Alex Rodriguez's Pledge of Allegiance

A-Rod Can Haz Dominican Culture Now?

Jose 7 Comments

Alex Rodriguez's Pledge of Allegiance

Alex Rodriguez

Back in July of 2005, the World Baseball Classic committees were just getting their international rosters, and most people stuck to their countries of origin, as stipulated by the rules. With 16 teams in the competition, many of us baseball fans almost salivated to the chin being able to watch these all-stars playing on the same teams. Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, and Ken Griffey Jr. all on the same squad? Jose Reyes, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols in one line-up?

Whoa.

And Alex Rodriguez, arguably the best all-around player in baseball, has the choice of playing for either of these teams.

And he chose the Dominican Republic. No harm, no foul.

Yet, what ensued afterwards was a backlash of sorts, including meetings I’m sure very few of us were privy to, and he went from being 100% sure he’d play for the Dominican Republic to not playing for any team whatsoever to eventually playing for the US team. It’s bad enough his reputation as an asshole who wants to please everyone just wouldn’t go away. Now, he’s back to dealing with identity politics that are, in many ways, out of his control. As some people may know, both of his parents are Dominican and he has dual citizenship in both Dominican Republic and the United States, where he’s lived most of his life. He went from living in Washington Heights in NYC to Florida, where his only father figures were his baseball coaches growing up, but his mom still instilled in him some cultural pride, though not ostensibly.

Anyone who considers themselves multi-ethnic or has done a little studying on multi-ethnic people understand that, despite our allegiance to our ancestors’ countries, we also contribute to the American culture and when we go back to those countries of origin, we are usually considered Americans. Even with an accent as heavy as Alex’s, he’s probably looked at as American, at least subconsciously. But that’s the struggle for Alex: forces from the people who pay him his hundreds of millions, including sponsors and players’ unions, and others like his family who he seems to treasure and the 20-some-odd years he wasn’t an American icon, but a Dominican playing America’s favorite pastime.

Yet, on Saturday, December 6th, 2008, and at the behest of David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez did what he should have done back in 2005. He signed on to play for the Dominican Republic.

Now, the response is completely different. Many Dominicans are lauding the move, calling it “authentic” and “true to what he really is.” Yet, Americans, who were indifferent back in 2005 when he first made the decision to play for the Dominican Republic, now have a growing resentment about this move, calling him “Benedict A-Rod” among other things. And to all of them, I say …

GET OVER YOURSELVES!!!

I can’t believe the gall of anyone who so much as whispers Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez’ name and can say he’s not Dominican with a straight face. So what if he was born here? Does that completely strip him of any culture that’s instilled in him? Does that make him any less of a man because he is Dominican? Why do people criticize him for making this move? Is it because he was an American-born Dominican rather than a Dominican boy some scout made a lot of lavish promises to and kept in a perpetual farm system? Is it his blond streaks, extra-marital affairs, and rumors with Madonna and maybe some other models here and there? Is it because he’s living the American Dream that so many of you advertise so flauntingly to the rest of the world? Is it because you just need any excuse to berate and denigrate A-Rod, whose name someone shrunk just so they could Americanize it?

And believe me, even as a New York Yankees fan, I get it: he comes off as an arrogant, selfish, rich, undeserving, flip-flopping, callous asshole. I personally don’t see it that way, but I understand where it comes from. But none of this, and I mean NONE of this, gives anyone any right to tell that man whether he gets to be Dominican or celebrate his Dominican culture, and anyone who’s a real fan of the man shouldn’t judge him. Even if you don’t like him as a player, respect his right to his own cultures.

Both of them.

And when he comes to play in the New Yankee Stadium in March of 2009, he’ll be pledging to the American flag right along with everyone else in there.

Jose, who will be waving any one of 2 flags during the WBC, since Haiti doesn’t have a baseball team like that …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 7

  1. The Jaded NYer

    Ugh… he’s playing on the DR team? Booo… I’m the first to admit I cannot STAND this dude based on his arrogance alone. But I also can’t help but take issue with him playing for DR when the rules say you play with your country of origin, and his is the U.S.

    It reminds me of this Olympic swimmer (forget his name) who trained here in the US, using up all the resources, but then swam for Spain (it was a bunch of years ago). And I know others do it… they all bother me. It’s like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul in my humble opinion.

    Me? I shall be rooting for Team Dominican Republic. And yes, I see the irony (and hypocrisy) of that seeing as I was born and raised in Brooklyn. Hush.

  2. Sugarlips

    Jose, nice post. People can be so judgemental sometimes. And sometimes I think it’s just because they “can”. Anyway, I know exactly what you mean – I feel the same things being a 1st generation Croatian-American. I was born here, but parents were born and raised there. Americans think I’m “cool” because I sort-of speak another language and have family in another country, but I’m still “different” (culture scares ppl sometimes, esp. when they’re not expecting it). Croatians in Croatia think I’m to be the Croatian ambassador here in the US and always put Croatia first. Other Croatian-Americans here in the States think I’ve abandoned my culture because I don’t associate with only other Croatians, bar-hop in Astoria, attend the Croatian Church every weekend, and when I do happen to attend some sort of function treat me like an outsider. I might as well be Japanese to them.

