‘Success’ of Rose, Rodriguez on Fox prove 'the darkside’ sells

It’s so funny it should be illegal.

Call this an appropriate way of hyping the comedy stylings of Alex Rodriguez and Pete Rose, the two most mentioned, and we dare say beloved, members of Fox Sports’ October baseball pre and postgame team.

This is the second year Rodriguez, who cheated the game, lied about his use of performance enhancing drugs and was eventually kicked out for a season, AND Rose, who was busted and exiled for gambling on baseball and also did five months in jail for cheating on his income taxes, have been afforded such a prestigious platform by Major League Baseball’s biggest national TV partner.

What’s next? Fox assigning Rose to make the presentation of the World Series trophy to the winning owner?

If the brainiacs running Fox Sports actually had a real sense of humor they would musically introduce their marquee mouths, who are also joined by Kevin Burkhardt, Tom Verducci and Frank Thomas, with Leiber and Stoller’s “Jailhouse Rock.”

Funny, right?

See, Rose and Rodriguez were not just hired for their baseball IQ’s, which on both accounts are extremely high. They were brought before the cameras more for their “unique” personalities, which are to a large extent nefarious. The Foxies have stricken each man’s sleazy history from their Candy Land TV resumes. Yet many watching have not forgotten. And that’s not a bad thing.

Some are probably appalled. Does anyone want their kids seeing two dirtbags being glorified on TV? Yet now, more than ever, the darkside sells. The pasts of both A-Rod and Rose are so shadowy they inspire the curious. Suspicious minds, not necessarily hardcore baseball fans, are tuning in if only to find out what makes two guys who cheated a game they claim to love, tick.

How do Rodriguez and Rose actually explain and analyze crucial World Series games? It’s a fascinating concept, two guys who killed their own credibility years ago now offering analysis to the unwashed masses. The concept has apparently led to a rise in Fox’s pre and postgame show ratings. For Fox suits, that’s what matters.

Judging by the public reaction, there is some surprise over the consistently high-quality performances produced by Rose and Rodriguez over their two seasons at Fox, especially the current postseason where the crew has been compared favorably to TNT’s NBA studio show, which some TV savants call the best in the business.

There should be no surprise. Rodriguez and Rose have both lied on the biggest of stages. A-Rod should have won an Emmy for his performance in a 2007 interview with Katie Couric on 60 minutes. When you can lie to the world, and convince yourself you are selling the lie, it’s easy to get in front of a camera and start talking baseball.

Rose is a natural. He is more entertaining than A-Rod, combining quick points and zingers. Rodriguez works off notes directly in front of him. This too, is an extension of his personae. Throughout his career, the baseball media applauded his preparation.

Now the same angle is being pushed about his TV preparation. “Oh, look how hard A-Rod works.” That’s all well and good, but all that “preparation” has sometimes led to Rodriguez coming off wooden and scripted. In year two, A-Rod has cut down on the stilted approach.

On occasion, he has actually been funny.

Like during the NLCS when the cast did a predictions segment titled “Don’t bet on it.” When A-Rod’s turn came, he said: “Pete, I love you, don’t bet on anything.” Okay, so for A-Rod, it was funny.

Rose doesn’t even have to open his mouth to be funny. He’s a human sight gag, a bow-tie-wearing Weeble, mixing analysis with insults. When the very original topic of “who has the edge, Jake Arrieta or Trevor Bauer,” was presented Wednesday night, Rose got chippy, saying: “Because neither one of these guys (Thomas, A-Rod) know anything about pitching I’m going to ask Tom (Verducci)….”

While the rest of the cast is totally overshadowed by Rose and Rodriguez, they are not exactly cannon fodder. Burkhardt is an accomplished host, Verducci is a thinking man’s analyst who is not fully appreciated by a dope like me, and the former slugger Thomas, an early advocate for drug testing in baseball, is the most likable guy on the panel.

And they don’t carry any checkered baggage to the party.

Only Rose and Rodriguez arrive toting twisted history, a past that even the fantasy of television won’t ever let them escape.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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