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August 09, 2006

E-Neel On A-Rod

Via KABC TV in LA, Eric Neel offers "E-Ticket: Why do we hate this guy?" - a very long but interesting look at the fans reaction to A-Rod.

Here's a clip from the end:

Will we ever come around to him? A world championship ring or some dramatic October heroics would go a long way, no doubt. We've seen big-time transformations in the past. Before winning his first Wimbledon, Andre Agassi was an image-conscious punk. Until the Bulls beat the Lakers in '91, Michael Jordan was a me-first highlight reel who didn't make the players around him better. Not until his Masters victory in 2004 did Phil Mickelson begin to shed his reputation as an empty talent who couldn't handle the big moment. Before his back-to-back Super Bowl titles, John Elway was a gunslinger who couldn't truly lead.

But although a ring would put A-Rod in a familiar category, the more interesting, and more likely scenario (the Yankees are an aging, pitching-weak team) is that things continue on the track they're on now. He's only 31, and we've had Bonds and Clemens to concentrate on these past 10 years, but if A-Rod stays healthy and productive in the years to come, it will become increasingly clear that he is hands-down the best player in the game, and is very likely the best all-around player any of us will ever have the privilege to see in person. Even without a title. Even with what we think is a sensitive heart. Even with what we perceive to be a scripted tongue.

As he makes his way toward some of the all-time records, will we soften our A-Rod stance and expand the register of what we can connect with, express empathy for? Or will we hold to the old tough-guy standards and keep doing him the way we do?

It's on us, not him, from here on out.

John Elway. I never thought of that - but, it fits A-Rod. Great all-time talent. The Baltimore-Denver and Texas-New York moves thing. Elway was not liked by many of his peers. The whole image-focus complaint. Elway had bad Super Bowls in 1987, 1988 and 1990. A-Rod has the 2004 ALCS and 2005 ALDS.

But, in the end, Elway walked out the door as a winner and loved by just about everyone.

It's an interesting comparison.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at August 9, 2006 01:07 PM

Comments

"...but if A-Rod stays healthy and productive in the years to come, it will become increasingly clear that he is hands-down the best player in the game, and is very likely the best all-around player any of us will ever have the privilege to see in person"

Perhaps you've heard of a guy named Pujols?

Posted by: hopbitters [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 02:36 PM

This is a question I've debated many times with my friends. Pujols has had an unbelievable start to his career but he's still got a little road ahead of him. ARod's further along in his career and has been chopping down the milestones at every turn. God forbid, but if they both perished tomorrow, I think ARod would make the Hall of Fame. I don't know if Pujols could make the Hall right now.

Of course, two to three years from now, Pujols will be right there.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 02:45 PM

Re: Pujols and Rodriguez, we are blessed to be watching both of them. A Yanks-Cardinals world series would be epic.

Posted by: carla [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 04:31 PM

If by "epic" you mean the Yanks would sweep in 4, then yes, it would be epic:)

Posted by: JeremyM [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 06:31 PM

Pujols is a great hitter (though rumors abound). But defensively he leaves much to be desired and isn't in Alex Rodriguez' league as a baserunner.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 06:54 PM