Posted: Tuesday September 19, 2006 11:47AM; Updated: Tuesday September 19, 2006 1:01PM
His hitting failures may have captured the media's attention, but Alex Rodriguez has been more concerned about his defense this season.
On his reliance on a sports psychologist: "I don't."
You don't talk about it or you don't talk to him? "Both."
But what about the story, which you told yourself in the introduction to his 2006 book, that he leaves a daily inspirational message for you? "That's such old news. That's like 11 years old. People don't do their homework. People take things from the newspaper from nine years ago and write it again."
On his 2-for-15 performance in a Division Series loss to the Angels last year: "We had three games [and] I walked nine times, or whatever the hell I walked. And in a matter of two or three games, you're judged. It's not tennis or golf. It's a team game."
On the constant criticism: "The thing about why people shoot at me from different directions, it always starts and ends with the contract. Because the bottom line is if I was making 10 or 12 [million dollars a year], it wouldn't be such a hot topic."
On Yankees fans booing him: "If you absolutely stink and they never boo you, to me that just means they don't expect anything from you. They're smart fans. They're passionate fans. The same people that booed me gave me a curtain call, so I don't go home and do jumping jacks [after a curtain call], just like when they boo me I'm not going to go home and kill myself."
On how criticism builds against him: "It's all about the way things start. You have one guy who people follow. That goes for media. That goes for fans. If one guy can do it, then everybody gets brave and can do it. If someone says this guy is getting old, he can't hit home runs anymore, well, 50 other guys are going to at least write about it. And that's kind of what I see."
On the roughest part of his summer: "Defense. I can hit. I'm always going to hit. I have a shooter's mentality. I can miss 10 in a row, but when I take that 11th, I think I'm going to make it. [On defense] I was just trying to find my rhythm. It's such a physical thing, but it's also mental, too, because the rhythm is almost like dancing to music. And if you're off that rhythm, you're not as sufficient."
Explaining why he said he is "shy" when he plays the game: "I don't like showing people up. I run. The whole curtain call makes me uncomfortable. I'm as low-key as someone can be."
On finding a closer "connection" with God this year: "This year I found a balance in my life that I haven't had before. Because my seasons have always been so easy, this year hasn't been easy.... I feel God has a plan for me, and this is part of the plan. If He wants to say, 'This is the bottom of the pail,' then I'll take it. I'll take my .285 with whatever [home runs] and whatever [RBI] and a world championship."
On needing a championship to validate his career: "[John] Elway is the best [comparison]. Elway was made fun of, for the most part. Lost four times in a row. It took Michael [Jordan] eight or nine years to win his first. The thing is, it's not that easy to win. It takes a lot. It takes great pitching. It takes a great bullpen. It takes great defense. Timely hitting. Some luck. All that [stuff] has to come into play."
On how the regular season becomes meaningless in the postseason: "I'm excited about the opportunity. Last year was the perfect example of that. I was MVP for six months and it all came down to what I did the last three games. I get to use it on my side this time."