I have to admit I waver on A-Rod, he is without a doubt the player with the most natural skill in the game, a gracious swing, a power bat and a player who has Gold Gloves in his back pocket. He was the player who should be lauded as the anti-Bonds, a player who could appeal to all, the perfect smile, the good looks, the skill, the world was at his feet but he keeps failing at being that person.
He signed that contract in Texas which wasn't his fault and then he dissed Jeter in that article - it was a bad move that would come back to bite him in the bum in the future. After he left Texas he described it as 'playing with 24 kids' again showing a distinct lack of class even though he was probably speaking what he saw as the truth.
Now he's in New York, the home of the goldfish bowl, the pressure is on 24/7 and he's back alongside Jeter. He comes into 2007 with an option to leave his contract and potentially get out of New York and bolt to Chicago to join up with his mentor Lou Pinella or possibly go to the west coast. The option is one that he will trigger, he will get out of his contract because he can earn more as a Free Agent, it is just sensible. The only question is whether or not he'll trigger the option and then stay in the Bronx.
Yesterday on the Mike & The Mad Dog show on WFAN, he laid the foundations for his escape - the fans. He in essence said 'if I'm booed and I leave - it'll be their fault'. Every player wants to be praised by his fans and they will give you a pass for so long but even Jeter (during his two-month long slump in 2005) have heard the boos ringing out from the faithful.
This is in essence a contract year for A-Rod, a great year for him personally would see him cash in during the off-season and in turn it would help the team. The goal for every Yankee is to win the World Series, every year it is the same thing, you agree to play for the Yankees knowing the pitfalls and the pressure that this brings.
He has the best agent in the game in his corner, so why does A-Rod deal with the press so badly? It was broadly accepted that his opening speech of camp cleared the air, everything seemed to be going smoothly and he goes on radio and publicly talks about possibly leaving the club and once again becoming the centre of attention. One thing we've seen in the playoffs is that A-Rod doesn't perform well under pressure and yet he insists on being the man
and piling pressure and the empathises on himself.
I always say that one of the most important things in life is to learn from your mistakes, this is something A-Rod is failing to do. Just keep smiling, keep saying that you want to play in New York, no buts, no ifs, and play your game. Your game is good enough to do all the talking there is no need to use your mouth to talk, the problem seems to be that he feels he has to use his mouth as well, and that in turn effects his bat and the endless circle repeats itself yet again.
Play hard and you'll be cheered - it is pretty simple. I know it sounds almost too simple but that it how it is. It is expected that you'll test the FA waters in the off season so don't worry about how you'll come across, let's cross that bridge as and when. For now just play the game and enjoy the ride.