Ready for a 3,000 word post to get you revved up for the weekend? Didn’t think so, but you are getting one anyway. So I guess what we are watching here is A-Rod be the baseball player equivalent to what the Baconator is to the food industry. A-Rod has absolutely carried the Yankees this season and as much as I like to make fun of him, you have to tip your cap to him. His 162 game average for his career is just mind boggling. His 162 game average has a .306/.387.577 line with 127 runs, 34 doubles, 44 homers, 127 RBIs, and 22 steals. Below are the most similar batters through age 30 for A-Rod:
1. Ken Griffey (847)
2. Mel Ott (816) *
3. Hank Aaron (789) *
4. Frank Robinson (786) *
5. Mickey Mantle (783) *
6. Jimmie Foxx (754) *
7. Eddie Mathews (752) *
8. Johnny Bench (693) *
9. Vladimir Guerrero (689)
10. Cal Ripken (680) *
Every one is not only a Hall of Famer, but the best of the best and their comps are not even close. Not one guy is even over 850. Why? Because his numbers are probably that much better. Of course we are in different era and in a more offensively charged one, but that should not diminish what he is going to do by the time his career is done. When he is done playing baseball, he is going to be the single best offensive player, and possibly the greatest overall, in the history of baseball.
It is too bad he is caught up in all these money issues marring his image. I guess you have to have a big ego to play big league ball whether or not you are vocal about it or not and there is some sort of satisfaction in regards to being paid the highest salary in pro sports. I am not saying I do not get it, but it does end up creating a bit of distraction for A-Rod, clouds his accomplishments a bit to date, and influences public opinion about him. Right or wrong, that is what it does and that is A-Rod's choice as well. I honestly do think he is getting embraced more by fans these days as evidenced by him leading the All-Star voting.
However, a guy as good as he is should be held in the same regards as Michael Jordan was held in the basketball world during his prime years. Griffey would have, but he got hurt. Bonds would have, but he has a PR issues. A-Rod should be, but he spent a lot of years creating a negative portrayal of himself. It will be interesting to see how he is perceived after he signs his new contract and to see if he can get as much respect from the baseball fans as someone with his numbers would typically garner.
As if that weren't enough...
"To me, go in a straight line to the plate, you get there quicker," Randolph said. "He got lucky there that he got the tag in behind him. ... It was a great call by Sandy."
Wow...I guess Willie paid attention in geometry.
We discussed the ridiculousness of the first statement earlier today, but the second one might be worse. Willie is strangely suggesting that no player should try and avoid the catch with a hook slide or some other fancy sliding techniques. He apparently leans towards collisions and injuries. One thing is clear about Willie, he has his own way and likes to make sure everyone knows it. I sometimes think it is more about doing things his way rather than winning. He is almost trying to insert his dominance and make statements with what he does and in a way, he comes off childish to me and especially in the above statements. He sounds like a little kid who does not want to admit he is wrong about something. If he truly works in Newhan and Easley with Milledge as he said he would, he just proves to everyone he has some sort of issues with Milledge and that is no way to run a team.
However, if we insist that hitting coaches can't be held responsible for the failures of their charges, aren't we saying that teams don't actually need hitting coaches at all? If we excuse them by saying they weren't responsible for actual play on the field, we're also saying that coaches have absolutely no impact on the team's performance. If we don't blame them for individual players' failures, we shouldn't give them credit for individual players' successes, either.
I think we can all agree they can help out a young player more than veterans and can help older players as well. To what degree? We can argue about that all day, but whether or not they do much, it behooves a team to have a good one. But if they truly do nothing, what's the use of having them? Also, if you have a hitting coach and the team is not hitting or taking pitches or they are just not having good at-bats for an extended period of time, do you assume the hitting coach is trying to do all he can do and it truly is a talent issue or do you try something else?
