- Andrew Marchand, ESPN Senior Writer
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OAKLAND -- Alex Rodriguez could turn Edward R. Murrow into a paparazzo.
Just a little more than a week ago, the media were following A-Rod around in Hollywood to see whether he would speak to his ex-manager, Joe Torre.
Torre had criticized Rodriguez in his book, written with Tom Verducci, using words like "A-Fraud" and relaying stories of A-Rod's not being one of the guys. And it burned A-Rod to the point that he played down the Yankees-Dodgers series as if it were just another three games out of 162.
It took three days, but A-Rod and Torre finally spoke, and the circus moved on.
Now, the A-Rod soap opera arrives here in Oakland, where two months ago A-Rod was criticized once again for his preening ways.
Rodriguez basically dismissed Braden as a little man in a big man's game, implying he didn't have the credentials to speak up. They had their give-and-take -- A-Rod tried to move on to his next tête-à-tête.
But then Braden made reference to his hometown of Stockton, Calif. -- the 209, as Braden called it, denoting its area code -- and how he might have to settle things with his fists, while Rodriguez tried to stamp out any controversy, saying he didn't want to extend Braden's "15 minutes of fame."
The words had barely escaped A-Rod's lips when the unknown Braden pitched a perfect game May 9. While Braden fired the perfecto, the Yankees were in Boston -- and A-Rod, it seemed, was giving updates on his feelings about it every 20 minutes. After A-Rod hit a homer in a win over the Red Sox, he cried "uncle" following the game, saying he was all out of Braden talk.
And now A-Rod is back in Oakland. Braden (4-7, 3.83 ERA), however, was just put on the disabled list on Saturday with a bad elbow, and he hasn't won a game since his Mother's Day perfect game.
Still, the question of the day as the media keeps an eye on A-Rod is: Will Braden and Rodriguez speak? Will there be a faux fight, like when he finally talked with Torre? Will Braden really want to show Rodriguez the 209?
It would seem unlikely that the injured Braden would want to trade punches with Rodriguez. But then again, what would have been the Vegas odds that the pitcher who would go ballistic over Rodriguez's running across the mound after a popout would also throw a perfect game?
And that the pitcher's grandmother, moments after the perfecto, would chime in on her son's recent spat with the highest-paid athlete in American team sports by saying, "Stick it, A-Rod."
It added a little more drama to the Mother's Day tale of her grandson, who lost his mother to cancer when he was a senior in high school -- and to the tiff that A-Rod, 3,000 miles away in Boston, was trying to extinguish.
Rodriguez has gotten much better at handling these situations, though he still has a way of extending their 15 minutes. On the night that Braden threw the perfect game, Rodriguez tried to escape without talking about it anymore. With the grandma having told him to "stick it," Rodriguez could have chosen a lot of ways to say he was done with it. But the word he used was perfect -- well, at least for anyone writing a story.
"Uncle," Rodriguez said.
It was as if the whole thing was scripted -- Rodriguez responding to Braden's grandma with "uncle." But the A-Rod reality show is like "The Surreal Life." It's hard to believe, unless you've watched it yourself. Once you do, no one seems to be able to take their eyes off the spectacle.
Especially if you are part of the paparazzi, er, baseball media, chronicling A-Rod and all his supporting actors. This week, the show is in Oakland. Stay tuned.
7hMatt Walks, ESPN.com