Alex Rodriguez has an article about coming to play for the Yankees written with Dan LeBatard for ESPN the magazine. It is a far cry from Reggie Jackson’s “I’m the straw that stirs the drink” 1977 article in Sport magazine, but there is something needy about the tone of the piece all the same. Rodriguez come across more like Sally Field, as somebody who desperately wants to be liked. It’s as if Rodriguez is trying to convince us what a good guy he is.
It speaks to Rodriguez’s insecurities that he felt the need to come out with an article like this. But he does make some interesting comments. One particularly struck me:
Fear of failure is what fuels me, keeps me on edge and sharp. I’m not as good when I’m comfortable.
This reminded me of a Lou Piniella quote that I read in Michael Lewis’ fine piece in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine:
HE WILL NEVER BE A TOUGH COMPETITOR. HE DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO BE COMFORTABLE WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE.
I think that is what Rodriguez is talking about. Considering how much failure is inherent in the life of a baseball player, it makes perfect sense. You could say the same applies to being a great comic or rock star too. Once you get too comfortable, you are sunk. After all, Sir Lawrence Olivier threw up before almost every performance he ever gave on the stage. I doubt if Rodriguez gets physically ill before every game, but I’m sure he’s not overly confident on the days he goes 4-4 either.
p.s. The Lewis article is really terrific. It’s long, but a must-read.