Do not feel bad for Rick. Hitting coaches get fired all the time whether it be right or wrong. You have to blame someone, right? Unfortunately Rick is the hitting coach while the players are slumping and the Mets thought Rickey is more of a value add than Rick was. HoJo slides into the arguably useless role of hitting coach/sunflower seed eater and Rickey helps Milledge and Gomez's approach to the game. For me, this is an upgrade even if Rick did nothing wrong to get fired.
"(Rickey) has a knowledge about the game in so many ways," said Mets general manager Omar Minaya. "I think, whether it's base-running, or fielding, as an outfield coach, or offensively, as a hitter, Rickey can help out. It's not that one guy is going to make that big of a difference."
It would seem the Mets are better off than they were last week and that is all that we can really ask for.
Wright throws his support behind HoJo.
"We definitely didn't do what we wanted offensively, but it wasn't anything to do with Rick Down," Wright said. "But that being said, HoJo will step in well. He has groomed me into the hitter I am for the last few years. From what I know, what I'm hoping is the HoJo's going to be the hitting guy. He has a good relationship with a lot of the guys here. I love the guy, he's done tremendous things for me."
So anyway, here you go. The definitive Rickey Henderson.
1) In June 1999, when Henderson was playing with the Mets, he saw reporters running around the clubhouse before a game. He asked a teammate what was going on and he was told that Tom Robson, the team’s hitting coach, had just been fired. Henderson said, “Who’s he?”
2) Rickey... on referring to himself in the third person:
“Listen, people are always saying, ‘Rickey says Rickey.’ But it’s been blown way out of proportion. People might catch me, when they know I’m ticked off, saying, ‘Rickey, what the heck are you doing, Rickey?’ They say, ‘Darn, Rickey, what are you saying Rickey for? Why don’t you just say, ‘I?’ But I never did. I always said, ‘Rickey,’ and it became something for people to joke about.”
3) In the early 1980s, the Oakland A’s accounting department was freaking out. The books were off $1 million. After an investigation, it was determined Rickey was the reason why. The GM asked him about a $1 million bonus he had received and Rickey said instead of cashing it, he framed it and hung it on a wall at his house.
4) In 1996, Henderson’s first season with San Diego, he boarded the team bus and was looking for a seat. Steve Finley said, “You have tenure, sit wherever you want.” Henderson looked at Finley and said, “Ten years? Ricky’s been playing at least 16, 17 years.”
5) This one might be my second favorite. This wasn’t too long ago, I think it was the year he ended up playing with the Red Sox. Anyway, he called San Diego GM Kevin Towers and left the following message: “This is Rickey calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball.”
6) This one happened in Seattle. Rickey struck out and as the next batter was walking past him, he heard Henderson say, “Don’t worry, Rickey, you’re still the best.”
7) Rickey once asked a teammate how long it would take him to drive to the Dominican Republic.
8) Moments after breaking Lou Brock’s stolen base record, Henderson told the crowd – with Brock mere feet next to him – “Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today, I am the greatest of all-time.”
9) Henderson once fell asleep on an ice pack and got frostbite – which forced him to miss three games — in mid-August.
10) A reporter asked Henderson if Ken Caminiti’s estimate that 50 percent of Major League players were taking steroids was accurate. His response was, “Well, Rickey’s not one of them, so that’s 49 percent right there.”
11) Henderson broke Ty Cobb’s career record for runs scored with a home run. After taking his usual 45 seconds or so around the bases, Rickey slid into home plate.
12) On being Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th career strikeout: “It gave me no chance. He (Ryan) just blew it by me. But it’s an honor. I’ll have another paragraph in all the baseball books. I’m already in the books three or four times.”
13) San Diego GM Kevin Towers was trying to contact Rickey at a nearby hotel. He knew Henderson always used fake names to avoid the press, fans, etc. He was trying to think like Rickey and after several attempts; he was able to get Henderson on the phone.
Rickey had checked in under Richard Pryor.
14) I didn’t believe this one at first. However, I emailed a few contacts within the Sox organization and they claim it actually happened. This is priceless, it really is.
