Nobody got too bent out of shape over the tank top Cynthia Rodriguez wore to Yankee Stadium the other day, which might yet turn out to be a good thing.
The only reported casualty, in fact, was the notion that ballplayers’ wives were content being seen and not heard, and that was languishing on life support already.
Being a celebrity is apparently easier than ever and if you want a measure of how low the bar has dipped, try this:
A half-century or so ago, Yankee superstar Joe DiMaggio wound up playing second fiddle to his wife now and then, but she was Marilyn Monroe. On Monday, current Yankee superstar Alex Rodriguez woke up to find his wife on the front page of the New York Post for no other reason than the two-word obscenity – first word begins with “F,” second word is “You” – printed on the back of her shirt. The newspaper blurred the offending word, but helpfully topped the photo with the headline, “F-Rod.”
There’s no way to be sure whether Cynthia Rodriguez intended the message for anyone in particular, everyone close enough Sunday to decipher the Old English lettering squarely between her shoulder blades, or no one at all. She’s apparently not the first person to model that particular clothing line, but it’s doubtful the statement she had in mind was limited to fashion.
Cynthia Rodriguez was sitting in the players’ family section at the time, with the couple’s 2-year-old daughter and a friend in tow. She had to know all those people snapping pictures weren’t working on the Rodriguez family album and certainly not anybody from the Post, which two months ago published a picture of her husband and a woman at a Toronto hotel under a similarly pithy headline: “Stray-Rod.”
Baseball wives aren’t the only ones causing their spouses headaches, of course, though it turns out there’s a tradition that reaches much farther back than Anna Benson. Coincidentally, one of the best wives’ tales ever in sports also involves – who else? – the Yankees.
Pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson and their wives went on a double-date during the 1972 offseason and got along so swimmingly that they joked about swapping spouses. At spring training the following year, they announced they had done just that – trading kids, houses and even the family dogs.
Looking at the distractions he knew were already lurking on the horizon, Yankee general manager Lee MacPhail tried to lighten the mood by remarking, “We may have to call off Family Day.”
Current GM Brian Cashman hasn’t considered that option, though he did speak to Rodriguez and his wife and acknowledged that team policy prohibits profane language on clothing and banners at Yankee Stadium. But as one fan told the Post, “It was noted by police and security. They were aware of it. I guess they didn’t know what to do. I guess you don’t kick A-Rod’s wife out of the game.”
Maybe not, and maybe the fact that it didn’t kick up more of a ruckus is a good thing.
Plenty of athletes’ wives have already demonstrated how dangerous a little attention can be. Anybody remember how Kurt Warner’s wife, Brenda, lobbied endlessly during radio interviews a few years back to get her husband traded from the Rams? Or how Benson, wife of pitcher Kris Benson and a former Penthouse model, famously threatened to sleep with the entire Mets team – plus the manager and batboy – if she caught her husband cheating?
Well, no sooner did the Mets ship Mr. and Mrs. Benson to Baltimore than she complained, “We would never, ever have signed with New York if they had said they were going to trade us.”
Excuse me, Anna.
More likely, the Mets did it to be rid of you.
And right about now, the last thing the Yankees need is a similar distraction. They’re barely within shouting distance of American League East-leading Boston, there aren’t enough happy campers in the clubhouse to sing even one stanza of “Kumbaya,” and her husband wasn’t the most popular guy in there to begin with.
A-Rod, on the other hand, seems unfazed by any of the craziness breaking out all around him. The same afternoon that his wife made the front page, he was named AL player of the month, the second time that’s happened this season.
Who says love ain’t grand?