Sunday, August 22, 2010

Francisco Rodriguez Francisco Rodriguez #75 of the New York Mets poses during photo day at Tradition Field on February 23, 2009 in Port Saint Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Francisco Rodriguez

By Coral Marshall - Columnist

The spoilsport has always been a part of baseball, and with the rise and commercialization of sport and sports reporting there is something that draws the public towards watching these train wrecks. According to sports’ theorists TR Martland the spoilsport is someone “who physically occupies a designated position on the playing field but only pretends to enter its different world,” in other words, someone who chooses to play the game but by their own code of conduct (Martland 65).

The spoilsport has always been a part of baseball, and with the rise and commercialization of sport and sports reporting there is something that draws the public towards watching these train wrecks. The most commonly cited spoilsport in baseball is, and until recently always was Billy Martin. But Francisco Rodriguez’ ballpark antics earlier this week, may have taken the cake. Charles Barkley may have announced that athletes are not role models, but there seems to be a general code of ethics that states punching one’s own father-in-law while in the facilities is not appropriate behavior for any member of a Major League franchise.

It seems that Rodriguez may become the new archetype for the MLB spoilsport . Rodriguez is clearly a Major League talent with 268 saves over the past 8 Major League seasons. Angels’ fans (baseball fans as a whole to be more accurate) would be hard pressed not to recall K-Rod’s 2002 postseason, where his passionate pitching style and the heat that came with it became something that rookie legends are made of. And his single season saves record, will likely not soon be beaten. It is obvious that, K-Rod occupies his position to paraphrase Martland, but refuses to enter the world of maintaining his composure on the premises. Anyone who has seen Rodriguez pitch can attest to the emotional state the game puts him in, but by no means does this warrant a fistfight between family members. In a media crazed 2010 off the field activities indicate a spoilsport almost as much as on the field activities- as is evidenced by the Mets attempt to disregard Frankie’s contract.

Somehow, even with the atrocious behavior of this former Halo, one cannot help but think of other recent Angels’ who fit the bill for the title spoilsport.

First to mind is Jose Guillen. When the Angels signed Guillen in 2004 there wasn’t a fan who hadn’t heard of his hot temper, but his career high 104 RBIs along with 28 homers was nothing that Angels’ fans could comment on. And for the majority of the season, things seemed to go well- until the last home series against the A’s. Many will recall that when Scioscia pulled him for a pinch runner Guillen promptly decided to throw a temper tantrum in the middle of the field and was consequently benched. Again, Guillen, like Rodriguez, fulfilled the tenant of occupying his place on the field, but in his more traditional portrayal of the spoilsport threw a fit during the game. In another showing of poor sportsmanship, Guillen caused a ruckus the next season when visiting during interleague play and alerting umpires to look for pinetar on Brendan Donnelly’s glove- which resulted in a suspension for Donnelly.

Another short-term contract is that of Raul Mondesi. Another player with an adverse history, the Angels’ decided to take a chance on the former Dodger outfielder. Mondesi however didn’t even fulfill the tenant of playing on the field, as he didn’t even show up.

While the Angels are currently 7 games back, they can at least attest to having quality personnel within their clubhouse, as their haven’t been any reports of incidents of spoilsports on the team. Instead, it seems that this year everyone is willing to play the role that they are assigned, without their own ego getting in the way.

Martland, TR. Not Art and Play, Mind You, nor Art and Games, but Art and Sports. Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 19, No. 3.
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