BOSTON —
Before Saturday’s game against the Red Sox, Alex Rodriguez cooled off
in the steamy Yankees dugout by pouring a cup of water over his head.

To
A-Rod’s right, a strip of rope and some warning-track dirt were all
that separated him from a group of fans standing on the field. They
were calling to him, begging for his attention, angling for his
autograph.

They would get not so much as a glance from Rodriguez
as he shook off the dripping water, walked up the dugout steps and
headed to the batting cage.

So the fans turned their attention to the next Yankee who wandered by.

Like A-Rod, they moved on quickly.

Remember
how back in February, we all were worked up about the reception
Rodriguez would get in visiting ballparks, Fenway Park especially,
after his past steroid use was revealed?

Many breathless words
were spoken about it on ESPN, the worldwide leader in covering a story
so thoroughly that after watching for a few hours, you want to hurl
your TV down an elevator shaft. (Did you see the recent Brett Favre
coverage? Someone really needs to start a letter-writing campaign to
free Rachel Nichols.)

That’s not to say ESPN is the only one to
blame. Many good trees died so newspaper columnists could speculate on
how A-Rod would handle this expected torrent of gleeful hate from Red
Sox Nation. Predictions were made, calendars were circled.

Every
indiscretion is fodder for taunting in the Yankees-Red Sox nexis.
Remember, Red Sox fans once wore blonde bimbo masks to Fenway when
A-Rod was in the news for being seen with a friend who was not his
wife. And they are the same people who loved to chant “ster-oids” at
Jason Giambi every chance they got, not that Giambi cared.

But
A-Rod, we thought, is a little more sensitive than Giambi. With all of
the extra attention on Rodriguez, regular-season road games could turn
into October-type pressure. And we know October is not A-Rod’s favorite
month.

Except . . . a few funny things happened on the way to the razzfest.

First,
A-Rod had hip surgery, so he missed the Yankees’ initial trek to Fenway
in April. It was a much-needed step back for everyone, Rodriguez most
of all.

Then Manny Ramirez got pinched for using a banned
substance in May. Even though Manny is a Dodger now, Red Sox fans
wondered about the legitimacy of the 2004 and 2007 world championships
and braced for something worse.

Something worse came July 30 when
a report surfaced about a positive test by David Ortiz in 2003. The
moral high ground in Boston suddenly was gone. A-Rod moved back another
spot on the Most Recently Shamed List.

Two weekends ago, fans at Yankee Stadium chanted “ster-oids” at Big Papi.

This
weekend, as the Yankees and Red Sox traded blowout wins in the first
two games of this series, A-Rod has been just another disliked New
Yorker, no more or less important than the obnoxious fans in Yankees
jerseys who have jammed this city and are crowing about the Yankees’
expected AL East crown. Saturday’s 14-1 Red Sox romp shut them up for
at least one day.

A-Rod went 4-for-4 with a walk in the Yankees’
20-11 win Friday and 1-for-3 Saturday. He played only six innings in
the latter game. No one was talking about him, other than wondering if
he is over the 6-for-43 slump he brought to Boston.

Rodriguez
said in spring training that he wanted to move on and just be a
baseball player. Shockingly, it appears as if that’s exactly what has
happened, and here of all places. Fenway has become a glass house, and
Red Sox fans have put away their stones.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.