I recently returned from a week in the Bahamas. On a layover in Fort Lauderdale, I had the opportunity of perusing the airport newsstand. After I had finished carefully combing through the celebrity gossip rags and home decor mags in the “Women’s Interest” section, I turned my attention to the “Men’s Interest” section. (“Men’s Interest,” you see, is where they put all the sports magazines. As if men wouldn’t be interested in Angelina Jolie’s baby bump or six ways to clear clutter! Pshaw!)

Anywho, this is what I saw before me:

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, locked in a vicious coverboy smackdown! Refereed by Adriana Lima and her stern palm fronds of discipline!

No, but that's the sound your mother made last night.On Men’s Health, Jeter, arms confidently folded, grins slyly at the camera. “Derek Jeter: How to rule in the clutch!” the magazine enthuses, as if Derek Jeter did not spend last October grounding into double plays. But no matter—Derek looks relaxed, assured, and like he gets an awful lot of sugar from an awful lot of females. The design of the shoot portrays Jeter as a man’s man, an approachable-but-cool Everyman that the reader could swap stories with over drinks. Plus, Men’s Health is sort of like FHM’s slightly older brother; still a scallywag at heart, he’s traded beer for whiskey and pizza for steak. It’s a good fit for the image Jeter wants to project. Well played.

Turd FergusonOn Men’s Vogue, by contrast, A-Rod squints nearsightedly into the lens, his lips in their trademark sullen pout. An aura of defensive self-consciousness pervades his hand-on-hip stance. Whereas Jeter seems to have won the respect and approval of the Men’s Health editors, Rodriguez seems to have angered the good people at Men’s Vogue, who taunt him with a “Clutch Time” slug over the headline. Here, there is no talk of “ruling” in the clutch. Here, there is only a loaded question: “Can Baseball’s Biggest Bet Redeem Himself—and the Game?” That is a tall order, especially for one who has a reputation of crumbling under pressure—as Men’s Vogue no doubt knows. As for A-Rod’s choice of magazine, the only glossy gayer than Men’s Vogue is The Advocate. Thus, it must come as no surprise to Alex or his handlers that A-Rod, having agreed to do the cover, appears in a pose, outfit, and lighting designed to call attention to his nether-goods. (Note how the eye immediately leaps to the bright white of his trousers, while the black shirt and socks recede into the background; note also how the aforementioned nether-goods are located almost exactly in the middle of the magazine cover. The unsuspecting reader is lured into checking out A-Rod’s package against his will!) One wonders why Rodriguez even agreed to do the shoot. But as usual with A-Rod, the more he struggles against his appearance-obsessed poseur image, the more it ensnares him.

However, despite this, the real winner of this magazine smackdown is not Derek Jeter. No, gentle readers. The real winner is Josh Beckett:

Aside from the slight irony of Beckett appearing next to a “RIP YOUR ABS” screamer, this cover shot is the clear winner. While Beckett’s facial hair looks as ridiculous as ever, and the artistic director seems to have oiled him up within an inch of his life, he gets some extra points for that Texas-sized Red Sox belt buckle and those well-displayed forearms. The lighting, angle, and pose cast Josh Beckett as a sort of super-hero. Plus, it’s worth noting that neither Men’s Vogue nor Men’s Health are quite as badass as Men’s Fitness (“Train to fight the MMA Way” versus “10 Ways to Look Great!” and “Lean and Mean: the New Slim Suits”). But the saving grace of Beckett’s cover is that despite wearing stonewashed jeans, a massive gold chain, and the aforementioned UFH, and despite looking like self-tanner exploded all over his entire body, and despite ending up so airbrushed that he looks a little bit like BeckettT1000 (sent back in time to destroy opposing hitters!), Josh Beckett seems here like he really doesn’t give rat’s derrière what you think of him. And though, of the three, he’s the one with the biggest claim to glory in the clutch (a 6-0 record with a 1.73 ERA in the postseason), Men’s Fitness doesn’t even approach such philosophical notions. Instead?

Suck it, Trebek!

Ladies and gentlemen, the winnah and still champeen.

15 Responses to “A-Rod vs. Jeter: Coverboy smackdown”

  1. “I Throw the Damn Thing as Hard as I Can”

    Well, now, that’s just good ol’ Texas logic.

  2. This contest was rigged from the start. Sarah = East German judge.

    Josh Beckett wins? Let’s take a second look.

