Thursday, May 25, 2006


I feel for A-Rod. There, I said it. Odd considering the income disparity between us, with his $250 million baseball contract and my lavish salary (ahem) as an urban youth worker. Still, I feel for him because of the weight of unrealistic expectations. Granted, the expectations are, to a degree, self inflicted because no one forced A-Rod to sign his ceiling busting contract, and paeans like the rest of us can't fathom getting paid any amount, never mind $25 million a year, to live every boy's fantasy as a baseball player. At that price, the thinking goes, you best be near perfect. Forget .300/30/100; we fans want to see .350/45/130. Year-long MVP performances notwithstanding, anything less than game-winning RBIs in the bottom of every ninth inning means you fail in the clutch. As a result, A-Rod's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. For instance today, even after starring in a 2-1 series victory over the loathsome Sawx, it seemed that every sports talk show in New York was debating his value as a ballplayer. Yes, he's off to a sub-par start (for A-rod; most other players would trade production numbers with him in a heartbeat). But the season's only two months old. Plus, he's still only 30 and already has 440 homers, nearly 2000 hits, 230 SBs, a rookie-of-the-year award, and two MVPs. His work ethic is impeccable and, contract aside, he's proven to be willing to sacrifice individual ambition for the betterment of the team. So what, he "only" bats .285 with runners in scoring position, compared to .305 the rest of the time. I guess I'm partial to A-Rod because his breakout rookie season was the same year we started Generation Xcel. At 20 he was a year younger than me, but even then he had all-time potential written all over him. In a game predicated on the fact that failing just 70% of the time makes one a hall-of-famer, he's far surpassed the expectations placed on him as a kid. In the years since, about all he's done wrong is prove that no one should get paid $250 million to play a game. But we knew that already, so let's get over it and enjoy him while his career lasts.


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