New York Baseball Digest – Mike Silva – October 13th, 2009 – I discussed this on Sunday and once again was criticized for saying that a â€œrelaxedâ€? A-Rod has as much to do with his success than anything. Dr. John F Murray, who appeared on my show back in June, had the following to say in Sundayâ€™s New York Post.
â€œIf heâ€™s becoming a little more honest . . . he would have less anxiety,â€? said Palm Beach sports psychologist Dr. John Murray. â€œHe would sleep better at night and be more relaxed. More focused. That is key.â€?
Dr. Murray was responding to a quote from a team insider who said A-Rod has â€œditched his philandering ways and is making a big effort to inject honesty and openness into his relationship with the actress Kate Hudson.â€? If only he had met Hudson five years ago perhaps the Yankees would already have their 27th World Series. I am kidding of course, but you have to admit that there is a clear change in A-Rod at the plate. That is why anyone who cites â€œsmall sample sizeâ€? is not looking at the big picture.
Ken Davidoff, who embraces all sorts of modern statistical theory, echoed much of what I have been saying on the show and the blog:
Itâ€™s never as simple as â€œNow A-Rod is relaxed, therefore, now heâ€™s great.â€? Someone has to pitch the ball to him, after all, and that pitch might be sublime, horrible or somewhere in between. But my goodness, heâ€™s playing the game with such a peace now, if you will. In previous postseasons, in tight spots or with runners on base, you could feel the tension oozing from his body. Yes, sometimes such tension can produce a flare, broken-bat single, and results are all that matter. But I canâ€™t remember too many instances in the previous five years where the defense robbed A-Rod of a hit. He just didnâ€™t square up the ball too often.
I have seen most every inning of Yankees postseason baseball the last 10 years. The pressure clearly got to A-Rod, along with many others on the Yankees, during the 2004 ALCS. Davidoff said it best when citing the lack of hard hit balls throughout the postseason. I wish I could get a copy of the ESPN interview before the 06â€² Detroit series. A-Rod was so tight during the conversation I thought he was going to snap like a rubber band. Obviously none of us are in A-Rodâ€™s head, but it doesnâ€™t take a PhD in psychology to recognize bad body language when you see it.
Finally, I think you have to point out how Rodriguez has made peace with Derek Jeter. The one black mark on Jeterâ€™s captain legacy is how he handled A-Rodâ€™s transition to New York and the Yankees. NYBD contributor Frank Russo mentioned in his Monday column that A-Rod, â€œstressed by the spotlight of both the Selena Roberts steroid story and his hip surgery, had a heartfelt talk with Jeter sometime during the season, where he â€œagainâ€? apologized for the comments he made about him in the April 2001 issue of Esquire Magazine.â€? I think it was petty of Jeter, and showed that even the great one can fall to one of the seven deadly sins, but at least A-Rod finally owned up and helped put the situation behind the duo. Peer pressure and respect is a big thing in sports. Sometimes confidence can be something as simple as the support of your teammates. Of course, you canâ€™t discount good pitching, fielding, and hitting, however the difference between playoff teams is so minuscule that the â€œintangiblesâ€? often can put a team over the top.
A-Rod is not out of the woods as Anaheim comes to town on Friday. Something tells me that his performance against the Twins was no accident and we will see more of this as the Yanks attempt to win title number 27.
Hope you enjoyed this article about sports psychology.