Alex Rodriguez and Ichiro Suzuki Teach Us a Valuable Lesson
"Be careful what you wish for," my grandmother often told me while I was growing up. Looking back, she always had a knack for dropping little hints like that from time to time.
Yet for the longest time I never quite understood that particular saying, especially its conclusion.
"You might just get it."
What did that mean exactly?
If you get what you want, you should be happy by default. End of story.
Of course, over time you learn exactly what it means, as life has a funny way of teaching you lessons every step of the way, and through time, you amass what some would call wisdom.
Understand I'm no wise man, far from it, but last week when seattlepi.com's Nick Eaton asked readers whether they felt bad for former Mariners and now-Yankees Ichiro and A-Rod respectively, I couldn't help but laugh.
No, not in the sense of the shameful joy that is schadenfreude, but instead knowing that both men put themselves in this situation by choice with the hope that in some way, shape or form a little bit of the Yankee mystique/magic would rub off on them during their time in the Bronx.
Yet what many players sometimes forget or perhaps ignore is that being a Yankee comes with the potential of great risk in addition to chance of being greatly rewarded. For the Yankees, the standard is so high that every season is deemed a failure in the Bronx if the Bombers fail to at the very least play in the Fall Classic.
Of course, this is no surprise to just about every fan of the game, but each October we all watch and wait to see what becomes of the Yankees, simply because we are rarely given much choice.
Jeter, whether you love him or hate him, is a Yankee through and through; meanwhile, A-Rod and Ichiro aren't.
Ultimately, I feel that both men made their choice and must now live with it.
I root neither for them or against them. If they win, good for them; if they lose, so be it.
Then I read an interesting take from someone who perhaps better than anyone could reflect on the situation, a man who knows the pressure of being an MVP third baseman: Mike Schmidt.
Schmidt, in his article for the Associated Press, offers a unique perspective on how A-Rod was cursed by his contract after leaving Seattle by stating, "In him, we all see a guy who hit the sports lottery and we think, if it were us, life would be a bowl of cherries and it would be easy to be everything to everyone."
Schmidt then continues by offering up perhaps the most telling and personal of statements,
"So many people say to me that I came along in baseball 20 years too early. They say imagine what you'd make if you played today. My answer is simple and has two parts: I'd be Alex Rodriguez, and I'm glad I'm not."
Sad, but true.
Somewhere in the span of the past two decades, Alex Rodriguez went from being a fresh-faced wunderkind to a pariah who has managed to wear out his welcome at every stop along the way.
Will he stay in pinstripes next year?
Hard to say, but perhaps they should take comfort in knowing that George Steinbrenner isn't around to have a say in the matter as ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews pondered:
Not even The Boss would have much of an appetite for eating $114 million of his own money, so the odds are he would accept the fact that he and Alex Rodriguez are forever joined. Then, he would proceed to make A-Rod's life hell with a continuous series of public and private insults. No doubt, he would still have Howie Spira's phone number.
In Steinbrenner's absence, I trust that Yankee fans will pick up the slack.
As for Seattle fans, I'd imagine the "out of sight, out of mind" approach will make the most sense for both A-Rod and Ichiro, as both made their decision to leave quite clear when the time came; besides, the Mariners are "rebuilding."
Do you feel sorry for either A-Rod or Ichiro?
Finally, some might say it's unfair to lump Ichiro together with A-Rod, and to some extent, that's true.
Perhaps staying in Seattle wasn't Ichiro's best option and his move was beneficial to all parties, but now what?
What Ichiro does next will be very telling based on what offers he has available.
He certainly came back to life in New York and it seems he'd like to stay, as the New York Post's Joel Sherman reports: "A person close to Ichiro told me he strongly wants to stay with the Yankees because he so enjoyed playing in a professional, winning atmosphere with so many contemporaries near his age range."
But is this the best move?
Perhaps, but both Ichiro and A-Rod will likely face some tough choices this winter.
For their sake, I hope they choose what's best for them and see if they can rediscover at least some of the magic and joy in playing the game that once upon a time in Seattle made them great.
If not, they may once again learn the ups and downs of being careful of what you wish for...
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