Baseball is a sport of quirky superstitions and unwritten rules. Alex Rodriguez found out the hard way about one of them on Thursday afternoon.
During the sixth inning of the Yankees-A’s game in Oakland, Rodriguez — on first base and running on the pitch – went past second on a foul ball off the bat of Robinson Cano. As Rodriguez jogged back to first, his path took him directly across the pitcher’s mound, much to the displeasure of A’s starter Dallas Braden. Braden, a 26-year-old lefty in his second full big league season, jawed at A-Rod during the contest, and tore into the three-time MVP while talking to reporters in the clubhouse after the game.
“[The Yankees] are an extremely classy organization with guys who always tend to do the right thing every time. It’s kind of disheartening to see that not show through or be reflected by somebody of [Rodriguez’s] status,” Braden said, according to media reports. “He’s a tremendous player and a tremendous talent, and I don’t care if I’m Cy Young or the 25th man on a roster. If I’ve got the ball in my hand and I’m out there on that mound, that’s not your mound. You want to run across the mound? Go run laps in the bullpen. That’s my mound.”
Rodriguez, however, pleaded ignorance.
“He just told me to get off his mound,” Rodriguez said. “I was a little surprised. I’ve never heard of that, especially from a guy with a handful of wins in his career. It’s not really a big deal. I didn’t know he was talking to me. I thought it was pretty funny actually. … I’ve never heard of that in my career.”
Braden wasn’t buying it.
“Well, now, he has [heard of it], you know?” Braden said. “I don’t go over there and run laps at third base. I don’t go over there. I don’t spit over there. I don’t spit over there. I stay away. You guys ever see anybody run across the mound like that? He ran across the pitcher’s mound, foot on my rubber. No. Not flying.”
It’s unclear if Rodriguez was actually offended because Braden, who has a much-less accomplished résumé, had the hubris to go after him, but the young southpaw — for his part — claims that he would’ve been upset regardless of who broke the supposed gentleman’s code.
“If my grandmother ran across the mound, she’d hear the same thing he heard, period,” Braden said. “That’s the way I handle the game. That’s the way I handle myself on my workday.”
Braden — who returned to his dugout and furiously kicked around some equipment — apparently expected an apology from Rodriguez. He was thoroughly disgusted with A-Rod’s failure to offer one.
“What do you think?” Braden asked. “The guy was tasting himself too long to apologize. No, he didn’t apologize. And it’s a shame. I have a lot of respect for that guy, everything he’s done in the game. It’s just disappointing when you see the other side of things.”
Braden also offered Rodriguez some advice on whose actions to emulate when he’s on the diamond.
“He should just maybe watch his captain a little more often,” Braden said, referring to Derek Jeter, who is considered a champion of baseball etiquette. “It doesn’t start and end with him over at third.”
Thursday’s contest, in which Braden outdueled CC Sabathia to give Oakland a 4-2 win, was the finale of the three-game series between the A’s and Yankees, so we’ll have to wait and see if anything more will come out of this. A-Rod’s next encounter with Braden likely won’t come until late in the summer, when the A’s head to the Bronx for a four-game series beginning on Aug. 30. A little chin music isn’t out of the question.
“I’m not really a speck on that guy’s radar but he’ll know after today that it might not be a good idea to run across the mound when I’m out there,” Braden said. “It’s not like I throw 95 [mph] and I’m going to hurt him. He’ll know I was there, though.”
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