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A tale of two thirdbasemen

The boorish behavior of Alex Rodriguez and Scott Boras -- who, during the fourth and clinching game of the World Series, dropped the news of how A-Rod was opting out of his lucrative contract with the Yankees -- has cemented the slugger's toxic reputation.

Even Murray Chass, a longtime Sox-phobe, has this to say:

Whether Alex Rodriguez or his agent, Scott Boras, is calling the shots, they are making a farce of the best player in baseball.

. . . .

If there is a team considering pursuing Rodriguez, it should remember that he has never played in a World Series, and he was a major reason his team didn’t get there the past three seasons.

Selena Roberts had a great column on this, and the contrast offered by Mike Lowell, in Monday's New York Times. Some excerpts:

One All-Star third baseman is thoughtful in two languages. The Red Sox’ Mike Lowell has a hint of salt in his black hair, an earnest voice fit for a jazz D.J. and a few miles on wheels that roll more like the spokes of a stagecoach than the rims of a sports car.

. . . .

What euphoria for Bostonians after a 4-3 victory. What a postseason for Lowell, with a World Series Most Valuable Player award as his own. An hour after the game, hundreds of Red Sox fans remained in the Coors Field stands, chanting “Re-sign Lowell, re-sign Lowell.”

What do Red Sox fans make of the other All-Star third baseman?

Alex Rodriguez, another All-Star third baseman, is slick in two languages. He has a hint of blond frost in his hair, a strategic selection to his words and regular-season statistics suitable for framing in the Louvre.

. . . .

But apparently salary records are more important than history’s snapshots to Alex. Apparently, Alex’s wife put signing for ego dough on his honey-do list.

In essence, Alex has just turned himself into an art purchase by opting out. He will be a player to hang on the walls for a team, to draw gawkers and attract ratings — all part of what Boras likes to call A-Rod’s iconic worth.

Who buys this fuzzy math? Maybe the Angels or the Dodgers in their turf battles for Los Angeles.

But A-Rod has no value to Boston. The Red Sox don’t require A-Rod to complete them because World Series rings have a way of putting closure on fulfillment.

. . . . 

Why ruin good karma by hiring A-Rod? He was once privately nicknamed the “cooler” by his teammates in Texas for his habit of turning a hot team tepid. He is known for dividing the Yankees’ locker in 2006 with his stats-first attitude. He crossed a line on the Yankees’ patience by fleeing for free agency.

He isn’t worth the angst. A-Rod is almost a winning addition to any team like a three-leaf clover is almost lucky.

Lowell, however, is the Pied Piper of championships. He won a title in Florida as a Marlin. And last night, he buffed another ring with the bling of these postseason stats: He hit .333 in the division series, .333 in the American League Championship Series and .400 in the World Series, with a combined 15 runs batted in.

. . . .

Lowell should be the Red Sox’ priority. Not A-Rod. John Henry, the principal owner of the Red Sox, will have to resist his A-Rod obsession — perhaps there’s medication for that — with Rodriguez revving up for a shot at a $300 million deal.

The opt-out alone says something about A-Rod’s motives. There is nothing suspect about Lowell. He is quietly multitalented, able to speak fluently as a leader in a multicultural clubhouse, which would make him a nice find for the Mets if a position change could be brokered. So Lowell will have suitors unless the Red Sox wisely use their exclusive negotiating window with Lowell to end the chase with a four-year deal.

As Epstein said in one corner of the clubhouse, “Hopefully it will work out.”

As Lowell said in another corner of the clubhouse, “Hopefully it will work out.”

The Red Sox and Lowell are as one. They even sound alike. They are made for each other.

“On and off the field,” Epstein said, “he is the epitome of class.”

The Red Sox are not sentimental spenders. But this would be a smart financial call. Yes, Lowell would be in his late 30s at the contract’s end. And, true, the Red Sox like to think of themselves as clairvoyants, able to search their sabermetric hearts to accurately predict the sunsets of former Boston idols like Johnny Damon and Pedro Martínez.

But those 2004 Red Sox needed a face-lift, a little nip and tuck here and there. These ’07 Red Sox already have what’s new with a roster resembling Hannah Montana’s fan demographic. There’s Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury along with a dozen other Red Sox on their first razors.

Someone has to head the Red Sox’ mentoring program. Would Epstein really trust Manny Ramírez to offer “Manny being Manny” tips on how to turn 390-foot drives into singles? Would they ever want A-Rod to teach a youngster the art of the deal?

The Red Sox don’t need A-Rod. They need Lowell. They don’t need an unnecessary luxury item to flaunt. They already possess World Series rings.

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