NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez watched LeBron James celebrate his first NBA championship on Thursday evening, hoisting the trophy for his victorious Miami Heat, and couldn't help but think of his own date with success.
That would have been the evening of Nov. 4, 2009, when A-Rod clustered with his teammates at the center of Yankee Stadium and joyously partied the night away after scoring the World Series ring he'd waited so long for.
"I know exactly how he felt, and I was very happy for him," Rodriguez said. "I know he's going to take a deep breath now and really enjoy the rest of his career. We probably haven't seen the best of him, and I think we will now."
Rodriguez has followed the Heat closely and tries to make it to a few games during the baseball offseason, but he especially sees parallels between himself and James, who has been a popular target after leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for a huge contract in Miami.
"Playing the villain is never fun, and it's tiring," Rodriguez said. "It's definitely not exciting. It's not all it's built up to be. I think for me, everything changed in '09 and I really had a chance to just enjoy the game again; more so now than ever."
Rodriguez added that even when he struggles, he has found a way to enjoy the game, and he hopes that has impacted his public perception since '09.
"By any means that doesn't mean I'm going to be casting the lead roles in every Tom Hanks movie," Rodriguez said, "but I think I've graduated from being the monster in every film."
Yanks confused, amused by 'chickens' comment
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter had a copy of the New York Post and a perplexed look on his face as he arrived Friday at Citi Field, expecting to play a Subway Series game and instead stepping into a minor controversy.
The Post cover pasted Jeter's head on a chicken's body, a creative take on Mets closer Frank Francisco's assertion that the Yankees are a bunch of "chickens" who "complain too much."
"I've seen myself worse in the paper," Jeter said, "I'm pretty sure. I don't know. I don't understand. ... Why am I on it?"
That was a fair question. Francisco boasted that he had struck out the side against the Yankees in 2004, when he whiffed Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi, and that he would relish the opportunity to do it again this weekend.
"I don't know how I got dragged into this," Jeter said. "I don't understand what [chicken] means. I can't be insulted by something I don't understand."
Some of Jeter's teammates seemed amused. Rafael Soriano charged through the clubhouse on Friday, asking bystanders, "What's up, chickens?"
Russell Martin accepted a reporter's cell phone to glance at the Post cover and laughed. Ivan Nova flipped through the paper at his locker and stashed it for later, saying he wanted to read it more closely. Nick Swisher said he wasn't amused by the print copy, but Rodriguez clearly got a kick out of the fowl references.
"What was it? What kind of chickens?" Rodriguez said. "Like organic chickens? Rotisserie chickens? I like chickens. I like mine grilled, tasty. Chickens can be good."
And Francisco's comments might have unwittingly helped line the Yankees' pockets; Yankees manager Joe Girardi was told by media relations director Jason Zillo that the team has suddenly been fielding calls from chicken companies.
"Jason informed me we had three chicken companies call us today calling to be sponsors of the Subway Series, so it might work out well for both teams," Girardi said.
Joba not injured in minor traffic accident
NEW YORK -- Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain was involved in a minor traffic accident on Thursday in Tampa, Fla., but he was not injured.
Newsday first reported that Chamberlain's vehicle was struck from behind as he was traveling to the Yankees' Minor League complex to work out. Chamberlain is in Tampa as he recovers from Tommy John surgery and a right ankle injury.
Chamberlain is expected to throw live batting practice on Monday, the first time he will do so after he suffered an open dislocation of his right ankle in a trampoline accident in late March. Chamberlain has said that he expects to pitch at the Major League level this season, a goal the Yankees have not discouraged him from.
The Yankees entered play on Friday having won seven straight road games, marking their longest road winning streak since June 24-July 9, 2009 (eight games).
Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes and Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson each allowed four homers in Wednesday's 10-5 Yankees loss at Yankee Stadium. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marked the first time in Yankees history that two pitchers surrendered four homers in the same game.
On this date in 1938, boxers Joe Louis and Max Schmeling conducted a rematch of their 1936 bout at Yankee Stadium. Louis knocked out Germany's Schmeling in 124 seconds to retain the heavyweight title.