Alex Rodriguez on Mariano Rivera, after calling him not just one of the best pitchers ever, but one of the best athletes of all time in any sport:
. . . the biggest compliment or the biggest way I can share with all our fans and specially Mariano Rivera fans is that when the moment gets really, really, really tough, and New Yorkers can appreciate this about Mariano, the best Mariano Rivera always stands out. And he’s my hero and a role model and a dear friend.
On the one hand: I think we’ve stumbled upon a legitimately, observable and unequivocal flaw with Alex Rodriguez apart from PED stuff: his being unable to actually follow the example of his role models. Unless there’s a lot we don’t know about Mariano Rivera’s example, anyway.
On the other, more serious hand: I think it’s notable that Rodriguez, for all of his faults, has rarely if ever that I can remember said a bad thing about his teammates. Maybe I’m just blanking on something, but for all of his controversies, he hasn’t been involved in specifically clubhouse controversies. They are PR things and PED things and clashes with the front office, but I cant’ recall him slagging on teammates or managers.
Anyway: waiting for someone to go after A-Rod for “using the good name of Mariano Rivera” to cynically improve his own personal brand and PR profile or something. You know it’s coming.
The Athletics have hired former MLB manager Matt Williams, the team announced Friday. Williams will take over third base coaching duties under manager Bob Melvin, filling the vacancy left by Nationals’ bench coach Chip Hale after the 2017 season.
Williams is no stranger to the Bay Area, but this will be his first time sporting the green and gold. He got his start in pro ball with the rival Giants in 1987, where he manned third base and collected four All-Star nominations before jumping ship to the American League in 1997. After a one-year stint in the Indians’ organization, he returned to the NL to finish off his 17-season career and eventually hung up his cleats with the Diamondbacks in 2003.
Post-retirement, Williams has crafted a resume that almost over-qualifies him for a coaching gig. He led the Nationals to a cumulative 179-145 record from 2014 to 2015 and earned props as NL Manager of the Year after bringing the team to a first-place finish in 2014. In 2016, he split the season as a first and third base coach in the D-backs’ organization, then accepted a studio analyst position with the Giants for the 2017 season. Although he has yet to suit up for the Athletics in any role, he’s not unfamiliar with skipper Bob Melvin. The two were teammates on the Giants’ 1987-88 roster and spent some time in Arizona together when Melvin took a coaching job there in the early 2000s.
While next year’s reunion will be fun to watch (unless, I suppose, you’re a Giants fan with a long memory), Williams may not have his sights set on a coaching role forever. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea reported back in July, the 51-year-old knows what it feels like to win as a manager, and it’s a position he might be open to pursuing in the future.
“For me, my most comfortable space is in uniform,” he told Shea. “I’ve done the ownership thing and front-office stuff, and that’s fun. The most gratification I get is swinging a fungo and throwing batting practice and being on the field. It’s what you know and love. I look at myself as a teacher first and foremost. At the end of the day, I think that’s how I have my greatest influence.”