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May 23, 2006

A-Rod's Daily Call From Jim Fannin

From the Boston Globe:

The Streak is now more than a decade old, but few know about it, and Alex Rodriguez isn't talking about it.

For the last 1,560 or so games, the Yankees star has received help from a mental performance coach before every game.

''I don't talk about Jim, so, if you have any other questions?" says A-Rod earlier this month about Jim Fannin, who calls himself America's ZoneCoach.

But the reigning American League MVP has written glowingly about him.

In 2005, Fannin authored a book, ''S.C.O.R.E. for Life," which proclaims to be ''The Secret Formula for Thinking Like a Champion." The acronym stands for self-discipline, concentration, optimism, relaxation, and enjoyment. Rodriguez penned the foreword.

''Jim has either left me a phone message or spoken to me in person or on the phone for every game of my career [since April 1996]," writes Rodriguez. ''Every game."

Just about this time, last year, we learned about A-Rod's therapy sessions. And, now we hear about these daily calls to 1-800-PEP-TALK.

Now, I'm not knocking Alex for seeking help. It's good when someone knows that they need help - and then goes out to get it. It's better than good - it's great.

But, hearing all this, over the last year, I do have to wonder: Is New York the best place for Alex to play, given his (now obvious) need for continuous therapeutic intervention (and such)?

Yes, we learned last season that Rodriguez can succeed in New York. But, at what price? Maybe he would be happier to play for a team like the Rangers or the Braves? Maybe he will not be able to always produce like he did in 2005 because of the constant need to battle through what New York brings?

Recently, I heard it from someone who said that they heard it from a source in the Yankees front office - and, yes, I know that things can get mangled in such a game of "telephone" - that the front office's impression of A-Rod is that he's a, well, let's just say "little kitty cat."

This label could be the "macho" reaction to the fact that A-Rod does seem to require so much mental maintenance. But, I have to wonder, if this is the perception of the Yankees, would they consider dealing Alex out of town (if they had the right offer)?

Granted, the market for a player at Rodriguez' pay scale is limited. It's somewhat the same (now) as when the Red Sox tried to move Manny.

There is a clause, reportedly, in A-Rod's contract that allows him to terminate the deal after 2007, 2008 or 2009. Maybe that's the way out for all concerned - reach a settlement after next year that allows Alex to walk in exchange for a lump sum payment? (Just imagine the stroke that the MLBPA would have over this one.)

In any event, bottom line, the more that I hear about Alex, and the more that I think about it, the more I want to say that getting out of New York might be the best thing for him and the Yankees. At least, that's the thought for now.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at May 23, 2006 10:45 AM

Comments

Hogwash. Not only won't you get equal value in a trade but there's no reason to make the trade in the first place. I hate to use TV in making an argument but I'm sure that there are many athletes, just like many mobsters, that use therapy as a means of coping with stress. Lets not romanticize the Gary Cooper stuff too much -- Mickey Mantle dealt with stress by drinking and beating his wife. ARod deals with stress and gets tips on coping by using a professional therapist. That's bad?

This macho stuff is complete garbage. How do you know that Schilling or Varitek don't also use therapists?

ARod is a great player. There's nothing to indicate that he'd do better in Kansas City -- he won an MVP last year in New York, coming off a sub-par (for him) 2004 and that ALCS thing. If he wasn't able to pull it together for us last year then why would he be better off in KC?

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 11:50 AM

There's a lot less pressure in K.C.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 11:53 AM

The man is the defending AL MVP fer cryin out loud. I think he can handle playing in NYC.

As an aside, this whole "pressure to play in NYC" is bunk. You either can play, or you cannot. Mattingly succeeded here, Chris Hammond succeeded here, Roger Maris succeeded here. Dave Winfield succeeded here. Mike Mussina succeeded here.

What more proof do people want?

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 12:03 PM

If ARod could handle the pressure that was on him after 2004, there's no reason why he can't handle it now. All this "ARod is a pussy" stuff is complete crap. But then I'm sure that some statheads out there can prove that Scott Hatteberg or some other Saber-darling would be a great player to trade for since ARod's so much of a pussy.

