When I say "immediately" in that title I am not exaggerating. If there were ink on Joel Sherman's "Madison Bumgarner is a great pitcher" column, then it would not have been dry by the time he posted an article about the 10 biggest questions of A-Rod's Yankees return. Sherman posted his World Series column on October 30 at 12:40am. At 12:42am on October 30, his article about A Rod's Yankees return was posted. Two minutes. That's how long Joel Sherman focused on the World Series before churning out an obviously already written A-Rod column. This is typical of the New York media. They tend to care less about the sport of baseball and prefer to focus on the drama around the sport of baseball. An article about 10 questions surrounding A-Rod's return can be posted at any point for the next couple of months. There is no expiration date on an article like that for the next couple of months because A-Rod isn't returning until February, but Sherman had to get that article out as soon as possible to focus on what's important. What's important is pageviews. And an article about questions surrounding A-Rod's return brings those pageviews, while an article about the Giants winning the World Series will not, unless there are thousands of New Yorkers who think it is 1946 and the Giants still play in New York.
Let's have Joel get the game summary of an actual MLB game out of the way before he gets to the real topic at hand, which is all the questions surrounding A-Rod's return.
He walked unhurried in from the right-field bullpen. Into Game 7, deeper into baseball history.
Joel Sherman was all like this after he wrote this sentence.
However, think of this like the Beatles giving us “Let It Be” at the
end. They didn’t need to do it; their legacy already was their legacy.
But we are sure glad they did.
Let's scale it back a little bit with the epic-sounding sportswriting. Just a little bit.
Going .gif crazy today, sorry.
Reliever Jeremy Affeldt continued to be the most unsung October stalwart in history.
Uh-oh, it's time to hand out the superlatives! Jeremy Affeldt gets "Most unsung October stalwart in history." Joe Panik gets "Person whose last name does not describe how he behaved in key moments during the World Series" and Madison Bumgarner receives the award for "Pitcher whose name sounds like it should be a character on 'Gossip Girl.'"
Still, Bumgarner towered over this October as if he were Manute Bol and
everyone else was Muggsy Bogues. He was a Giant in all forms of the
And the Royals weren't very Royal in all forms of the word when they had to face Bumgarner. And Buster Posey wasn't having no busters stop him from winning another World Series title. Brandon Belt took a belt to the Royals' chances of winning a World Series. Sergio Romo played like a star unlike that other Romo who wears a star on his helmet, but doesn't deserve to.
Bumgarner, as it has been throughout this stunning month, answered all
questions. He came in with the Giants leading 3-2 to start the bottom of
the fifth. He never left. He insisted pitch count did not enter his
mind — only executing pitches, getting outs.
Very Jack Morris of him. Now sportswriters need to create narratives around Bumgarner's performance that never actually existed and the comparison will be complete.
“He’s our guy,” Giants starter Jake Peavy said. “We live with him and die with him and he took us to the promised land.”
Kansas City. Apparently Kansas City is the promised land.
Of course the final score was 3-2. Because that was the score when Bumgarner took the ball.
Yes, of course...because Bumgarner was pitching to his Giants teammates as well and that's why they couldn't score any more runs once he entered the game?
When Affeldt was asked if he expected Bumgarner — not closer Sergio
Casilla — to pitch the ninth, the lefty said, “If [manager Bruce] Bochy
had told him he was done, you would have had two pitchers on the mound
in the ninth.”
Which I am pretty sure would have increased ratings, so keep that in mind Rob Manfred. Baseball is dying. Would having two pitchers on the mound at the same time increase ratings?
It was about watching artistry and endurance, craft and fortitude.
“There is a lot of makeup there,” pitching coach Dave Righetti said.
Don't give away all of Bumgarner's beauty secrets! At least he doesn't photoshop his appearance.
Bumgarner’s demeanor allows him to execute, to be a master of hitting
corners with multiple pitches at various speeds, to block out even all
that comes with the World Series. A young Clint Eastwood would play him
in the movie.
Unfortunately, an old Jessica Lange would play Buster Posey in the movie. The character of Bruce Bochy would obviously be played by Sam Elliott with a cameo appearance by Amy Adams as a scrappy bartender who catches the eye of Madison Bumgarner and shows up just in time to see him clinch the series. He would propose to her on the pitcher's mound and everyone would live happily ever after...except for Pablo Sandoval, who is inexplicably played by Sarah Jessica Parker.
Only in the end could he admit, “I can’t lie to you anymore, I’m a little tired.”
The character of Amy Adams would then say in a coy fashion while grabbing Bumgarner's arm (Bumgarner's arm would be played by a young John Wayne), "I hope you aren't TOO tired," as they laugh at this brief allusion to sexual relations later in the evening and walk off the field together. The field at Kaufmann Stadium will be played by Tommy Lee Jones' face.
The tying run was just 90 feet away. One last chance — but not. At 2-2,
Bumgarner threw a 93 mph fastball — he still had that in his arm.
So Bumgarner had a 93 mph fastball IN his arm? Maybe he's a robot if he is shooting baseballs out of his arm?
At the end, it looked as if Bumgarner could throw into a Game 8 or 9 or …
Jack Morris would throw into Game 8 or 9. He did it seven times back in the early 1980's during the World Series.
But he already had pitched the Giants to another title, himself into forever.
Enough of this flowery writing, Joel Sherman has to get to the real concern he has. He can't wait more than three minutes to talk about A-Rod's return to the Yankees in five months. Sherman couldn't even wait a day to post this column, he had to do it two minutes after his column about Game 7 of the World Series was posted.
The 2014 season has ended and so the next chapter of Alex Rodriguez’s baseball career has begun.
YOU WAITED TWO WHOLE MINUTES TO POST THIS! Thank God Joel Sherman didn't post this during the World Series and take the focus off the World Series games. That's a totally A-Rod dick move that nobody else (Joe Maddon, ahem) would do.
What does this mean? Here are 10 questions that come along with the most polarizing player in the game:
1. Will Alex talk?
Nope, he'll probably stay silent all season never to speak again.
As much as A-Rod can curry favor with the Yankees and MLB, he did so
this year by mainly — as he promised he would — falling into the
background and not overshadowing Derek Jeter’s farewell season, in
specific, and the season, in general.
As his tour of college and pro football stadiums has shown, though,
Rodriguez does not do undercover particularly well. He hates obscurity
and indifference to his existence. So he is going to try to put his
current status into context at some point.
Yes, how dare Alex Rodriguez appear in public during his year of exile from playing for the Yankees! Doesn't he know that his mere existence in public forces the media to cover his every move and this overshadows a sporting event because the media HAS to overly-focus on A-Rod's presence at a sporting event? They have no choice but to talk about how he is present at a sporting event.
Or does he try to go to a friendly inquisitor such as Mike Francesa? Or
does he decide to seem less over-privileged and less guarded? In that
case, he would probably do something in a group setting.
Great analysis on this super-important issue.
2. When will Alex talk?
February 7th at 2:00pm. Then at 2:02pm A-Rod will want to focus on the upcoming season and Joel Sherman will wonder why A-Rod wants to move on from the topic so quickly.
Is it possible A-Rod could actually act like just about every other
player and be quiet all winter and make it a one-time comment when he
arrives with the rest of the Yankees come February? That might be the
safest route — but that is not a route that A-Rod usually takes.
The New York sports media before A-Rod talks: When will A-Rod talk? He has to talk soon so that he can answer these questions we have for him! He has to explain what he's been doing during the offseason and how he is approaching the upcoming year while discussing his suspension for PED use. If he doesn't do this, he's dodging the issue.
The New York media after A-Rod talks: We just knew that A-Rod couldn't keep his mouth shut. He just HAD to come out and talk about his PED suspension. Look at him trying to overshadow the new college football playoffs by talking about his PED suspension. He just can't keep his mouth shut and has to explain how he is approaching the upcoming year and answer the questions we have for him.
4. What kind of shape is he in?
Since A-Rod has been taking "his tour of college and pro football stadiums" then isn't it easy to see what kind of shape he is in? Take a look at him since he's always looking to get in the public's eye despite his suspension from MLB that apparently also means he isn't supposed to go out in public.
The worries are what kind of work can he do at age 39 and after two
major hip surgeries. And it can’t be ignored — what kind of work can he
do clean? PEDs allow for more frequent workouts done at high intensity
with less need for long recovery times.
I'm sure it's the lack of PED's and not the two major hip surgeries that will determine whether A-Rod is still able to play at a high level or not during the 2015 season.
Of course, that is assuming that he is going to try to play clean.
Ah yes, in October 2014 two minutes after the 2014 World Series has ended Joel Sherman starts the speculation on whether A-Rod is going to be using PED's during the 2015 season. Never change, Joel. Never change. Keep the wild speculation going as long and often as possible.
5. Can A-Rod still hit?
Even if he is crappy (relative to his previous performance) he can still contribute compared to the guys the Yankees put on the field during the 2014 season, especially compared to the shortstop that the Yankees put on the field for the 2014 season.
The Yankees would like to re-sign Headley — clearly the better defender
at the position — to play third base next year with A-Rod morphing into a
third baseman/first baseman/DH.
If A-Rod were Michael Young then he would demand a trade at the prospect of Chase Headley taking over third base duties during the 2015 season and I am sure the New York media would totally support him the way the Texas Rangers media supported Michael Young's trade demands.
Of course, again, the question is whether Rodriguez was even playing clean in 2013.
Of course, that should be a question, but keep bringing up whether A-Rod was playing clean in 2013 or will play clean in 2015. Gotta keep those pageviews churning. Was A-Rod playing clean at the age of 9 when he played coach-pitch? The question still remains.
6. What do injury/age mean?
Here is the definition of "injury."
Here is the definition of "age."
Geez Joel, why are you too lazy to look up your own definitions?
He was troubled in 2013 by high-octane fastballs, and velocity is better now in the sport than ever.
Baseball has changed so much in the year that A-Rod has been gone? WILL HE EVEN UNDERSTAND HOW TO PLAY THE GAME WHEN HE RETURNS? OR WILL HE USED PED'S TO HELP HIM UNDERSTAND HOW TO PLAY THE GAME OF BASEBALL?
7. Does Alex believe in Alex?
Namely does Rodriguez think he can succeed as a clean player? Did the
drugs give A-Rod the psychological edge a player with his level of
self-doubt needs to thrive?
Considering that Joel Sherman is apparently a part-time psychologist/full-time sportswriter, he is clearly one of the few capable of accurately diagnosing A-Rod's level of self-doubt and whether it will allow him to thrive. It's amazing that some psychologists march around the world showing off their fancy degrees, while Joel Sherman doesn't need no degree to be a psychologist.
What happens if he does not believe in himself now? Actually that is a good question
Joel Sherman thinks he asks good questions. Joel Sherman approves of the questions that Joel Sherman thinks of.
8. What if he does not believe in himself now?
Does anything that happens in offseason workouts convince Rodriguez he
cannot come back? For example, if he is working out with the University
of Miami and the ball is not coming off the bat or he cannot move
particularly well would that move him to avoid the embarrassment of
showing that to the world come February/March?
I wonder how many times Joel Sherman can re-phrase the question, "Can A-Rod still play at a high level coming off his injuries and without PED's?" So far we are at six questions that are some derivative of this main question. Can Joel Sherman get two more questions to finish this column off? What if Sherman gets writer's block or can't figure out a way to re-phrase the same question for the seventh time? Would he avoid the embarrassment of showing that he can't come up with 10 questions and only have 8 questions in this column?
Could he think that if he shows he cannot play now, it removes all doubt
that the only way he succeeded in his career was with the aid of drugs?
It is probably much more likely he has an athletic arrogance that he can
succeed even with all in his recent past. Plus, he actually loves to
play and will not give that up without one more full shot at doing so —
See this is where the psychology degree (that Joel Sherman doesn't have and he doesn't need because he can obviously tell what goes on in Alex Rodriguez's head) comes in handy. Of course A-Rod will come back no matter what. He's arrogant, he wants to prove he can play without the use of PED's, he wants to control the narrative...oh, and he actually enjoys playing baseball, but that's just a small part of it all. Mostly it's about proving he can play without using PED's.
10. Can A-Rod be a Yankee ass
Yes, he can be.
Oh, an "asset." Based on last year's Yankees team and how much trouble that team had hitting the baseball, I would say that A-Rod can still be an asset to the Yankees team. Granted, that's a low bar to clear, but if the Yankees can handle an entire season of Derek Jeter's bat in the lineup, I think they could handle A-Rod hitting .260/.324/.410 with 18 home runs and 78 RBI's (I'm making up numbers that are below his career averages, make no mistake about whether I am just naming random numbers that I think could reflect A Rod's 2015 line) in the lineup with improvements made at other parts of the lineup. The question is whether the Yankees are relying on A-Rod to be his old self, in which case they are probably going to be disappointed. He's old, he's come off two hip injuries, and isn't capable of even being the A-Rod from 2010. Some semblance, or slightly less, of 2012 A-Rod is probably what the Yankees will get.
For him to be helpful as a player, he needs to be able to play some
first base and be an option behind the brittle Mark Teixeira. Anyone who
watched how hard Rodriguez worked in spring training 2004 to make the
transition from shortstop to third knows he will put in the time. Those
close to him say he will do whatever work is necessary to try not to
embarrass himself on the field.
But he probably was using PED's, so he only worked hard because he was on PED's. And as Joel Sherman wildly speculates, A-Rod could use PED's during the 2015 season, so that could give him the ability to work hard that he otherwise wouldn't have.
But with Jeter gone, there are less eggshells to walk on gingerly. He
can actually draw attention away from others who do not like the
If you play for the New York Yankees then you probably want to make sure you like the spotlight. That's just a pro tip for future Yankee players.
Also, Rodriguez does love to talk the game with and instruct young
players. He is not a leader in anywhere near the traditional sense. But
he is not afraid to share a baseball-obsessed brain.
Don't say anything nice about him. Go back to passively-aggressively accusing him of possibly using PED's during the 2015 season.
Like with most issues involved with A-Rod now, it really is about
whether he has the skills to be sincere and make the rest of his career —
however long that lasts — about making life better for those around him
rather than continue in the selfish vain that brought him great wealth
and substantial ignominy.
So whether A-Rod will thrive during the 2015 season really depends on how nice he is to people. Makes sense. I can't wait for an offseason of Alex Rodriguez articles coming out of New York. I should probably be proud of Joel Sherman for waiting two minutes after the World Series was over to write this column.