Single page view By Tim Keown
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There used to be talk that Alex Rodriguez could challenge our conceptions of what a ballplayer can be, that his high-priced blend of grace, power and speed could put him up there with Bonds and Mantle and Mays in the discussions of baseball's best all-around, all-time player.

I don't know whether any of those assessments is still considered possible, but this is undisputed: A-Rod is destined to become the most psychoanalyzed player in the history of the game.

Alex Rodriguez
A-Rod needs to get a bigger head for all the people living in it.

Part of it is location (New York), money (you already know) and our obsession with comparisons (Jeter), but this guy has been dissected in every way possible from every possible angle. The fact that he's done a lot of it himself is no help, either.

It's enough to make you feel for the guy, really, because everybody wants to ascribe his performance to a different theory. In turn, he can't get out of his own way.

The latest? After Sunday's game he attributed some or most (who really knows the percentages that lurk inside men's souls) of his trouble this year to the fact that he's been playing with a bunch of injuries. This was news to everybody (maybe even to A-Rod himself) and so he was asked to elaborate on the extent and location of the injuries.

Fair enough question, it seems.

He refused to answer.

How weird is that? Even the guys on the YES Network thought it was weird. A-Rod himself might have thought so too, but he was unavailable for comment. Probably visiting his shrink somewhere, or reading the daily affirmation sent to him by his life coach.

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His only mistake? He didn't go far enough in criticizing the sham that is the NFL preseason: After suffering a separated shoulder Sunday, Clinton Portis said, "I don't know why myself or any other player of my caliber should be playing in the preseason."

Think of it this way: If college teams can start playing games that count right away, why can't the NFL?

Oh, that's right -- we forgot this part: The NFL can't start playing games that count because then it would lose out on the massive cash cow that is four meaningless preseason games sold to season-ticket holders at full, regular-season prices.

Speaking of exhibitions: We got the point the other night, but from now on Reggie Bush might want to take it out of bounds.

Good thing the league didn't know he was wearing an unofficial T-shirt or else Tagliabue would have made him write "I love Reebok" on the chalkboard 100 times: In another one of the NFL's signature moves, Bush was given a fine believed to be $10,000 for wearing adidas shoes during his first exhibition game.

Way more airtime than deserved, year after year after year: Warren Sapp.

Being amazed by the salaries of professional athletes is a pastime that we all got over many years ago, but sometimes something happens to make you look at the world anew again: Drew Gooden, 10 points and eight rebounds a game, signs for three years and $23 million.

And now, this week's nominee for most overused and tiresome phrase: "That's just Manny being Manny."



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