If ARod prayed daily and received several calls from his priest/rabbi/imam before the game, would that bother anyone? This is the same damn thing...

I love the Yankees and I love New York but this kind of stuff is why it sucks being a Yankee fan sometimes.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 12:08 PM

Raf - what about Ed Whitson, Jose Contreras, Toby Harrah, Rondell White, Jeff Weaver, Kenny Rogers, and Javier Vazquez? Did they succeed in NY? Why?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 12:11 PM

Actually, Raf brings up an interesting person. Roger Maris. He did well here - but, eventually, it ate him up. There's a lesson there.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 12:13 PM

And if he was playing up to your expectations would you still think it would be in his best interests to leave?

So, someone knows someone who knows someone who says that a player is a baby (for wont of another phrase). It often seems to be an unnamed source who questions another's 'character.' With no agenda, of course.

If Yankee fans dislike him so much, for whatever reasons, maybe they'd prefer if he was gone. Then everyone could revel in the glow of Miguel Cairo or try to talk Luis Sojo into coming back.

It's a long season. Didn't Rodriguez knock in some key runs during a stretch a couple of weeks ago?

I knew as soon as he hit the homer in the 9th there'd be hell to pay. But if he had just waved at a 3rd strike there'd be plenty of pundits saying he gave up.

Posted by: RICH [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 12:38 PM

Raf - what about Ed Whitson, Jose Contreras, Toby Harrah, Rondell White, Jeff Weaver, Kenny Rogers, and Javier Vazquez? Did they succeed in NY? Why?
======
fck, ate my post... Damn

Whitson was bad before he came here

Contreras had one good and bad year here. So did Rogers. Harrah had a bad year before the Yanks, and a good year after. Bad year after that, & out the league. Weaver was a head case, and even in LA had a weird season
http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/jeff-weavers-2005-season-by-robert-louis-stevenson/

White played in the major media market known as Chicago, and Vazquez was injured.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 01:05 PM

1) Can Jeff Weaver be a good pitcher?

Yes, he can. He was unspeakably awful in 2003, but...

1) He got jerked around between starting and relieving all year, and
2) His infield defense in New York was horrible, and his outfield defense wasn't anything to brag about either.

He's got a lot of points in his favor heading into 2004. Weaver is moving out of the DH league and into the Senior Circuit, so every ninth batter will be the pitcher's spot in the lineup. And while Yankee Stadium reduced run-scoring by 8% in 2003, Dodger Stadium was even more of a pitcher's park, suppressing scoring by 17%.

The Yankees' middle infield in 2003 featured two great hitters who also happened to be butchers with the glove. Meanwhile, the Dodgers' middle infield couldn't hit a beach ball with a tennis racket, but they were arguably the best-fielding pair in the National League.

Weaver is still young (just 27 this season), he's got a perfect health record, and before 2003 he appeared to be on his way to a successful career:

YEAR AGE IP ERA ERA+
1999 22 164.2 5.55 89
2000 23 200.0 4.32 111
2001 24 229.1 4.08 109
2002 25 199.2 3.52 121

I'll be bold - Jeff Weaver will have a sub-4.00 ERA in 2004. He won't replace Kevin Brown, but getting traded to the Dodgers will put Jeff Weaver's once-promising career back on track.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/5questions_dodgers/

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 01:06 PM

What about Ed Whitson, Jose Contreras, Toby Harrah, Rondell White, Jeff Weaver, Kenny Rogers, and Javier Vazquez? Did they succeed in NY? Why?

-----------------

Whitson sucked before he ever came to NYC. Harrah was 35 - not surprising that he too sucked. Rondell White had a bad year and was, not surprisingly, hurt.

Jeff Weaver has had one great year, a couple so-so years, and that's it. Its also worth noting that Weaver pitched reasonably well for the Yanks in '03. After he gave up the homer in Game 4 of the Serious though . . . and doing poorly after that isn't particular to NYC.

Contreras needed a competent pitching coach. As did Vazquez, who was probably also affected by the wear and tear on his arm from Montreal (thanks Frank Robinson!).

