This charming/sad story about an Alex Rodriguez dining experience in Kansas City reveals something. I'm just not sure what it is.
Look. I pretty much hate all sports stories that start with anecdotal evidence and end with psycho-analytical evaluations and/or accusations. We see it all the time, and mostly it just confirms the existing, mostly-prejudicial narrative around a player.
He's generous and loving and thus he's a great teammate; look at all these charities this player is supporting; I heard this player hit his wife, which kinda goes with his gangster tattoos; this guy got arrested for drunk driving/what a thug; this guy got arrested for drunk driving/what a redneck. You know the people and stories and cliches I'm talking about.
But holy crap this one about Alex Rodriguez at a Kansas City restaurant some years back is HILARIOUS:
Sure enough, after making sure A-Rod would have a table in a corner of the restaurant, a table that would afford him some measure of privacy, a table that would keep him somewhat away from the screaming masses who were sure to lose their minds when he entered the restaurant, A-Rod entered the restaurant and was guided quickly and quietly to a section of the dining room.
This seemed surreal since I had friends at a Kansas City rib joint a few years earlier who looked up to find the President of the United States standing at their table. Bill Clinton worked the room, smiling and shaking hands, then sat down with some baseball writers to have lunch.
Anyway back to A-Rod. There was just one problem with the care that was taken to guaranteed his security in Kansas City that day, and looking back on it now, it seems a little bit astonishing and a little bit sad. No one—and I mean no one—recognized him. There was zero buzz. There were no fans desperately trying to get a moment of his time. All that happened that day was A-Rod had lunch.
"He has to be crushed," one of the guys at my table said.
The anecdote goes on to compare A-Rod to various other Yankee greats, which may or may not be fair. But the narrative here is clear: nobody recognized Alex Rodriguez and he was humiliated.
Might I disagree for a moment? Some notes:
This story takes place in Kansas City, a city noted for basically not giving a shit about celebrity. Eat our barbeque, don't break the laws, call us great fans and our city a nice place to live, we'll stay out of your hair. True, there's not exactly that many celebrities around town, but KC has never really been celebrity-hungry.
Our big local football hero, Len Dawson, made regular appearances at a local car dealership for years and basically nobody cared. Our big local baseball hero, George Brett, can be spotted regularly around The Plaza, nobody bothering him. My wife spotted Mike Sweeney shopping for lettuce at a local Price Chopper. (I'm not sure that's relevant but she'd be proud to be included in a #crackerjacks take). I once served U.S. congressman Emanuel Cleaver II at a local Chili's (bad tipper), and I met the 2nd-most famous Royal, Frank White, at a car dealership. Nobody else cared.
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Our most famous current celebrities are on SNL or making movies about being 40. Yet I'm pretty sure when they come home, nobody cares. It's just a thing here. We don't give a shit if you're famous or awesome at a sport. Do your job and mind your business.
So when I read this story about A-Rod being humiliated because nobody bothered A-Rod at Houston's at The Country Club Plaza in Kansas City (which is a bit like saying: the nicest Applebee's in the nicest area of town, populated by rich old hags pretending to be in their 40s and rich old men completely ignoring them), color me skeptical. I think it's much more likely that whichever citizens were there:
1) Did recognize him and didn't care;
2) Did recognize him and were being polite;
3) Did recognize him and didn't like him;
4) Noticed the guy with the entourage and didn't care.
I'm not calling this anecdote a lie, misstated, or fabricated, but perhaps a bit misinterpreted in the effort of advancing the supposed social pariah narrative about A-Rod.
I know none of my own anecdotes above could ever match the awe-inspiring aura of celebrity that A-Rod carries. It's just that I challenge anyone to find a story about a celebrity, beloved or be-hated, getting swarmed in social settings around Kansas City. We just don't care that much.
So yeah, I'll buy A-Rod is a complete douche and everybody hates him and he has no idea how to function around normal people because he's never been around them. I just don't think this counts as evidence.
p.s. Apologies for the mostly-serious #crackerjack