Last night A-Rod and the Yankees faced the Blue Jays for the first time since the infamous fake “I got it” yell that caused the BJ’s third baseman to drop the ball. In the gameA-Rod was thrown at and later slid very hard and very out of his way into Jay’s SS John McDonald. Normally I would just think to myself, “Well, A-Rod is a douche and he deserved it,” but for some reason I had a very different feeling.
I realized I’m starting to feel sorry for Rodriguez. Why? Here’s a guy who is almost unquestionably the best player in the game. He’s the highest paid player in the game, which means he’s the highest paid player in any of the big three professional leagues. He plays on a team that has been in the playoffs every year he’s played for them. And yet, somehow, he seems like the most insecure athlete I have ever seen.
Most athletes are cocky and egotistical for a reason. To get to where they are, beat so many odds, and accomplish something that so many people aspire to do and fall short they must have the utmost confidence in themselves. Anything less, any self-doubt could cause them to fail. That is why we love the rare athlete who is both good and humble. It is also why I find it so remarkable that A-Rod, someone who possesses so much talent, seems so unsure of himself.
Think about the biggest stories in his career and you will realize that almost all of them were some sort of attempt to validate himself to the people around him. He signed the largest contract ever, which showed to the world just how good he really was. But then the losing got to be too much and he wanted to go somewhere where he could win. So he went to New York, eager to prove that he could contribute to a winning team and validate his career with a ring. But he wanted to prove himself to his teammates, the fans and the world so badly that he struggled immensely (hitting under .200 for the first month of the season). Playoffs? Same story. He struggled so much last year against Detroit that Torre dropped him to eighth in the batting order.
So when A-Rod hit home run 499 and promptly went 0-21 I wasn’t surprised at all. For as much talent as he has, the second he starts thinking about things he starts doubting himself and he has problems. Bottom line is that he just wants people to like him. He wants his teammates to stick up for him (something the Yankees players have never really done). He does things like yelling to make someone drop the ball, slapping the ball out the mitt of the pitcher coving first, and it all comes across all wrong.
I’m retracting all the things I’ve said about Rodriguez and ignoring the fact that he’s a Yankee and saying this: I don’t think A-Rod is a bad guy. He’s just someone who, despite his talent and success, is very insecure and misguided in his attempts for acceptance. So for once let’s just give A-Rod a break.