Carroll: A-Rod at 40

A year ago at this time Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was in the middle of serving his one-year suspension for his use of performance enhancement drugs. Both Yankees management and the Major League Baseball Players Association had been threatened with lawsuits by his legal representatives months earlier before Rodriguez wisely decided to drop plans for litigation. Daily News baseball scribe Bill Madden was all but guaranteeing that Alex would never wear a Yankees uniform again.

Even those who were willing to give Alex a second chance a year ago were wondering if the year away from baseball for a guy who was turning 39 would atrophy his baseball skills. The Yankees were concerned enough about that factor that they acquired third baseman Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres last summer and signed him to a long-term contract. The message to Rodriguez was to accept the fact that he would be a designated hitter if he wanted to collect what was left on his lucrative contract.

A-Rod will turn 40 next Monday and it’s safe to say that he’ll be enjoying the milestone. He had such a good first half of the season that many thought that he deserved to be on the American League All-Star team. The same Yankees fans who were hoping never to see #13 again now cheer him and cite him as a key reason that the Yankees were in first place in the AL East at the All-Star break.

At last week’s ESPY Awards Rodriguez showed the world that he can laugh at himself. One of the best bits of the show was bringing Alex on stage pretending to be as mute as Marcel Marceau while actor Ken Jeong read a list of things for which A-Rod was apologizing. To host Joel McHale’s mock consternation, Rodriguez issued mea culpas via his spokesman, Jeong, for “the water shortage in California” and “the Greek economy” but nothing of course was said about steroids.

Naturally you can’t write about the ESPYs without mentioning Caitlyn Jenner. Yes, Astoria native and NBC sportscaster Bob Costas was right. ABC, which televised the ESPN event, knew that Jenner would deliver ratings and that’s why she received the Arthur Ashe Award for displaying coverage. Nonetheless Jenner’s speech about the perils that the transgender population faces, especially its younger population, was quite moving. I didn’t think that there was anything exploitive with Jenner being honored by the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

The ESPYs also rightfully paid tribute to the late college basketball player, Lauren Hill, who succumbed to brain cancer at age 19 and dedicated her short life to raising funds so that the disease will hopefully be conquered; and to Cincinnati Bengals football player Devin Still who has had to put his career on hold to care for his young daughter who is battling pediatric cancer.

Former Mets Jason Phillips and Chris Woodward are both in their upper 30s and they are members of the Seattle Mariners coaching staff. They were back in town last weekend as the Mariners, who were led by former Yankees slugger Robinson Cano, took on the Bronx Bombers. “We watch a lot of Mets games on television so we know about their hitting struggles,” Phillips told me. Both guys chuckled and shook their heads no when I asked them if they would consider contacting Mets general manager Sandy Alderson for a tryout.

I asked Yankees rookie outfielder Mason Williams if he was aware of the musician and former Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour head writer who has the same name. “Oh yes, a few people made me aware of him. I checked out (his big 1968 instrumental hit) “Classical Gas” on YouTube. It’s a great tune,” he replied.

Keith Olbermann is notorious getting fired for generally ticking off some important television network executive. Ironically ESPN has cancelled his latest “Olbermann” talk show, which has been airing on its ESPN 2 channel at 5 PM daily, because of the most traditional of reasons–low ratings. Sure, Keith can be a pompous windbag, but I have always found him to be entertaining. His last show will air Friday afternoon.

ESPN also announced that Colin Cowherd will be leaving the network which means that there will be new programming in the weekday 10 AM to noon timeslot on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. It would be nice if ESPN could devote that time to local programming instead of yet another national show from Bristol.

My suggestion to ESPN executives is to bring in John “Bird” Crowe to fill those two hours. Crowe is a veteran from Connecticut’s WICC (600 AM) and he has a working man’s style that is reminiscent of WFAN’s Joe Benigno although it should be noted that Crowe has been in radio just as long, if not longer, than Benigno.

Colin Cowherd is rumored to be on his way to cable’s Fox Sports 1 and he may get air time on Fox’s Major League Baseball and NFL pregame and postgame shows.

With the heat of summer fully upon us, this is the best time to get out to the Jersey Shore. A great weekend getaway is to take in a day at the beach at Belmar and then catch a Lakewood Blueclaws game that night at beautiful First Energy Park. The Freehold Radisson is located an easy 30- minute ride away from the beaches which makes their weekend rates a lot lower than many other lodging properties in the area. It’s also a short drive from the hotel to Great Adventure and it’s just about an hour away from Philadelphia.

Men’s fashions have always gotten shrift during the fashion weeks that are held each September and February. The Council of Fashion Designers of America should be congratulated for finally establishing a separate New York Fashion Week for men which had its inaugural run last week. Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Nautica were among the many companies that had runway shows.

It will be interesting to see what kind of ratings Spike TV’s three-night miniseries, “Tut,” will draw. Spike, which is best known for mixed martial arts and “Lip Sync Battle,” is trying to step on the turf of both the History Channel and Nat Geo with “Tut.”

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