arrogant and elitist louts spoiled by decades of imperial reign and payrolls exceeding the national debt, have been slow to embrace Rodriguez since he joined New York a year.The Yankees have been Derek Jeter’s team. Although A-Rod, a better defensive shortstop, moved to third base to respect Jeter’s territorial imperative, it wasn’t enough. Nor was the fact that he has never worn his talent like a crown, despite the royalty of his $252 million contract.A-Rod’s public persona is one of Captain Cool. But I’m sure the tepid response by Yankee fans has caused a profound ache in his core, a hurt lingering in coals that not-so-subtle slights fan to heat.Of course, everything may have changed on a titanic Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. A-Rod, to put it mildly, was squeezing a bat so hot it glowed. The fluid motion with his bat was like an efficiency expert’s flow chart. He punctuated his eminence by smashing three homers, including a grand slam, and ripping a single en route to a torrid 10 RBIs as the Yanks bombed the Angels 12-4.Fans, fickle frontrunners all, worked themselves into a jubilant froth. They chanted “A-Rod! A-Rod!” until he stepped on the dugout’s top step and raised both hands overhead. You could spend a lifetime sifting through clues in the minds of fans, working on the unsolvable mystery of what makes ’em function exclusively on knee-jerk response and instant gratification.Believe it or not, A-Rod has been criticized for being too perfect. After all, every hair on the guy’s head evidently has agreed to lie perfectly in place for eternity. And he always says the right thing. He did it again Tuesday night.“Definitely tonight was one of those magical nights,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve hit three home runs twice before, but nothing feels as special as this, doing it in New York, doing it in the pinstripes.”I think A-Rod is genuine, not manufactured. Still, a little spontaneous flamboyance would help his image. The guy comes across as frigid even when he’s torrid. Nevertheless, at least we know he’s no imposter with a bat in his hands.

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