The other day, several baseball writers and I were talking about Alex Rodriguez, wondering how someone with so many advisers can make so many mistakes. One writer suggested that because A-Rod's choices always seem to turn out wrong, he would be much better off pulling a George Costanza and doing the exact opposite of his instincts.
Which got the wheels spinning ...
[Spring training, 2009. A-ROD has just finished facing the media to answer questions about taking steroids from 2001-03 and promising he will never, ever, EVER again take another performance-enhancing drug. Disappointed by the skeptical, lackluster reaction, he sits dejected by his locker. GEORGE COSTANZA, the Yankees' assistant traveling secretary, sits down next to him.]
A-Rod: Why has it all turned out this way for me? I had such promise. I'm talented. I've won three MVPs. I'm extremely intelligent. And I'm very handsome. But it doesn't matter. No matter what I do, everyone still likes [Derek] Jeter better than me. Even my ex-wife. No one likes me. It's as if every decision I've ever made, everything I've ever said in public, it's all backfired. Every instinct I have is wrong.
George: It's simple. Your problem has an easier fix than shifting Joba Chamberlain to a starting role. If every instinct you have is wrong, you should just do the opposite. Look at me. I was unemployed, broke, balding and living with my parents. Then I started doing the opposite of my instincts and now look at me! I'm the assistant traveling secretary of the New York Yankees.
A-Rod: You're still bald.
George: Yes, but I can get 20 percent off at any Ramada in the country.
A-Rod: And it's all because you do the opposite of what your instincts tell you?
George: It's that simple. When your gut tells you to turn right, hang a left.
A-Rod: Huh. Well, what do I have to lose? I mean, my image can't get any worse. From now on, I'm going to do the exact opposite of my instincts. In fact, I'm not going to take any HGH today.
[Later that season. A-ROD is in Central Park on a sweltering summer day.]
A-Rod: Man, it's hot. I'm gonna take my shirt off like everyone else and cool down. ... No, wait. That Yankee travel guy is right. I must do the opposite of my instincts. I'll keep my shirt on.
[We see the back page of the next morning's New York Post, which has a photo of A-ROD with his shirt on in Central Park and the headline: "A-CLASS!" An accompanying column says Rodriguez was "DiMaggio-like in his style sense by wearing a fashionable shirt in the face of a record heat wave. This is also an indication that Rodriguez is off the juice. Otherwise, he would have taken off his shirt to reveal his beefed-up body."
Boosted by the positive feedback, A-ROD hits for the cycle that evening and leads the Yankees to a victory. They go on to win the pennant and beat the Phillies in the 2009 World Series. A-ROD is named the MVP and also receives a seven-figure endorsement deal from J. Peterman to model their line of vintage shirts.]
A-Rod (in advertisement): Central Park was as sweltering as Mumbai's Crawford Market at midday -- or a July doubleheader in Arizona. Rivers of sweat flowed from even the ice cream vendor, as if he was facing CC Sabathia with an 0-2 count. But wearing my classic J. Peterman polo shirt, I remained as cool as the starting time of Game 6 of a World Series in Philadelphia.
[A-Rod's Manhattan penthouse. He is posing for NINA, SEINFELD'S ex-girlfriend who painted the KRAMER portrait.]
Nina: Excuse me? You want me to paint what?
A-Rod: I want you to paint a portrait of me as a centaur. Like in Norse mythology. Or is it Roman? Maybe Mayan. Well, one of those mythologies.
Nina: Seriously? You want a portrait of yourself as half-man and half-horse?
A-Rod: Yeah! And I'm gonna hang it above my bed.
Nina: You'll look like a loathsome, offensive brute.
A-Rod: But women won't be able to look away! ... No, wait. Dammit, I keep forgetting! I'm supposed to do the opposite of my instincts. So, let's bag that idea. And let's forget the whole portrait thing. Why not just paint a landscape instead?
[Weeks later. A-ROD is in bed with ELAINE.]
Elaine: That was even better than Keith Hernandez. When I would call out "Oh, God!" with him, he would say, "No, I'm Keith Hernandez." And I just love how you have a simple landscape above your bed instead of a big self-portrait. Your humility is the first thing that appealed to me. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to meet someone without an enormous ego. I mean, I once slept with a Yankee who sent me home with a gift basket and an autographed baseball.
[It's Super Bowl Sunday, 2011. A-ROD and CAMERON DIAZ are about to leave for the stadium to watch the big game in a luxury suite.]
Diaz: C'mon, Alex. We don't want to be late for the game. We paid a lot of money for that suite.
A-Rod: Yeah, I know, I know. But I still need to do the opposite of my instincts. What do you say we just stay at home and watch the game on TV? That way, I can get in some hitting before the Super Bowl.