The morning after the Sox finished off their 2004 World Series sweep against St. Louis, Henderson called someone in the organization looking for tickets to Game 6 at Fenway Park.
15) The Mets were staying in a hotel less than a mile from Cinergy Field in Cincinnati. While some players walked, most took the team bus. A few minutes after they arrived — again it was less than a mile – the last players off the bus noticed a stretched limo that had just pulled up.
Of course, Rickey emerged from the back seat.
16) A reporter once asked Rickey if he talked to himself, “Do I talk to myself? No, I just remind myself of what I’m trying to do. You know, I never answer myself so how can I be talking to myself?”
17) OK, I know everyone has been waiting for it. Alas, according to both parties involved, it’s not true. I wish it were. Heck, both Rickey Henderson and John Olerud have said they wish it were true. But it just didn’t happen.
The story went that a few weeks into Henderson’s stint with the Mariners, he walked up to Olerud at the batting cage and asked him why he wore a batting helmet in the field. Olerud explained that he had an aneurysm at nine years old and he wore the helmet for protection. Legend goes that Henderson said, “Yeah, I used to play with a guy that had the same thing.” Legend also goes that Olerud said, “That was me, Rickey.”
Henderson played with Olerud on the Blue Jays and the Mets.
18) Rickey was asked if he had the Garth Brooks album with Friends in Low Places and Henderson said, “Rickey doesn’t have albums. Rickey has CDs.”
19) During a contract holdout with Oakland in the early 1990s, Henderson said, “If they want to pay me like Mike Gallego, I’ll play like Gallego.”
20) In the late 1980s, the Yankees sent Henderson a six-figure bonus check. After a few months passed, an internal audit revealed the check had not been cashed. Current Yankees GM Brian Cashman – then a low-level nobody with the organization – called Rickey and asked if there was a problem with the check. Henderson said, “I’m just waiting for the money market rates to go up.”
21) This is my all-time favorite. Rickey was pulled over by a San Diego police officer for speeding. As the officer was approaching Rickey’s car, the window went down a few inches and a folded $100 bill emerged. The officer let Rickey and his money head home without a ticket.
22) When he was on the Yankees in the mid-1980s, Henderson told teammates that his condo had such a great view that he could see, “The Entire State Building.”
23) During one of his stays with Oakland, Henderson’s locker was next to Billy Beane’s. After making the team out of spring training, Beane was sent to the minors after a few months. Upon his return, about six weeks later, Henderson looked at Beane and said, “Hey, man, where have you been? Haven’t seen you in awhile.”
24) To this day and dating back 25 years, before every game he plays, Henderson stands completely naked in front of a full length locker room mirror and says, “Ricky’s the best,” for several minutes.
25) In the last week of his lone season with the Red Sox, Chairman Tom Werner asked Henderson what he would like for his ‘going-away’ gift. Henderson said he wasn’t going anywhere, but he would like owner John Henry’s Mercedes. Werner said it would be tough to get the same make and model in less than a week and Henderson said, “No, I want his car.” Turns out the Sox got Henderson a Red Thunderbird and when he saw it on the field before the last game of the season, Rickey said, “Whose ugly car is on the field?”
All joking aside, his old Newark Bear teammates gave him a rousing vote of confidence.
Lastings Milledge and a rehabbing Pedro Martinez may provide some help down the stretch, but this team will need Omar Minaya to summon further reinforcements if the Mets are to prevail.
And they throw the Yankees under the bus, which is always nice.
Don't kid yourselves, Yankee fans--despite the high ranking and the upcoming soft schedule, it's all over but the shouting and pouting, not to mention the laying of bets on whether Joe Torre, Brian Cashman, or Alex Rodriguez will be around for the next step. The team's worst first half of the three-division era has left the Yanks needing to play .684 ball the rest of the way to reach the 95-win level of the last two AL Wild Card winners, not to mention a .737 clip to match Boston's 99-win pace.