Doesn't something akin to a big league mute button exist somewhere? If not, perhaps one can be marketed before another player stubs his tongue and adds to the cacophony of 2013? If one can be manufactured, kindly allow me to be the first to press it, though I suspect a lengthy line quickly would form behind me.
In the case of Rodriguez, once a Hall of Fame lock, his career has been silent since early October. Can't his narcissistic thumbs follow suit? After all, this is the guy who thought that acknowledging the great Willie Mays was unnecessary last season when he passed the game's greatest living player in RBIs. Then A-Rod played the part of a Sphinx.
Now, it's "Blah, blah, blah. I'm ready to play and no one has announced it."
His physical maladies and need for rehabilitation are genuine. No one's questioning that aspect of A-Rod's Yankees tenure. But after cashing all those checks with all those zeros, you'd think a guy would be slick enough to lay low and give the public no more fuel for the pending Bronx cheers that his if-and-when return is bound to prompt.
Just take a cue from Steve Carlton, George Hendrick, Albert Belle, John Denny, the Mets of Spring Training 1992 (Remember "Meet the Mutes"?), and, on occasion, Thurman Munson and Manny Ramirez. Hush. Until A-Rod has done something positive, he ought not add to the pile at his feet that is not so positive. Shuush. Try driving in a run or making a play at third base before subjecting the world to more of what runs through your mind and comes out unfiltered and a tad unfathomable.
* * * *
Stewart's case is different. He took to tweeting ill-advisedly while responding to inquiries from followers who wondered when he might return from the Minor Leagues. His reply -- "probably never" -- was followed with comments suggesting that Cubs manager Dale Sveum didn't like him.
Just a guess here, but what Sveum might not have liked was the .168 batting average Stewart had produced at Triple-A Iowa. That would fuel an "absolutely never" and a "stay where you are" if I were the Cubs general manager, too.
When a batter is living on the interstate, and in Triple-A, no less, it's advisable to say little or speak only when asked to. Don't make waves that call attention to the one-sixty-something next to your name on the scoreboard.
With narcissism on the table, I'm reminded of the self-absorbed Deion Sanders, who hit his first big league home run with the Yankees in Milwaukee on June 4, 1989. He and teammates Jesse Barfield and Mel Hall had been given manicures by Rickey Henderson before the game -- don't ask why -- and all four had hit home runs in the Yankees' 12-9 victory.
Henderson, Barfield and Hall had fun with the manicure angle. "We nailed 'em," Barfield suggested. But Sanders, batting a robust .154 before his home run swing, declined to discuss it with me. "I did my group [interview]," he said. "No time for you."
I employed the two words that Yankees announcer Michael Kay, still a beat reporter at the time, would come to use often: "See ya." Different meaning.
* * * *
Carlton, Hendrick and some of the others in the Kappa Delta Shut Up had the right idea. Carlton never was rude; he just didn't speak with reporters, not even last August after he was the catcher when Tim McCarver threw out the first pitch at a Cardinals game in Philly. He just excused himself. Fine. And sometimes, he'll get downright chatty at the party the night before the Hall of Fame inductions.
If you bumped into Hendrick on an elevator or in a coffee shop, he was polite and conversational. He just didn't want to be quoted. People in my business understand that and are accommodating.
Sanders should have tried that, so too A-Rod and Stewart.
* * * *
There's one good thing about tweeting and communicating directly with the public: Tweeters can't accuse reporters of making up quotes, taking comments out of context or just misusing words. In so many instances, players didn't realize how their words would look in print. And now they probably don't recognize the effect of the words they thumb for public distribution.
Words to wise: Be careful and/or be quiet. Or, as it said on a bumper sticker that whizzed by the other day, "Silence is golden, duct tape is silver."