Alex Rodriguez met with the media on Thursday and showed that last year's transition from awkward man-child to self-assured adult wasn't a temporary thing. He's still an easy target for local columnists looking to make lofty points about the kind of man Rodriguez is deep down inside, but he didn't give any reason to believe anything but another outstanding season is about to start.
That season will be one that continues to push Rodriguez up the ladder of baseball history, although his stature is something of a secret to the people who work for Major League Baseball. This excerpt from MLB.com's own account of A-Rod's presser is just about the most bizarre thing you'll read all month.
These next few seasons are the ones that will define him in history -- either as a very good player who did a few special things, or as one of the most sensational, remarkable talents to play the game.
A-Rod ranks 8th all-time in home runs, has won three MVP awards and ranks high on the list of just about every other meaningful offensive statistic in baseball history. In other words, the jury's already back in on that front and the only thing the next few years will define is whether or not he's the greatest player ever.
Earlier this week, the New York Timessat down with guys from Baseball Prospectus and Baseball Projection to try and figure out what the final career statistics of Rodriguez and Derek Jeter would look like. While allowing that there are plenty of unknowns in these projections -- both known and unknown, should Donald Rumsfeld be interested -- the numbers are mind-boggling to contemplate for a few moments during a February snowstorm.
Jeter could wind up with more hits than Honus Wagner and has a good chance of finishing with the second most hits of any righthanded hitter in American League history. His projected 3446 hits would be the most today, but he'll have to hold off his teammate to keep the crown. A-Rod forecasts as the all-time leader in runs, home runs, RBI and, just to balance things out, strikeouts. He's also pegged for 3541 hits, although we'll repeat that these projections are just for entertainment purposes and you shouldn't make any bets using them unless the odds are strongly in your favor.
The final numbers don't actually matter all that much. What does matter, especially for A-Rod, is that all the noise and hyperbole that accompanies everything these guys do during their career often obscures the fact that they are two of the finest players who ever stepped onto the diamond. You don't need to look any further than the above excerpt to see that an occasional reminder of that fact can do us all a lot of good.
We're the real winners in all of this, of course, because we get to watch these two men for the rest of their careers. Appreciate it, friends.