April 22: Alex Rodriguez steps on the pitcher’s mound on his way back to third base after a foul ball in a game against the A’s. No one notices except Dallas Braden, who screams at him twice before the inning is over.
While pleading ignorance, A-Rod defaults, of course, to childish insults:
"“I was a little surprised. I’ve never heard that, especially from a guy with a handful of wins in his career.”"
Braden, however, sees the importance of letting things go, and having said his piece, returns to his role as “quiet shadow-dancer” in the A’s rotation, allowing the incident to be forgotten:
"“It starts and ends today with me.”"
April 23-May 6: Radio show host and enthusiastic supporter of the letter “Y” Mychael Urban conducts an interview with Braden, allowing the lefty to inform the world not only what the area code of his hometown is, but how exactly they settle feuds there. No one is surprised to find out that arguments in “the 2-0-9” are never resolved via extravagant break dancing or John McCain trivia.
Braden, despite previous remarks about letting the whole thing go, seems to be hanging onto it for dear life.
"“There’s two ways that I can comment on that, and I’ll give you both of them. One, I was always told if you give a fool enough rope, he’ll hang himself, and with those comments, he had all the rope he needed. Two, I didn’t know there was a criteria in order to compete against A-Rod. I didn’t know that.”"
Meanwhile, the East Coast still doesn’t understand who Dallas Braden is, but most are willing to accept another reason to think/call A-Rod a total douche.
Braden allows his monstrous insecurities to thunder to the surface in a display that any psychiatrist or third grade recess monitor could tell you is a little embarrassing.
"“He’s right, I don’t even have a handful of wins. I have three. Do the math A-Rod.”"
Braden’s relentless description of his feelings sparks a discussion of baseball’s “unwritten rules” across the spectrum of sports talk shows and blogs. Namely, “What are these rules? Why should they be followed? Why aren’t they written down?”
Tim Kurkjian spends more then a few sleepless nights compiling a list and consuming dangerous volumes of adderall, all in the name of baseball. His mind officially absorbs the most baseball information in the world, and he is awarded a robe and wizard’s cap to commemorate the occasion.
May 7: The New York Post takes A-Rod in their arms and glares menacingly across the country at Braden.
"“Based on what Dallas Braden has done in the big leagues, he should concentrate on becoming a better pitcher instead of going after Alex Rodriguez and foolishly challenging the Yankee slugger to a fist fight.Yet, the As pitcher can’t keep his large mouth shut when it comes to Rodriguez.”"
May 9: My roommate shouts from the living room that “the guy who kept yelling at Alex Rodriguez threw a perfect game today.” I nod and continue searching for an Iron Man 2 torrent to download.
Somehow, a baseball game between the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays becomes all about Alex Rodriguez, as Dallas Braden’s grandmother decides, in all of her wisdom and maturity, to announce to the national media:
"“Stick it, A-Rod.”"
Not only was this merely the 19th perfect game in baseball history, there was a 0.001517% chance that it could happen; or 15.2 in a million. And yet, somehow, A-Rod’s name still warranted mention. From Dallas Braden’s grandmother. On Mother’s Day.
ESPN informs us, however, that Dallas Braden’s perfect game was merely a blip on the radar of baseball history, as Rodriguez answered with his own monumental achievement:
"“Rodriguez had his own accomplishment on Sunday. His solo shot in the fourth inning Sunday night tied him with Frank Robinson for seventh place all time with 586 home runs.”"
A-Rod, electing to not stick it, requested that the whole thing die down, because he’d like to get back to orchestrating his next act of assholism or epic collapse.
Meanwhile, alone in the Yankees locker room after being butchered by the Red Sox, A.J. Burnett offers his thoughts to no one as he watches Braden embrace his grandmother:
"“Grandma, don’t cross my mound.”"
Epilogue: The Asshole Side of Baseball
Here’s the thing. You could look at this big ‘ol mess and say “Who cares? They’re both wrong.” But the more accurate conclusion may be that they’re both right.
Look, A-Rod is an asshole. There’s not really any denying that. If anybody is going to be unaware of baseball etiquette, it’d be him. I imagine even Yankees fans are aware of his penchant for testing the limits of acceptable play, but accept him regardless, due to what he contributes to the lineup. It happens all over sports.
As a player: Precise, phenomenal, hall of fame
As a person: Whiny little bitch
As a player: Passionate, skilled, great receiver
As a person: Seems to cry a lot more than most professional football players
As a player: Mediocre at best
As a person: Loud mouthed wife-puncher
See, in some cases you don’t even have to be good to just be a universally accepted subpar human being. So Dallas Braden is not at fault for assuming A-Rod was just being A-Rod.
But, the difference here is that Dallas Braden is also an asshole. We just didn’t know it. He had to clear his throat and wave his hand in the air to be noticed, and that wasn’t going to happen if he just let A-Rod trot all over his mound. So, he garnered himself some attention and had that spotlight when, weirdly enough, he threw a perfect game. The two events aren’t really related, just… close together.
What we wind up with is two assholes who wanted to out-asshole each other, with the chest-bumping or knuckle-touching or whatever it is they do in the 209 taking a back seat as, out of the blue, the 19th perfect game ever thrown in baseball happens.
So, before the next invisible starter with a losing record decides he is going to be a first page, household name, it might be time to address one of those other “unwritten rules” of baseball, in regards to meaningless complaints and childlike bickering: