Two weeks ago, a reporter from Newsday called me to get my thoughts and
observations as to what was going on with Alex Rodriguez. Because I have
counseled and coached many athletes I frequently get calls from
the media about sports and about and about athletes..
At that point in time, as baseball fans know, the Yankee’s star third baseman was struggling
at the plate and in the field. He made a several throwing errors and was not
hitting particularly well. The fans were becoming quite critical and somewhat
disenchanted with the performance of the superstar with the super salary.
The reporter asked me if I thought the fans were getting to Alex Rodgriguez
and contributing to his poor performance. He seemed a bit surprised when I answered
“no” to this question.
I explained that I never met Alex Rodriguez, but I believed that his statistics
indicate that he is an exceptional baseball player. I reminded the reporter that
Rodriguez is a future hall of famer with some incredible achievements at this stage
of his career.
Moreover, he is an athlete who has played shortstop for many years and he has transformed
himself into an outstanding third baseman. Also, he seems to be an even tempered
fellow who looks composed and confident most of the time.
I suggested to the writer that the Yankee third baseman would move past these
bumps in the road and go on to have a fine season and an outstanding baseball
Furthermore, athletes like Alex Rodriguez know how to tune out fans, the media,
hitting slumps and errors in the field. You simply don’t get to his level of
excellence if you can not focus on the game and eliminate or at least
manage negative thoughts
Sport psychologists refer to this ability as distraction control. Typically,
superior athletes learn how to control the effects of external events early in their careers..
Some do it naturally, while others need some mental toughness training to develop
the intense focus that is required to perform consistently well at a
highly competitive level.
The reporter asked me why I thought the fans were so hard on Alex Rodriguez.
I reminded him that fans have gotten down on other Yankee greats like Mickey
Mantle and Joe Dimaggio. Periodic criticism is simply part of playing professional
ball in a media hub like New York..
Some fans are probably a bit disappointed as the Yankees have not won
a championship with Rodriguez and he has not been the clutch player many
hoped he would be thus far. They forget that the Yankees would never have
made the post season were it not for Rodriguez’s fine performance last years.
I reminded the reporter that fans was short for fanatics and fanatics tend
to overreact to situations.
I believe that there is nothing wrong with Alex Rodriguez and I think
the fanatics will see many spectacular accomplishments from this player
before his career comes to an end.
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist in River Edge, NJ.