After a shaky 2006, at least by his lofty standards, A-Rod has emerged once again as not only the best player in town, but probably in the sport and maybe of all time. And all it took was for him to finally be himself. In other words, an asshole. First he confessed that, alas, it’s true, he and Yankee heartthrob Derek Jeter aren’t really that chummy since he “dissed” his former “blood brother” in a 2001 magazine interview, saying Jeter wasn’t the best hitter on the Yankees. Oh, snap! “Let’s make a contract,” Rodriguez told a gaggle of reporters last February. “You don’t ask me about Derek anymore, and I promise I’ll stop lying to all you guys.” He followed up the admission that he’d been lying about his relationship with Jeets for six years (how that even got to be a topic of obsession for that long is another, weirder issue) by getting caught cheating on his wife with a big-boobed, blond stripper in Toronto, thus earning him the memorable tabloid nickname “Stray-Rod.” But instead of trying to keep up his robotic “Mr. Perfect” routine with denials or running to his effin’ therapist, A-Rod basically said Mind your fuckin’ business and continued to put up some of the greatest non-juiced numbers in the history of the game. In doing so, he finally earned some respect from a Yankees fandom who had collectively deemed him mentally fragile and clamored for him to be run out of town on a rail just a year earlier. Of course, he could have put up those huge numbers because the pressure was off: Maybe he decided before the season started that he was going to exercise a contract clause allowing him to opt out of New York next year. Remember how tolerable a terrible job suddenly gets when you know you’re quitting? But A-Rod has insisted over and over that that’s not the case—he loves New York and is a loyal Yankee. You’d have to be a real asshole to say that and not mean it.