So it seems A-Rod spent the offseason working on his, um, “fortitude.”
See, now that’s what I like to hear from him. Let me explain.
First off, I would love to hear “the fans take their booing and shove it. I’m here to play ball and that’s what I’m gonna do to the best of my ability. If they boo, they boo. I’m not listening.”
But that’s never going to happen with A-Rod, it’s just not his personality. He needs everyone to like him. Sure, maybe it’s a form of social anxiety disorder, but I doubt any doctor is putting him on Xanax. But I can completely understand his need for social acceptance. I think wanting A-Rod to be like Jeter (who says “F–k all” to what people think about him) is just plain unrealistic.
What Yankee fans should want from A-Rod is him to have his mindset in a place that makes him the most comfortable, because that’s when he hits like an all-time great (and Yankee fans should want him to hit like an all-time great).
So that’s why I say I like it when he gives interviews like this:
“You’re asking me what my sincere feeling is. I want to 100 percent stay in New York. Period. That’s it. I don’t know how many ways I can say it.”
“It’s a do or die situation. Either New York is going to kick me out of New York this year, say ‘I’ve had enough of this guy, get him the hell out of here,’ and we have an option. Or New York is going to say, ‘Hey, we won a world championship, you had a big year, you were a part of it and we want you back.”
“When you try to fight that wave of the fans being negative, expecting you to do things and you’re playing pretty lousy on top of it, then you try to do a little more than you have to.”
See, I like when A-Rod is honest with the media, the fans and himself. No more of the savvy, over-polished stuff. Honesty. It was hard for him to get booed, and as much as he wants to stay in New York, if the fans make it clear that they don’t want him here, he will go. Acknowledge that the fans get to him. As much as we want our baseball players to be like the Kevin Costner character in For Love of the Game (“clear the mechanism”), that’s not A-Rod’s reality. So stop trying to pretend that it is. It was more of a distraction for him to keep up the facade than to deal with the booing.
Same thing with the whole “Jeter and A-Rod are BFF.” Acknowledging that it isn’t true anymore, and that he can stop playing the charades that it is will help him. Jeter probably doesn’t give a rat’s ass. A-Rod does.
When he can stop pretending, he can start hitting. And that’s all I want out of him.