Alex Rodriguez is arguably the best player of his generation. He is on course to challenge Hank's all time HR record, he has the looks of a superstar, he has the wallet of a superstar, he has the jet set lifestyle of a superstar, and yet all he wants is to be loved and respected for being a great baseball player, and this my friends is where he made one terrible mistake.
By signing for the New York Yankees.
It wasn't his fault that he got offered a 10 yr/$252m contract was it? I think it is highly likely that any of us would've been thrilled to see a piece of paper float on to our desks with those type of figures on and we'd of scrambled to find a pen to sign it before it disappeared again. It wasn't his fault that because of his huge contract, the Rangers were unable to buy any good pitching that would turn them into a contender.
So A-Rod wanted to leave Texas, which was probably a good thing for both parties. The Rangers needed his contract off their books so they could build a contender and A-Rod wanted to contend, everyone is happy. So here is one of the greatest Shortstops off all time looking for a new home, now over in Boston, they see this as a great coup. A deal to send A-Rod to the Red Sox is agreed with Manny going the other way. The Rangers will save $100m odd and both teams get great offensive players, it seems like the perfect fit. However they want to restructure his contract, A-Rod doesn't care but the players union do, the deal doesn't get done.
Now over in a sleepy town a man who the Red Sox refer to as Aaron bleeping Boone is playing a game of pick-up basketball and injures himself. He injures himself pretty bad. The Yankees need a third baseman, A-Rod is so desperate to move to a contender he jumps at the chance of moving to the Yankees and in turn leaving his GG position behind him as the Yankees already have a guy entrenched at Short. That guy is Derek Jeter and here in lies the problem.
New York is Jeter's town.
Rightly or wrongly, this guy can do no wrong and boy I love DJ just as much as the next Yankee fan. We've won four World Championships with him fielding at Shortstop, he has always played hard and worked hard, he has always been something of a PR man's dream, attractive, comfortable with the spotlight and seems to thrive in the heat of playing baseball in the Bronx. It takes a lot for the Boo Birds to come out for Jeter, a real lot, for he is the chosen one. A-Rod on the other hand is not, he is the great offensive weapon, he was the reigning AL MVP when he was traded to the Yankees (he got it over Posada that year who finished third, I mean an MVP from a last placed team, bah!) he is now the reigning AL MVP. He was the player of the month for May. His record speaks for itself but a few bad games, a couple of fielding errors and he is on the receiving end of 50,000 boos.
When he got booed yesterday before the ball was caught in CF you have to feel sorry for the guy. He came back too early from a stomach virus, Jeter came back too early and is 1 for 16 but I don't hear any boos for him. That is because Jeter has earned the right in most people's eyes, they've seen him perform time and again for the Yankees, A-Rod hasn't.
A-Rod needs to do one of two things, he won't read this, even if he did he wouldn't listen to me but heck I'll say it anyway. Either he needs to get out of New York, which I think he'd be very reluctant to do as that would in his eyes make him a failure, or he needs to stop worrying about what the Yankee fans and the media think of him. His numbers do speak for themselves but he puts far too much pressure on himself to deliver. Someone once said to me that A-Rod wouldn't be accepted as a Yankee until he hit a walk-off HR in game seven of the World Series and sadly I feel as though that person is right.
On paper it was the move that would tip the Bombers over the edge, adding the best player in baseball to what was already a stacked line-up would equal years of dominance, sadly it hasn't worked out like that. A-Rod says all the right things, maybe that is part of the problem, A-Rod isn't being himself, he is trying to be who everyone wants him to be.
Alex, you are a fine player, and I have little doubt that you are a fine man too. However please be yourself, sod what everyone thinks of you, as long as you put up the numbers you will be loved and respected by the Yankee fans and you can turn it around. Look across the diamond and standing at first you'll see Jason Giambi, hated by most but has fought back and is now at the very least respected by the majority of Yankee fans and loved by most. You can be a great Yankee, you just need to thrust off the shackles and stop thinking so much, just do.
So did A-Rod make a mistake by joining the Yankees? Probably he did, but it's a mistake that can be put right. If he wants love and respect then he has it in him to bring it out of the fans and the media, he just needs to know who he is. When he finds it he needs to stop trying to be Derek Jeter mk II, if he does then everything will fall into place, trust me.