If you’re amongst the few who aren’t sick to death of Alex Rodriguez’ public self-analysis, another dose is on the way this coming Monday when the Yankees’ third baseman opens wayyyy up on “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel”. The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman either has HBO On Demand or someone sent him an advance DVD.
During a profile of new Cubs manager Lou Piniella (above), who managed Rodriguez for seven seasons in Seattle, A-Rod is interviewed by Frank Deford. While Deford never asks Rodriguez to compare Piniella to Joe Torre, it is abundantly clear the managerial qualities – and style – A-Rod enthusiastically attributes to Piniella are not subscribed to by the Yankees manager.
Rodriguez also tells Deford that Piniella “has been just like a father to me.” During the piece, Piniella picks up a bat with the inscription: “To my second mom.” The bat was sent by A-Rod to Piniella’s wife, Anita.
Visions of Piniella wigging big on umpires, something Torre never does, still register positively with Rodriguez.
A-Rod has a serious look when he says: “But that type of passion went right on through us as players. For me it worked 100%.”
For Rodriguez, Piniella is a man of radical contrasts. The sensitive side of Piniella, his ability to coddle players, also motivated him. A-Rod says during his rookie season in Seattle, Piniella blasted him for swinging wildly at a sequence of Dennis Eckersley sliders.
“I remember being 18, almost in tears,” Rodriguez says. “… I just felt like, ‘Get me back in my senior high school uniform.’ Then sure enough (Piniella) gives me a big kiss on top of my head. He goes, ‘Son, I love you. I love you. I just want you to do well.’
“From that day on,” Rodriguez says, “for the next 12 years, he’s been just like a father to me.”
Rodriguez calls Piniella a “great” teacher.
He tells a story about finishing up a postgame spread after a night game, showering and making his way out of the Mariners clubhouse.
Doing his own Piniella impersonation, A-Rod says: “‘Come here son, let’s work on your swing.’ … This is now 1 o’clock in the morning. I can remember it like it was yesterday. He (Piniella) will be there in his underwear and T-shirt, maybe smoking a cigarette, and we’ll stay there until 2:30-3 o’clock in the morning talking about a swing.”
Piniella admitted he cried when Rodriguez left Seattle.
“No, I didn’t know that (he cried),” Rodriguez says. “That was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I’ll be honest with you, it was a relief once (Piniella) left Seattle because I knew the torture stopped a little bit … I’m free.”
If he decides to opt out, Rodriguez will be “free” again. The emotion he displays while speaking about his former manager and mentor leaves a distinct impression that reuniting with Piniella would be a dream come true.
Rodriguez was 0-2 in the Yanks’ 4-3 Grapefruit League defeat of the Pirates earlier today, while Jorge Posada hit his first HR of the spring, a 4th inning solo blast off Marty McLeary.
Bad news for the Braves, even worse news for Mrs. Cox : Atlanta skipper Bobby is hinting at retirement in two years’ time.
Former Mets 2B Kaz Matsui tells the Canadian Press, “”I wasn’t Kaz Matsui in New York. I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t the player I really am.” Matsui, who showed signs of life with the Rockies last September, is reportedly taking English lessons.
“(The language) is really, really difficult,” Matsui said. “I can understand most of what people say, but it is hard from me to respond about it.”
Perhaps, in retrospect, it wasn’t a good idea for the Mets to have ordered those “Learning Big Spot English The Chris Russo Way” cassettes.
At the risk of moving into Liz Clayton territory, the Fanhouse’s Matt Watson links to video of the A’s mascot, Stomper embracing the Hyphy craze. Phil Mushnick, if you’re still up, you might want to complain about this tomorrow morning.