    Beckett is on the cover of Men’s Fitness. Meanwhile, in the real world, HE’S ON THE DL! Why? Because his back hurts. Why does his back hurt? Probably from carrying around that beer gut he developed over the offseason.

    Also, that shirt/chain combo is horrible. If you’ve got a beer gut, you can’t wear spandex. Period. Look how hard Becks is trying to suck in his gut — and it’s just not enough!

    Beckett’s cover shot says, “we airbrushed and tanned him and we still couldn’t hide the fact that he’s fat and has TERRIBLE taste is fashion.”

    Contrast that to A-Rod’s cover. Beckett and Jeter get cut off at the waist. Not A-Rod. We get all of him. And he’s all-natural, regardless of what Mr. Jose Canseco might say. I mean, look at this cover! Natural light. Natural quadriceps. Natural biceps. You want to see some balls that aren’t shrunken by steroids? We’ve got ’em right here. You can’t miss ’em!

    I say A-Rod wins, in a landslide.

  3. Sarah Green says:

    Coley, even if you actually like the prominent display of A-Rod’s junk, as you seem to be intimating you do, there’s still his sourpuss little face! Not to mention the indisputable fact that he is on Men’s Vogue, a publication that should never have been invented.

    If I were handing out grades, I’d say Beckett gets an A for his lettin’ it all hang out cover. He doesn’t look good, but he also doesn’t give a sh*t. Plus, he throws the damn thing as hard as he can! Jeter gets an A-, largely because of the Men’s Health editors and their stupid “clutch” headline. But A-Rod gets a D. He couldn’t look like more of a tool if he tried, and the Men’s Vogue editors are only partly to blame.

    And if I’m an East German judge where the Sox are concerned, you are a French figure skating judge when it comes to the Yanks.

  4. Coley Ward says:

    I actually like the A-Rod cover — junk and all. I like that they shot it outside. Positioning him next to the water, in navy and white…it’s like he’s in the Navy. It’s like the mag is saying, “We know who the REAL captain of the ship is.” Though, you’re right, it wouldn’t kill him to smile.

  5. Sarah Green says:

    I didn’t think of the Navy reference, but you’re right, Coley. Unfortunately, this only makes the entire proceedings seem even more ambiguously gay.

  6. Brian Sadecki says:

    Is Beckett wearing that new underarmor girdle I’ve been hearing about?

    And I thought making a sourpuss made you intimidating in the ninth inning.

  7. Sarah Green says:

    They clearly should have put Beckett in a shirt just a little more cowboy and nixed the jewelry. But as for the face, don’t confuse a dominating pitcher’s stare with a bitchy little pout. There’s definitely a difference, as Mr. Jay Manuel could no doubt elucidate better than I.

    A-Rod should have gone with Blue Steel.

  8. Brian Sadecki says:

    If Dennis Miller and Diablo Cody had a baby and then dropped it in a vat of references, Sarah Green would emerge spouting Urkle quotes.

    Oh god, Jack Cust just hit a homerun. He’s handsome.

  9. Why does A-Rod go to the beach in his uni? And what does he do with his bat when he gets there? This guy needs to hire a new image consultant because he is just weird. I’ve never seen such a good looking guy look so awkward so often. I’m starting to think he may be an android.

  10. Um… all I saw was Josh Beckett and the no doubt true statement “The Best Sex You’ll Ever Have”.. pshaw, indeed!

  11. Giambi's Thyroid says:

    Where is the cover shot of Beckett from Boston Drunken Douchebag Weekly?

  12. jetersbabii says:

    Jeter’s looks are declining and he looks like a bad version of a gay guy. Jeter is just plain butt ugly and his hairline is ridiculous. The herpes has gotten to old Jeter. Arod looks nice with a nice body and Becket looks okay too.

  13. Javier Mendez says:

    I like looking at A-Rod’s crotch, as do a lot of people. The dude is still hot as hell, so why not have him flaunt his sex appeal?

  14. Giambi\’s Thyroid: haven\’t seen “Slick” on the cover of anything for quite a while. Although I’m sure he’s probably in some local Vegas hometown publications over the off season, no doubt, ie: Community Service Award, donating to local strippers and their families.. etc.

  15. I am jealous of both of them, I think this “vs.” stuff is just for MORE buzz to get them both in the news. Hey whatever works for your pr I suppose.

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