Saturday, January 31, 2009

A-Rod: It Must Be The Name (#13)

I often admonish writers for trying to compare individual sports to team sports. Please admonish me if I fail to contrive a worthwhile comparison between Alex Rodriguez and Andy Roddick. Here it is.

Like Alex Rodriguez, Andy Roddick has all of the physical tools—including a record 155 MPH serve and a powerful forehand. Also, like Alex, he is a good looking, marketable gentleman as he currently endorses Rolex, Lexus, American Express and Lacoste. He is also known for his sense of humor and hyperactivity, and is often overheard on television trading jokes with the crowd during matches.

The Two A-Rods are perhaps best known for their inability to conquer their respective boogeymen. For the tennis player it is Roger Federer. In his career, Roddick is 2-16 against Federer; including 0-7 in Grand Slam play and 0-3 in Grand Slam Finals. For the baseball player, that monster is the Postseason. His October line is .279/.361/.483, which pales in comparison to his career line of .306/.389/.578, especially in terms of slugging percentage.

Driving their fans to AA, Alex and Andy have not done much on the big stage in about 5 years. Since Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS ( I have now re-erased the memory from my brain), A-Rod has come to the plate in the postseason with 38 runners on base and has stranded every single one of them. This is despite being the highest paid player in Major League Baseball. In this time, Roddick has not won any Grand Slam, despite being one of the highest-paid purse winners in tennis.

Their most famous (or should I say infamous?) mutual shortcoming is their failure to stabilize the greatness that preceded them. Once Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees on the supposed “Valentine’s Day Massacre” in 2004, he was expected to bring a World Series title to Bronx almost every year he was on the team. Since his arrival, the Yankees have not won a single championship. Roddick was supposed to continue the American dominance of tennis associated with Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. However, his single Grand Slam title has failed to sustain this dominance.

Roddick and Rodriguez appear to possess many of the same negative attributes. Although they possess some of the best physical tools in their respective sports, their mental psyches have forestalled them from becoming all-time greats. Both have a great drive to win and are tremendously competitive. However, this admirable competitive drive seems to conquer their bodies at key times and their performance suffers.

Both appear to have a pre-programmed, mechanical gameplan and often fail to adjust the situation accordingly. Rodriguez is a guess hitter. Even when he is down in the count he focuses on a location over the plate instead of adjusting to the contact and making simple contact. Often with runners in scoring position he is hellbent on hitting a big HR. Roddick bases his entire game on his lightning quick serve. He relies on it to get points via aces or set up his nice forehand. However, in the event that an opponent is able to play his serve, his decision to camp out on the baseline makes it difficult to return a ball on his backhand side.

Maybe it was unfair for all of these expectations to be levied upon the two A-Rods. However, as St. Luke told us in his Gospel, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Despite being given tremendous talent, all that Alex and Andy have provided are heartache and despair.

To succeed, I would simply recommend that they take a deep breath, relax and let the game come to them instead of trying to be the game themselves.

Number of Day Until Spring Training: Alex Rodriguez (#13)

Special guest appearance courtesy of New Stadium Insider.
  • Professor Purple Lips
  • Double Play-Rod
  • Mr. 162
  • Madonna's Prima Donna
  • The Ace Of April
  • The Gay Of May
  • The Queen Of 13
  • The Big Frosted Tipper
  • Lightning Rod
  • ICR
  • The Turd At Third
  • Stray-Rod
  • Alice Rodriguez
  • And most recently, A-Fraud
[Ed. Note: Joe, Frank & I might have made some of those up]

The man has a lot of demeaning nicknames for a 3 time MVP with the career trajectory and guaranteed contract that put him on pace to break the all-time home runs record, primarily as a shortstop and third baseman.

The best seats I ever had to a Yankee game were about six rows back from the Yanks' batter's box. The game had been rained out the night before and I was still playing online poker for a "living", so I was more than happy to rearrange my so-called schedule and scoop them up. Chien-Ming Wang threw 7 2/3IP of scoreless ball en route to a win over the Tigers (A-Rod went 0-3 and reached on a wild pitch).

