Material man, like asteroids,
falls with a blast. Can’t last. Steroids
made sure he’d end up as a goner,
sans reputation. Will Madonna
help her rod of steroid valor
recover in the eyes of fans,
by legalizing through Kabbalah
what the baseball bible bans?
A man who once was like a god,
has fallen sharply like a star,
stopped by steroids, like a rod
chastising those it won’t disbar.
Lynn Zinser writes about an article on Alex Rodriguez in Details magazine by Jason Gay, with an eye-opening photo shoot by Steven Klein, “Confessions of a Damned Yankee” (“Rodriguez’s Last Exposure,” NYT, March 17, 2009):
For Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez, the timing of a cover story (“Confessions of a Damned Yankee” by Jason Gay) and eye-opening photo shoot by Steven Klein for Details magazine could hardly have come at a less opportune time. He had agreed to it in late December, when it seemed like a good, mainstream way to raise his fashionable profile. Instead, he sat for the interview on the day he found out Sports Illustrated reporter Selena Roberts would write he had tested positive for steroids in 2003. For Details, of course, the timing felt altogether serendipitous. An athlete profile turned out to be a window into the biggest, messiest sports story of the year. “You look at the pictures and you have to wonder what he is thinking,” said Alex Bhattacharji, the editor in charge of the story and photos. “He was totally at ease. It led us to believe he was either relieved it was coming out or he didn’t realize it would come out so soon. We either lucked into or fell into the time period that adds a head-scratching element to the whole question of who Alex is.” Gay’s story describes Rodriguez’s relaxed state of mind as he knew the Sports Illustrated story was imminent. He was taking no frantic phone calls and did not hint at the turmoil that was about to hit. Gay detailed how Rodriguez drank shots of Patrón and posed without complaint for photos that would set off alarm bells in the minds of many image-conscious athletes. The interview, Gay said, was classic guarded A-Rod, but the photos were altogether different. Klein and creative director Rockwell Harwood chose the setting, a bare-bones gym in Tampa with mattresses strewn on a concrete floor, and suggested the poses. Bhattacharji said Rodriguez had every opportunity to decline any of the shots, but did not. He did not take his shirt off, but chose a sleeveless one. “We thought he was getting to a different level of comfort with himself,” Bhattacharji said. “The picture of him kissing his reflection is very revealing. Is he in love with himself or is he kissing something goodbye?” A day later, Rodriguez was text-messaging Gay and nervously asking that he not write that Rodriguez had revealed his favorite Madonna song. He still said nothing about the steroid allegations. A few days later, Rodriguez looked markedly less comfortable as he admitted his performance enhancing drug use, which instantly became the backdrop for Gay’s story. The magazine is set to hit the newsstands soon, as baseball season approaches and Rodriguez searches for a way to manage in an even harsher spotlight.When Details first approached Rodriguez’ representatives and public relations handlers, including Guy Oseary, the manager he shares with Madonna, Rodriguez saw posing for a magazine aimed at fashion-conscious young men as a way to improve his image, said Bhattacharji. But Gay describes Rodriguez as decidedly un-hip. “Style-wise, he’s a little Fred Rogers, a little Jerry Seinfeld,” Gay writes.Now, in the eyes of the public, Rodriguez is a little Barry Bonds and a little, perhaps, Madonna.
© 2009 Gershon Hepner 3/17/09