There’s an interesting interview of Alex Rodriguez in the New York Times today. It covers his maturity, or the self-admitted lack thereof, before his drug suspension, his new outlook on life and his own foibles since and touches on his business career as well.
The thing you really want to take away is that, contrary to popular belief based on an in-depth interview Rodriguez gave during the peak of his playing career, he did not have a painting of himself as a centaur in his bedroom. He insists that was not true. He says now “I wish it was true because it’s such a cool story.” Which leads to what, for me, is the most interesting part of the interview: when he talks about how he became such a mockable figure between the time he signed his first big contract and the time he was suspended.
The facts aren’t as interesting to me as A-Rod’s apparent comfort and honesty in talking about it. He admits he was immature and did not know how to handle his fame and his expectations, both self-imposed and imposed on him by others. He talks about how he shot himself in the foot (“I wish it was in the foot, actually”) over and over again. It’s stuff we all saw and mostly knew as it was happening. It was stuff we wondered how he couldn’t see. It’s interesting that he can see it now.
Why does he see it now? Everyone likes to talk about the complete 180 A-Rod has done in terms of popularity and likability in the past few years and most people chalk it up to him figuring out how to be better at public relations. I don’t think that’s it, though. He talks about how he has gone to therapy to figure his stuff out and that the suspension and all that surrounded it was the trigger. As someone who has himself been to therapy it, combined with how he talks about himself, rings pretty true to me. If all of it had been some P.R. act he’d not be able to talk about it like this for the past five years. It strikes me as genuine.
Not that the P.R. part of his brain has been turned off. He is asked a couple of times about the specifics of his PED use, to which he has admitted generally but not in any sort of great detail. He is polite in declining to give details of that and says he will do so at a time in the future, possibly “on camera.” I suspect that he plans to write a book or to roll out an A-Rod marketing campaign of sorts, perhaps timed to take advantage of — and to aid — his appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. Can’t say that’s a terrible idea, frankly.