    It really is a shame it has to be this way. Why does everyone have to choose? There’s no need for hard and fast lines. We should be able to proudly wave whatever flag we choose to. And wave ‘em all if we damn well feel like it. We’re a product of it all, and should be able to be proud of that.

  3. icy

    Actually the rules say you can play with your country of origin or heritage. The majority of the Italian team in 2006 was made up of American born players of Italian descent. 7 American born players also played on the Dominican and Puerto Rican team in 2006.
    The only thing precident setting about what A-Rod is doing is that A-Rod is doing it.
    The NY press has a rage against this guy. They call him Benedict A-Rod but never mention the fact that he is funding an outpatient childrens clinic and childrens dental clinic at 2 NY hospitals. They call him phony but fail to mention the childrens little league that he funded and spent time with in the Bronx this summer. They show pictures of him at the golf tournament where he announced his decision to play for the DR team but didn’t mention that he donated enough money at the tournament so 80 children in the Dominican Republic could get heart surgery they can’t afford.
    He makes a lot of money playing a childrens game but so do many others who are no where near as generous with it.

  4. The Jaded NYer

    Why is Icy trying to make me like A-Rod?

    Fine, he’s generous with his money. *applause*

    I still think he came to NY to steal Jeter’s job. There. I said it. It gives him such an aura of shadiness; my sixth sense just saw so many red flags when he signed with the yankees…

    But the NY Press… well, there’s nothing you can do about those guys. Once they have it in for you *ahem Barry Bonds* you can forget it.

  5. clyde

    don’t say someone is generous because their heart is in it.
    my mom is the v.p. of a big new york accounting firm and i can tell you
    that many of her wealthy clients write checks and do photo ops
    not because they care but because they want the tax benefits
    that come with donating a % of your money to non-profit organizations.
    i’m not making as much as pro athletes, but i donate roughly 4% of
    my gross income (roughly 20k) to charity.
    so yes others may not donate as much as Madame Rodriguez but do not make it seem
    like what he is doing is rare.

    I dislike the guy not because of his blond streaks
    His aloofness
    His personality
    His wholier than thou demeanor
    or the press coverage
    or his madonna relationship
    or that his wife had a nasty attitude (met her a couple times)
    I actually dislike the dude cuz I honestly believe that
    we… or rather the Yankees organization will never win
    with or because of him.
    He is simply not THE best player.
    Jeter is my favourite Yankee

  6. Post
    Author
    Jose

    Wow, some of you got really heated. Thanks for all the comments:

    I’d like to say, first off, that because A-Rod has dual citizenship, he has every right to play for either country. His dual citizenship means he still has a connection to his ancestors’ homelands, and can serve as an ambassador later on in his life for his country.

    Secondly, despite what people may think about his fortunes, that’s his money, and as much money as he’s made on his own, he’s certainly made a ton of money for any team that he’s been on (probably even moreso), from the Mariners to the Yanks, and that can’t be denied. Despite his shortcomings in the playoffs, we can’t say that they’d be better off without him because that just hasn’t been the case, especially with the lack of pitching and fielding problems the Yanks have had.

    And while Jeter is also my favorite Yankee, also note that without Paul O’Neill, the Yanks have been back to the WS exactly once. Also, without Paul, DJ was quick to throw some of his teammates under the bus the way O’Neill or Bernie wouldn’t have. I love DJ’s heart, but sometimes I wonder if him favoring even Barry Bonds over A-Rod makes me question a lot about what’s really going on behind closed doors.

    Now, as far as his identity’s concerned, people, I hate to say it but I wonder why we don’t have the same conversation about anyone else. Actually, forget it: it really is about A-Rod. :: sigh::

  7. talda

    the main thing that bothers some people [like myself] about alex is that he doesn’t stick to his guns. if he would just sit still for a moment things would be fine. like you’ve said [and i said the same] its his unending search to please and be liked [maybe because his dad left the family when he was young? its possible, but who knows...]. i had no problem with him playing for the dominican team in ’06. more power to him. but it wasn’t until he flipped and said he wasn’t going to play that caught my attention. and then it became laughable when he ended up playing for the us. seriously, someone needs to tell him to just shut up, put your head down and play. can we stitch that to his underwear? in case he forgets.

    i don’t like him, but that’s been well documented since 2000, but i respect his decision to choose a side. as a biracial kid, i understand the outside pull to claim one culture or identity over the other, especially since i look more like one side than the other, but i am what i am and if other people can’t handle that decision, then that’s their problem to figure out, not mine.

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