Kenny Rogers is just a moron. ;)

Posted by: Shaun P. [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 01:08 PM

Sorry Raf, didn't mean to repeat you!

Posted by: Shaun P. [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 01:08 PM

Raf - check the stats on these guys. Whitson was near average - and then tanked in NY - and then did better when he left. Ditto Harrah. There's no question in my mind that there's more pressure playing in NY than places like Texas and SD (Jay Witasick anyone?). And, not everyone can handle pressure. That's a fact about the human condition that cannot be ignored. Ever hear of a panic attack? They're real and they happen for a reason. And, since ball players are people, they too can fold/fail under pressure.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 01:21 PM

Steve, sometime you jump to dramatic conclusions! Fire Joe Torre, end the problematic relationship with A-Rod, sacrific lambs at the altar of Pallas Athena, etc etc. What's next?! ;)

Posted by: Nick from Washington Heights [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 01:26 PM

Actually, Nick, I used a lot of "if" and "might" in this one - because it's just ideas and suggestions. It's not meant to be presented as a hard conclusion.

FWIW, as a blogger, I've found it's better to have an opinion - regardless if it's right or wrong - to keep people interested. So, I do tend to try and float stuff out there - even at half-speed - just for entertainment (for lack of a beter word).

This whole A-Rod suggestion falls into that - - it's just an idea said out-loud. I'm not making any bold disclosures here - because it's just an opinion - - - and, as I stated, one for the moment (that could change tomorrow).

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 01:34 PM

Steve,

You can't just cherry-pick some people who underperformed and blame it on the environs. Career performances fluctuate from year to year for any number of reasons. Doug Davis was bad in Texas, does his next two years of success mean that he couldn't handle Arlington? Does his regression this year mean he can no longer handle Milwaukee? I think these discussions are reductive and absurd, and unless they are supported by underperformance rates (whatever that means) in NY as compared to everywhere else in the league, these assertions about "handling NY" are anecdotal at best, and hacktacular at worst.

Posted by: festus [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 01:58 PM

Steve, just poking fun. No harm meant. I recognized that you were just thinking out loud. And if you knew what was going on in my head during certain past Yanks seasons,you'd have me locked up. I seriously wanted Kenny Rogers sent to prison for suckitude in NYC. It should have been a crime what he did for us. Alas, the legal code does not offer an opinion on it.

Posted by: Nick from Washington Heights [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 02:04 PM

Heck! I'm a guy who would NEVER have traded for A-Fraud.

In the meantime get him a copy of 'Mentalball' by Dr. Richard Crowley.

And a copy for RJ.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 02:14 PM

Raf - check the stats on these guys. Whitson was near average - and then tanked in NY - and then did better when he left. Ditto Harrah. There's no question in my mind that there's more pressure playing in NY than places like Texas and SD (Jay Witasick anyone?).
=============================
Whitson became a full-time SP in 1979 with the Giants. He put up a -5 RSAA. He alternated between positive and negative RSAA from 1979-1985, which was his first year with the Yanks. The wheels fell off in 1986, and he was traded to the Padres, where he also put up a negative RSAA. Negative in 1987 & 1988. If it was an issue of pitching in NY, he would've done well after he was traded to SD, if not in '86, then '87. He didn't have an effective year until 1989. Then he had another one in 1990. '91 he had a bad year, and retired (during or after, I do not remember). He saw postseason action with the Padres in 1984, FWIW.

Toby Harrah had 48 RCAA in 1982, dropped to -2 in 1983. Traded to the Yanks (for Otis Nixon, HA!) he put up a -6 RCAA. The Rangers acquired him, he had a good and bad year with them (22 & -6) and he was done after the second season with the Rangers.

And Jay Witasick had a negative RSAA from 1996-2000.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 02:18 PM

festus - I'm not even talking production here, with A-Rod. It's more a coping-thing. If he needs help to play here and be happy, and if the team and the fans are unhappy with him, then why keep doing it?

