only a few guys get to be The Man.
Joe DiMaggio was The Man. Frank Gifford was The Man. Joe Namath
was The Man.
The Man has to be a) cooler than a Freon plant, b) living in
Manhattan, c) the best at what he does and d) so handsome that
entire secretarial pools fall off their chairs when he's still
three blocks away.
In 2004 Alex Rodriguez is The Man.
The New York Yankees third baseman is the leading All-Star Game
vote-getter at his position for the seventh straight year, is one
of PEOPLE's 50 Most Beautiful for the third time and knocks down
a creamy $22 million this year. That makes him a hero, a
heartthrob and Howard Hughes. That makes him The Man.
So when his people called a few weeks ago and said meet him at
one o'clock at his midtown apartment, I figured, Cool! He doesn't
even start partying until 1 a.m.!
"Actually--1 p.m.," his manager, Steve Fortunato, said.
O.K., so we get an early start on the suavefest. I couldn't wait
to see his crib. I'm thinking mirrored ceilings, press a button
and a bar pops out, sable toilet seats. Wrong, Robin Leach. It
was lots of highbrow art, priceless china and photos of his
stepbrother, Air Force Lieut. Col. Victor Rodriguez Jr., a
munitions squadron commander. Big whoop. Where were the revolving
beds? The tubs shaped like martini glasses? The home-wrecking
"Ready to go the ballpark?" A-Rod said.
"Limo, am I right?" I asked. "Or maybe your Lamborghini Diablo?
Classic Gull-Wing perhaps?"
"Actually, just a Tahoe," A-Rod said.
Driving through the streets of New York City, I asked him which
club we were going to after the game--Bungalow 8 or Crowbar? Does
he do Cristal by the magnum? Maybe NOBU would hold a table for
us, and we'd get the fugu?
"Actually, after a day game, I just like to come back to the
apartment and watch the replay," A-Rod said.
"Replay? Of the game?" I asked, crushed.
"Twice," grumbled Gui Soccaras, Rodriguez's friend since they
were seven, growing up in Miami. "We sit there and watch the game
he just played--twice. And 10 other games [on satellite] besides.
The guy is sick."
"O.K.," I said, "but after that we'll tear it up, right?"
"Well, after a night game, I do stay up until about three,"
Rodriguez said. "And what's cool about New York is you can still
get great food then. So I just order in."
Starting at third base--Mr. Buzzkill.
"O.K., but what does the richest and coolest guy in baseball do
in the city when he just wants to go off?" I asked. "You know,
just get crazy?"
"Honestly?" A-Rod said. "What I love to do is go to the
Metropolitan Museum and see the Impressionists. I could do that
The Man sounds like The Mom.
"That's how he is," said Derek Jeter, the Yankees shortstop and
late-night club-hopper. "The man needs serious help."
Some people just don't get their roles. A-Rod refuses to show up
in Star Magazine with some blonde wearing too much lipstick and
not enough dress. He stays happily married, almost two years now.
He does hit the bars for an hour after every game, but they're
the bars with weights on the ends of them.
Fortunato left a message on his cell: "Call me. It's important."
When Rodriguez called back, Fortunato told him about a quick TV
spot that would pay half-a-million bucks. And A-Rod said, "Steve,
I thought you said it was important."
"Hey, I just like to work on my game," Rodriguez said.
Your game? Hello? You were American League MVP last year! You've
already got 383 career home runs, and you're not even 'roided up.
There are two Gold Gloves on the wall over there! Work on your
game? How many times can you comb Fabio's hair?
"This is how he's always been," griped Soccaras. "He is baseball
24 hours a day. When we were kids, he'd make me meet him at the
park at 5:30 in the morning. I'd be half asleep, and he'd be
like, 'O.K., drills!' We'd get to school all sweaty and stinky.
You go through a lot of friends that way."
"But what do you do when you just want to splurge?" I asked
Rodriguez. "You know? Buy something the rest of us can see only
in the Robb Report? Maybe a cigarette boat, charter a 737 to Rio,
light Cohibas with hundred-dollar bills?"
A-Rod's eyes light up.
"Well, what I'd really like to do is set up a foundation to
promote education and...."
Somewhere, Namath weeps.
"O.K., O.K. One last try," I said. "What about the off-season in
Miami? South Beach? Rage at Liquid? Maybe go all Scarface?
"Actually, what I try to do is go to the Miami Boys and Girls
Club and take 200 ground balls every day. See, that's where I
On second thought, maybe Mike Piazza is The Man.
If you have a comment for Rick Reilly, send it to
COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER
"What I love to do," A-Rod said, "is go to the Metropolitan
Museum and see the Impressionists. I could do that for hours."