A-Rod Can Haz Dominican Culture Now?

Jose VilsonJose, Race

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 …