Nick - thanks. No sweat.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 02:21 PM

I'm not going to read very much into Alex's MP coach. Presumably it helps him focus on playing the game and not being distracted by anything else. It's something he's been doing the last nine years (1560 games) so it goes back to Seattle days, it is not "now obvious," it helped him become one of the top 2-3 players in the game. And I don't think he was too happy playing with the Rangers.

Lots of athletes use mental coaches. They help the athletes visualize what they are going to do in there performance, such as in downhill skiing.

And the entire KC Royals team isn't worth A-Rod. Terrence Long, maybe. But not Alex.

Posted by: rbj [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 02:27 PM

festus - I'm not even talking production here, with A-Rod. It's more a coping-thing. If he needs help to play here and be happy, and if the team and the fans are unhappy with him, then why keep doing it?
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It seems to work for him; he's been using this guy since 1996, when he was with the M's

I don't know if it's an issue of playing here and being happy, I think it's an issue of comfort.

Like I said in the other page, a lot of people are using therapy and counseling. So it doesn't seem like that big a deal. Everyone has their "thing" I suppose this is Rodriguez's.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 02:30 PM

I don't care one way or the other on A-Rod using this guy, but I think it's kind of funny that he said "His attitude has never wavered. I've never heard him talk in a negative way. Ever. He has been an all-night supermarket of encouragement..."

A-Rod, the guy is not paid to be negative. His job is to fell your head with cheesy platitudes. Now go get em tiger.

Posted by: JeremyM [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 23, 2006 09:00 PM

I had the chance to have dinner with a professional Major League Umpire, Jim Reynolds, after a Yankees Rangers game in 2001 when Alex was with the Rangers.

The entire dinner, Jim was more than happy to answer all of my questions about the inside fraternity of baseball. After the usual questions - Who's ball moves the most "Maddux" Who is the nicest catcher "Einer Diaz" I asked him who was the biggest bitch in the MLB.

You guessed it, the answer was Alex Rodriguez. It came as a huge surprise to me, since I was a naive freshman in high school. However, I do trust what Reynolds said. He called A-Rod, "a whining bitch," and said that every call was scrutinized by Alex after every pitch. He also claimed that A-Rod was the, "most hated player" in the game because of the way he treated other players.

Because of this information, and the way A-Rod slapped at that ball in the 2004 ALCS, I have always felt that he is a big pussy. This doesn't mean that I don't cheer for him and want him to succeed, it just means that I don't expect him to run in from his position and slug a Baltimore Oriole in the face like my main man Daryl Strawberry (Varitek owned him in that scuffle in Boston).

The fact that the evidence in my opinion, proves he's a bitch and a pre-madonna, I am not surprised that he uses this coach. He needs to do what works for him and thats just it. Alex is paying for wanting to win so bad, so bad that he was willing to change his position from SS to 3B (putting stats aside and losing the tag as the best hitting shortstop in the history of the game). If this stress is the aftermath of his wish to win, then so be it. He dug his own grave

Posted by: themetssuck [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2006 12:09 AM

Wow. Thanks for sharing this story.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2006 10:03 AM

The fact that the evidence in my opinion, proves he's a bitch and a pre-madonna, I am not surprised that he uses this coach. Alex is paying for wanting to win so bad, so bad that he was willing to change his position from SS to 3B (putting stats aside and losing the tag as the best hitting shortstop in the history of the game).
=====================================
Am I the only one that thinks these two sentences contradict each other?

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2006 10:26 AM

Alex will be fine and I fully expect - and hope - that he will end his career a Yankee and a beloved Yankee at that with the all time home run record under his belt. Personally, I have seen nothing of him that makes me think that he is anything other than a decent guy.

He's going to catch a lot of stupid nonsense for this stuff with this coach, etc. but hopefully, it just strengthens him.

Posted by: pokeefe [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2006 11:25 AM

The facts are this in my view... AROD is arguably the BEST all around player in the game. The Yankees are lucky to have him for the bargain price we pay. The guys has his flaws, maybe he thinks too much. Anyway you put he is a great player for which we will not get equal value for. He will be one of the great Yankees.

Posted by: rmd0311 [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2006 12:05 PM