Mark Feinsand decided to parse A-Rod’s comments after last night’s 3 home run barrage in Kansas City:
Less than eight weeks ago, Alex Rodriguez tried to change the way people looked at him despite the fact that he was marching toward 600 career home runs.
“The columns I worry about are RBI and wins,” Rodriguez said in Arizona on June 22. “I’ve never considered myself a home run hitter.”
A-Rod stuck to that story for the past two months, most notably during his 12-game homerless streak between homers 599 and 600. Yet after his three-homer performance on Saturday night, Rodriguez seemed to change his tune.
“I haven’t really hit for any power this year. It’s been frustrating,” A-Rod said, admitting what most of us have suspected all along. “Being stuck at 599 was really a microcosm of what’s happened all year. I’ve been able to drive in runs and hit some doubles here and there, but overall, I’ve hit for no power.”
Rodriguez went on to say that he’s disappointed in his run production this season. This after a three-homer, five-RBI night that boosted him into the American League lead in RBI.
“It’s definitely frustrating that I haven’t been able to hit for more productivity this year,” he said.
Let me get this straight: all he cares about is RBI and wins. He’s leading the league with 97 RBI and the Yankees’ 72 wins are more than any team in baseball. So why the frustration?
This is classic A-Rod. He says one thing, then contradicts himself five minutes later. If he truly cares about nothing besides driving in runs and helping the team win, then he should be on cloud nine. A player with more than 600 home runs can say he doesn’t consider himself to be a home run hitter all he wants, but at the end of the day, he’s a home run hitter whether he likes it or not.
Once we are picking nits, I decided to listen to the audio of this interview (from Lohud) and transcribe most of Alex’s statements. Here are the key quotes:
“For me it was nice to carry the team for one night. These guys have been doing a lot of carrying of me all year.”
“its definitely frustrating that I havent been able to hit for more productivity this year. But overall, I think, my approach has been to think small.”
In response to a question about leading league in RBI’s:
“Yeah, Ive definitely taken a lot of pride in driving in runs, big ones for our team, but overall I think there is a lot of room for improvement.”
Feinsand asked: You’re not trying to hit homers, is it less of an issue since 600? Alex said:
“You know Mark, I havent really hit for ANY power this year, so its been frustrating. The idea that I was stuck at 599 is a microcosm of what has happened all year. I’ve been able to drive in runs, hit some doubles here and there, but overall I’ve hit for no power.”
“I dont think they key is power, I think the key is consistency and hitting the ball hard, driving the ball to the walls, and eventually some home runs are nice.”
I think the quotes looked at in totality provide a lot more context in which to parse A-Rod’s words. He is upset about his productivity, thinks there is room for improvement overall, and is frustrated that he has not been able to provide any power. Note that he never specifically references home runs except to say that “some would be nice.” While Feinsand automatically sees a contradiction, an equally valid interpretation is to assume that Alex is frustrated by the lack of power because he knows that more power would lead to greater productivity and more RBI’s.
The more important point is that none of this should matter. Even if A-Rod did contradict himself, it was over such a minute point as to be practically irrelevant. We hear this kind of stuff from players all the time, where they suggest that personal achievement is unimportant as compared to team success. This is a standard cliche thrown out there by athletes, despite the fact that 95% of them know exactly where they stand statistically and monitor their own performance regularly. Yet when A-Rod uses the same tropes and then happens to use the word “frustrated” in the same sentence as “power,” it is treated by some as a major revelation that “exposes his true feelings” and warrants criticism.
There were the makings of a positive story here, in which an aging slugger admits that his lofty RBI totals are not the be all, end all, and that the team has missed his productivity and has been carrying him. The reaction we got instead, after a 3 homer night, smacks of the “Get A-Rod” mentality that seems unlikely to ever fade.
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