ANAHEIM, Calif. -- What's the big deal with this Alex Rodriguez-Dallas Braden dustup?
Why, I thought A-Rod was quite restrained while crossing the mound and stepping on the pitching rubber while returning to first base on Thursday.
It's not as if he planted the Yankees' flag atop the mound or anything.
Seriously, after talking with several baseball people about the incident Friday, here's the big deal: Common sense and respect for an opponent should preclude someone from using the mound as a shortcut. Pure and simple.
Nobody I spoke with Friday brushed it off as A-Rod being wronged. His closest defender, of course, was Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who called the whole thing "boys being boys."
To review: With one out in the sixth inning, Rodriguez went from first to third on what turned out to be a foul fly ball. Instead of retracing his steps back to first, he cut across the mound.
"Everybody has a point of view," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Friday night's series opener here against the Angels. "That's the beauty of our country. That's the beauty of the human mind.
"I don't think Alex was doing anything malicious."
Braden started the controversy when he hollered at Rodriguez on the field during the game, but really ignited it afterward.
"He should probably take a note from his captain [Derek Jeter] over there and realize you don't cross the pitcher's mound in between an inning or during the game," Braden told reporters. "I was just dumbfounded that he would let that slip his mind, being someone of such status."
Said Girardi on Friday: "As far as what Dallas said, I'm concerned with how my player reacts. I'm not concerned with other players."
I talked to several people in the game about the incident on Friday, none of whom were eager to step into the latest A-Rod controversy. The consensus: Rodriguez should have avoided the mound. Or, failing that, he should have simply cut across the very back part of the dirt, or the very front part.
Just as the plate is the hitter's piece of real estate, one player told me, the mound is the pitcher's.
"I wouldn't like a pitcher running through the batter's box and messing up my dirt if he was coming back from behind the plate," the player said.
The only person I spoke with who was prepared to defend A-Rod first wanted to know where Braden was at the moment. If Braden was not on the mound, the person said, then it is no big deal. But if Braden was standing on the rubber or in the vicinity of it at the time, then it's confrontation time.
Answer to that last question: Braden was returning to the mound himself, and was a step or two onto the third-base side of the mound when A-Rod jogged directly in front of him, easily brushing within a couple of steps of him.
You can see the video for yourself here.
My take: It's not as if A-Rod committed a felony. But it's another in his long list of stupid and uncecessary moments.