Diaz: No, we paid big money for that suite. You stay here if you want, but I'm going to the game. And maybe I'll just go with someone else if you're too damn busy. We're done.
[The two break up. A-ROD stays home, takes extra BP, avoids highly caloric popcorn and goes on to hit .308 with 42 home runs and lead the Yankees to another world championship, earning the title of the new "Mr. October." DIAZ, meanwhile, goes to the Super Bowl with JETER, while ELAINE, JERRY, GEORGE and KRAMER watch the game in JERRY's apartment.]
Elaine: Look at that. Cameron Diaz is hand-feeding Derek Jeter popcorn in a luxury suite. Disgusting. What's wrong with Derek these days? At least Alex had the good sense to break up with her. I bet her breasts aren't real, either.
[Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS at Yankee Stadium. We see A-ROD and JETER in the dugout with the Yankees trailing Detroit 2-0 in the sixth inning.]
Jeter: Check out the Australian bikini models behind the dugout. We should get their numbers.
A-Rod: You're right. Talk about hot! What do you say I write "Wanna get way past second base with a couple Yankees?" on a baseball and hand it to them? ... No, wait. I need to do the opposite of my instincts. We need to focus on the game. Baseball comes first, Jetes, women second.
[Instead of handing the women a baseball, A-ROD grabs a bat and steps to the plate. He crushes a home run beyond the bullpen in left field to give the Yankees the lead and send the crowd into hysterics. They chant "WE LOVE A-ROD!" so loud the stadium walkways crack and crumble even more than they already have.
After A-ROD crosses home plate, JETER tells him to give the bat to the bikini models. He starts to do so but then changes his mind again -- "Do the opposite!" -- and tries to pull it back. But NEWMAN and KRAMER, who are sitting next to the women, grab the bat instead. During the ensuing tussle, JETER spits on NEWMAN, who pushes the shortstop to the ground, breaking JETER's ankle.
The Yankees win the game, New York sweeps the ALCS and then beats the Giants in the World Series. A-ROD is named the World Series MVP. We see him in the ticker-tape parade down the canyon of heroes, riding in a convertible with an Australian bikini model on one side and ELAINE on the other. His car veers suddenly as it passes NEWMAN and KRAMER, splashing them with water from a large puddle.]
[A-ROD is at a Miami nightclub, where he is talking with JERRY after his standup routine.]
Jerry: People talk about how big Barry Bonds' head got from using steroids, but what about Mr. Met? Look at that head. How come he's never linked to steroids?
[Biogenesis director TONY BOSCH, who has been eavesdropping, interrupts.]
Bosch: Speaking of which, I really think you should try out my wellness clinic, Alex. We're cutting-edge with some of our methods and supplements. I think we could really improve your performance. We've done wonders for Ryan Braun.
Jerry: Really? Braun sounded so honest when he swore he didn't do anything like that.
A-Rod: Well, if it worked for Ryan, sure. Your clinic sounds great. No matter how good a player you are, why not get better? ... No, wait a second. I keep forgetting. I've gotta go against my instincts. I should just keep eating Wheaties and cans of spinach and working out with my teammates at the Yankees' facilities. Thanks for the offer, though.
Bosch: Well, would you mind at least recommending us to some friends, though?
A-Rod: Yeah, sure. ... No, I think I'll pass.
Jerry: Something tells me you should probably unfriend him on Facebook, too.
[The stands at Citi Field. JERRY, GEORGE, ELAINE and KRAMER are watching the 2013 All-Star Game.]
Kramer: I can't believe [Jim] Leyland didn't wait to use [Mariano] Rivera for the ninth inning so he could get the save.
Elaine: But he couldn't take that chance. What if the National League rallied in the eighth inning and took the lead?
Jerry: Yeah, because you wouldn't want to use the greatest closer in history to stop a rally in the eighth inning.
George: They're honoring Mo, but they really should be honoring the greatest Yankee of them all: A-Rod.
[They all nod in agreement -- especially ELAINE.]
George: Not even I could have guessed that following my advice would turn A-Rod around so dramatically. He was a cheater and the most hated man in baseball. Then he started doing the opposite of his gut instincts, and now he's more popular than Jeter, who is so injury-prone he may never play again. A-Rod is the symbol of what every athlete should be. Even Red Sox fans wear his replica jersey.
Jerry: By the way, have you ever heard my routine about how that's what we're really rooting for at a game? The clothes. You are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city.
George: Except for A-Rod. People would cheer him no matter what uniform he wore.
Jerry: Yes. He's the best. The best there ever was. The best there ever will be.
Kramer: Hey, what's going on out there? What's the holdup?
Elaine: Some moron is running on the field. Why do people do that? Who could be so pathetic and desperate for attention?
Jerry: Wait a second. That person looks familiar. It isn't who I think it is, is it?
George: I'm afraid it is.