Did frustration lead to the f-bomb?   

Updated: July 5, 2007, 10:33 AM ET

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It was interpreted as a ploy for attention, which is a hilarious claim considering the vigilance with which the New York media attacks. Its predators always accuse their prey of begging for attention, even though they're the ones doing the stalking.

But Cynthia Rodriguez's curious -- OK, bad -- decision to wear a T-shirt to Yankee Stadium with the words "f--- you" printed on the back shouldn't be perceived as a look-at-me move. Well, not entirely. It should be construed as a comeback that New York City did everything in its power to earn.

Cynthia and Alex Rodriguez

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Did the Rodriguezes have any idea what they were getting into when Alex was introduced as a Yankee on Feb. 17, 2004?

Being Mrs. A-Rod has its drawbacks. It's unlikely she's over waking up to those photos of her very rich, very talented, ballplayer husband leaving a strip club with another woman. Sure, it was stupid for New York's highest-paid athlete to think that situation wouldn't be reported heavily, but when it comes to the A-Rods, the lines of decency were crossed long ago.

The media stakes out their home, and they routinely are assassinated in print. Let's just say an f-bomb T-shirt probably doesn't even begin to cover Mrs. A-Rod's emotions.

Understandably, Mrs. A-Rod's patience is stretched a little thin. I'm not saying wearing a T-shirt with the f-bomb on it is in any way mature, and the wife of A-Rod should know better, but couldn't you understand the tiniest little bit why she felt that way?

The real surprise is that she doesn't have a middle finger branded on her forehead. I certainly don't envy the parents who might have been sitting in the vicinity of Mrs. Up Yours' freedom of expression. One fan told the New York Post a father angrily left the ballpark after seeing the shirt, and several fans alerted security that profanity had run amok.

An f-bomb dropped at Yankee Stadium? Impossible! The horror! The shame! I'm sure that neeeever happens in such a fine, upstanding, curse-free zone.

Ballpark policy prohibits profane signs and banners. Surely Mrs. A-Rod wasn't the first to wear an obscene T-shirt to the park, or in general society, for that matter. Although you can bet if one of Derek Jeter's babes of the moment wore something obscene, Yankee fans would pat her on the back.

Nobody feels any sympathy for Mrs. A-Rod because when she signed up to be there in sickness and health, she also got millions and perks you or I could never imagine. None of us likes to be judged based on our income, yet we're all certainly a little bit guilty of using A-Rod's paycheck as an excuse to demonize him and his family. For some reason, we seem to think his $252 million contract will soothe whatever is dished his way, forgetting that he endures an absurd number of personal attacks for a player of his caliber.

Of course, I expect some of you to accuse me of pulling the gender card, saying I wouldn't defend a man who behaved like Mrs. R. Hey, if Stedman Graham -- Oprah's longtime beau -- wears an f-bomb T-shirt, he has my complete understanding. If I'm Tom Brady, whose personal life is reported with the same doggedness as Paris Hilton's, I'm asking A-Rod's wife whether she can get me an XXL.

There is also a big difference between Mrs. A-Rod's verbal middle finger and Michael Vick flipping the bird to fans in the Georgia Dome this past November after a fourth straight Falcons loss.

Both definitely are acts of frustration. But Vick had a list of transgressions. His finger incident, in the midst of a disappointing 7-9 season, was followed by Aquafina-gate. Unlike Vick, A-Rod at least is having a MVP year, which has done little to diminish the criticism. The A-Rods never have enjoyed the kind of unconditional, cultlike love Vick has in Atlanta. Of the parties in question, the right to say "f--- you" belongs to the Rodriguezes.

It's easy to say Mrs. A-Rod should be above such pettiness, especially as she has a 2-year-old she probably doesn't want to ever use such language.

But if there is one thing New Yorkers should be able to understand, it's being told to kiss off. Although the best middle finger the A-Rods could provide is opting out at the end of the season.

Page 2 columnist Jemele Hill can be reached at jemeleespn@gmail.com.


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