In A-Rod's first time up, he grounded into a double play. When he was standing in the on-deck circle before his second at bat in the home half of the fourth, a guy in front of us got up and yelled, "ANDY RODDICK IS THE REAL A-ROD!!!". He was a Yankees fan.

Our 2007 Saturday package granted us the privilege of witnessing both his walk-off grand slam against the Orioles and his 500th career home run. Our seats were in Section 7, giving us the absolute perfect view down the left field line, and while everyone was still leaning to see if it was going to stay fair, we were already going apeshit.

I've been dreading writing this post ever since no one else claimed it a week and a half ago. There's too much to go into. The booing, the messy divorce, the Freudian implications of him dating Madonna, the Jeter friendship saga, and him playing for the Dominican Republic in the WBC despite never having lived there. Of course there were also his 2007 season, the above moments, the 2004 ALDS, and the home run he ripped off of the facing of the left field upper deck (watch).

Even during his blistering 2007 season, whenever he hit a dramatic home run, on his way to first base, he would still look into the dugout for approval.

Every Yankee fan has their own balance of love and hatred for him. I would place mine at about 70/30, respectively. It flipped to about 10/90 when he opted out of his contract during the '07 World Series. Usually what a player does off the field is not that big of a deal. It all comes down to what you do after the manager hands in the line-up card and before Kim Jones does her terrible post game interview.

But God Almighty, this fucker does his best to make you care. He is so polarizing, he polarizes people within themselves.

For better or for worse, the Yankees married A-Rod last offseason with the incentive-injected 10 year, $275M contract they extended to him. If he leaves the Yankees, it will make his divorce with Cynthia look tidy and private.

I would like to end this post by giving A-Rod the type of friendly advice that actual friendship, by nature, would preclude you from ever giving:



You really need to break up with Madonna. Can you not see the writing on the wall? She is GOING TO RUIN YOUR FUCKING LIFE.

The last thing you need is to date someone with an ego that might be even bigger than yours. She's insane. The Kabbalah thing...

Bro, she fucked Dennis Rodman...


The Maritimes [Music] [Non-Sports]

Stumbling upon the above gentleman's music was a total fluke. I found it when was downloading an album by Tash I actually purchased when I was a junior in high school and used to listen to with my boy Calvin driving around after school in Albany. My BitTorrent site has what they call "Similar Artist Maps", which are incredibly useful for finding music similar to other stuff you like.

Here is Eric Clapton's:

Pretty logical, right? It connects him to his side projects like Derek and the Dominoes, Cream and Blind Faith, people he's collaborated with such as B.B. King and Derek Trucks, and also similar guitarists like Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Now take a look at Tash's:

Tash was a member of The [sic] (should be "Tha") Alkaholiks, and DJ Revolution did some of the tracks on their later albums. The fact that he is linked with Classified is either a small sample size glitch or a very clever joke.

Rico Smith a.k.a Catastrophe (Tash) is a black dude from the West Coast of the U.S. and Classified is a white dude from the East Coast of Canada. They couldn't be further apart geographically or stylistically. But I like them both, so maybe the site is just that good.

The thing that is really awesome about Classified's music is that it's blissfully unselfconscious. He raps about being from Nova Scotia and says "oot" and "aboot" in his rhymes. If for nothing other than the unintentional comedy of a Canadian rapper who actually sounds Canadian, give the song below a listen. He's opened for Ludacris, Busta Rhymes and The Game, so he's got some real skills as well.

He forced his way up through the ranks of the underground rap scene, doing all of his own recording and producing on his own dime before signing a deal with URBNET Records in 2004.

"The Maritimes" is a genuine and aboveboard tribute to his home territory, framed by an underlying track of bagpipes.
I'm from the East Coast of Canada, home of the bag pipe,
Known for the fiddle players, beer and our keg price,
Known for Alexander Keith's and the Donair,
Home of the Mooseheads, but I don't really go there,
We pay a buck for a litre of gas (and)
Smokes cost $10 a pack (damn)
We always mix our tobacco with weed,
It's just the way
, we always done it, shit is natural to me...