"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

On Down the Line

Kobe Bryant spoke with Alex Rodriguez the other day. According to Ramona Shelburne at ESPN:

“I just say to him, ‘You’re Alex Rodriguez. You’re A-Rod. You’re one of the best to ever do it,’” Bryant said. “I think sometimes he kind of forgets that and wants to try to do the right thing all the time. Which is the right team attitude to have. But other times you really have to put your head down and say, ‘Hell with it’ and just do your thing.

“Hopefully the next game they’ll kind of give him a chance, maybe put him back at third and let him respond to the pressure, which I think he’ll do.”

Although both are among the best to ever play their respective sports, Bryant and Rodriguez would seem to be very dissimilar.

“We’re different,” Bryant said. “But you’re talking about, ‘He’s one of the best to ever play.’ I think really the difference is, sometimes he forgets he’s the best….Where, I don’t.”

And here’s Doug Glanville in an insightful piece, also at ESPN:

In spring training of 2003, Alex’s locker was next to mine. We talked every day and I appreciated that he took the time to do that. I saw a super hard-working, talented player at that time. He was in the cage hitting curveballs, and he was one of the best shortstops to go with his amazing offensive capability. I also saw someone who tried hard to fit somewhere, to fit in, which for most mega-stars is unusual. They usually expect everyone to bend around them. He sought the statesman status of a Cal Ripken Jr. He worked to command an aura of baseball to emulate the most respected in the game but, probably frustratingly, he mostly found people unmoved.

It was hard to imagine someone so good being so worried at the same time, but I came to understand that he was a star with the same insecurities of a player fighting for that 25th roster spot. Knowing that in the end we were all renting time in the game, taking out a lease from the great history and future of the game.

Just as success leads to more success, lack of confidence in your performance breeds more lack of confidence, and if you do not find a way to turn it around quickly and regain the decision-maker’s faith in you, you could find yourself in a new role permanently. Or on a new team.

Keep in mind Alex Rodriguez is learning these lessons at the tail end of his career, in front of the world. Lessons that were usually reserved for the typical player, who would have long since learned them along the way. So many players break in this way, starting out as the pinch hitter, the emergency outfielder. Then without the coverage of a long-term deal, your struggles are rewarded with learning all the non-starting ways to be a team player — the fourth outfielder, the double-switch guy, the utility infielder — and without the contract coverage or the cheapness of being a young player, there is less incentive for a team to let you work out your kinks.

[Photograph by Hengki Koentjoro]

16 comments

1 boston yank   ~  Oct 17, 2012 9:03 am

Reason for optimism - imagine if our pitching can come back and be close to this good next year. Swap Nova for Pineda, and hope you can bring Kuroda back, and that's the makings of a very fine rotation. Bullpen was solid all year, and hopefully you get Mo back at 80%. The bats can't stay this bad through all of next season.

2 Chris   ~  Oct 17, 2012 9:36 am

Time to trade him somewhere where he never has to worry about hitting in the postseason again.

3 Greg G   ~  Oct 17, 2012 9:54 am

ARod is not at fault in all of this. The Yanks brass are at fault. They gave him this over-sized contract, and now they have to live with the results.

He was injured down the stretch this year and never got back in the groove, and perhaps Girardi should have moved him lower in the batting order until he proved that he was back.

The Yanks aren't living up to their potential and this all or nothing offense was a season-long problem that most pundits rightly predicted would bite them in the ass in the postseason.

ARod is always the one with the biggest target on his back, and he is the one who signed that contract, so he knew what was coming.

Despite all the money, who wants to come to work and be booed? Pick up the paper and have everyone talking about how you are washed-up. To be ridiculed as the face of failure.

ARod has always had a huge ego, and it is likely some overcompensation and insecurity, but I am not his shrink. But imagine what life must be like when you go from being the star to being the garbage?

I really enjoyed Glanville's story and he is right, Alex has to face these skills diminishing on the largest stage. I am not a fan of ARod, but it doesn't mean that I can't empathize.

4 RagingTartabull   ~  Oct 17, 2012 11:08 am

I'm just not ready for Winter. Just give me a game to look forward to tomorrow, that's all I'm asking for at this point.

5 OldYanksFan   ~  Oct 17, 2012 11:09 am

I see no reason why ARod can't be an .800 OPS guy and average fielder for another 2 years. There are a number of players who played until 40, and were still very good, if not elite.

ARod is in great shape and still works hard.
I believe his hand is not 100% 'rehabbed', and his timing is still off from missing 6 years.

He won't be what he was, which would be nuts to except from someone his age.
But I see no reason why he still can't be good.

I think he mentally has to come to grips with his current skill level and make the mental adjustment.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 17, 2012 11:27 am

4) Here, here!

7 Chris   ~  Oct 17, 2012 11:27 am

If you wanted to have your best shot at winning four in a row with this roster, this is exactly the rotation you would use. That's as optimistic as I can be.

I agree ARod can still be reasonably productive. And that's a separate issue from the terrible financial decision -- that even the dullest among us could see at the time -- the Yankees made on him.

I still think the best way forward for the Yankees is to trade ARod (eating the appropriate $$), move Jeter to third, and let Nix and/or Nunez play short. I say that mostly because I just don't think the guy's ever gonna really hit in the postseason and that makes you a bad fit for the Yankees plain and simple.

8 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 17, 2012 1:25 pm

7)ARod carried the team in the 2009 Division and Championship Series. But maybe you mean he's not going to hit in the postseason again?
I don't like thinking or talking about him anymore. He's an exhausting topic. But I will say this: The Yankees would probably have to eat at least half of his guaranteed money to deal him away this winter - and I'm starting to think it would be best for everybody involved if they did. A month ago I wouldn't have considered the idea. Now there's far too much drama surrounding the guy regardless of who's to blame for it. I don't see how Alex, the team, and the fans can endure 5 more years of this.

9 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 17, 2012 1:44 pm

5) yes, it's reasonable to believe that he can still be productive, but the scrutiny and criticism will never let up. It will only get worse as the seasons roll on.

10 Chris   ~  Oct 17, 2012 2:06 pm

[8] Exactly

11 Chris   ~  Oct 17, 2012 2:07 pm

Plus you possibly extend Jeter's career.

12 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 17, 2012 2:33 pm

11) That is if he can recover. Mo and Jeter coming off major surgery next year is...Gulp.

13 RagingTartabull   ~  Oct 17, 2012 2:38 pm

Only one thing can save us now, you guys

http://jetersfordchallenge.com/

14 Chris   ~  Oct 17, 2012 3:13 pm

[13] Nice. I prefer his Taco Hole.

[12] Is it for sure he's having surgery? A major ankle injury is a great excuse for "diminished range" and thus a move to 3rd right?

15 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 17, 2012 3:20 pm

14) Yup. He's having it in three days. Four-five month recovery time.

16 Greg G   ~  Oct 17, 2012 4:40 pm

[12] Even if Jeter heals the ankle, this injury is going to take him out of his normal training regimen. Jeter will have to take it easy in St. Jetersburg, Florida, and likely spend a lot of time being pampered by whatever supermodel he is dating these days.

A move to 3rd might be just the thing he needs. It would kind of complete the little rivalry he has had with ARod over the years. ARod comes to Yanks and moves from short to 3rd, and Jeter moves to 3rd and ARod moves to the Diamondbacks.

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver