Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez Thinks MLB Needs More Emotion

Alex Rodriguez has been through a lot in this last month. He recently split with Jennifer Lopez, he became co-owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and he just flew cross country to cover the finale of the Padres-Dodgers series last night. Not to mention, the star player on the Timberwolves, Anthony Edwards didn’t even know who the hell A-Rod was when he bought the damn team. To say the least, Rodriguez has been through the wringer lately but his love for the game of baseball has not stymied because of it. In fact, A-Rod is so keen on what makes the game of baseball special that he is not afraid to call out when there are issues with it. When he spoke to USA TODAY Sports, Rodriguez had plenty to say and he didn’t hold back.

The most common criticism of baseball is the pace of play. Yes, it’s slow, and that is the nature of the game. But Rodriguez thinks that it’s a little too slow, and it’s something that we brought on ourselves with how the game is taught.

“I think the way the game is being taught today is conducive to a slow, boring game,’’ Rodriguez said, “You got pitchers taught to throw as hard as you can while compromising movement and location. The art and science of hitting and pitching has gone away. It’s like golf. You drive for show, but putt for dough. But in baseball, if you can’t bunt a ball 40 feet or make contact, how are you helping your team?’’

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers, Blah Blah Blah

Alex Rodriguez also mentioned how there is too much emphasis on the long-ball, which is somewhat surprising coming from a guy who’s currently fourth on the all-time homers list. Nevertheless, he’s completely right. Players essentially refuse to spread the ball around with the potential to hit around .300 and get on base more. Instead, coaches and sabremetrics say that the name of the game is launch angle and home runs. Just ask the Yankees how that’s working out for them this year.

“We’re putting a lot of energy in all of the wrong places,’’ Rodriguez said, “Think about a game when you have starters get into the sixth or seventh inning. Hitters that can hit for average as well as hit for the long ball. We have hitters thinking about North and South. How about East and West, line to line?”

In Rodriguez’s mind, Alex Cora of the Boston Red Sox is one of the managers with a perfect blend of humanity and analytics. There may be a more in-depth explanation, but it seems that the reason the Red Sox are exceeding expectations is because Cora is back after a one year suspension.

“Alex Cora is the perfect blend of a manager,’’ Rodriguez said, “He really understands analytics, the human element and has the confidence and autonomy from the front office to think outside the box.

So…What’s Good About The Game Today?

The Dodgers versus Padres rivalry is one that will help grow the game in coming years. The two NL West teams seem to have some kind of disdain for one another and it showed this weekend in spades. MLB’s poster-boy in Fernando Tatis Jr. had a lot of words exchanged with Dodgers ace Trevor Bauer both on the field and off the field on Twitter. Rodriguez loves this new rivalry, and it’s exactly what he wants to see. He even went so far as to compare the Dodgers and Padres to the Sox-Yanks historic rivalry.

“It’s got some of the same similarities of the Yankees-Red Sox. The Dodgers have been the king of California for a long time, but these guys (the Padres) are hungry. They’re talented. And they’re not afraid.”

Wow. Strong words from a MLB legend, but there is reason to believe that the rivalry is real after watching that dogfight of a series this past weekend. Everyone has more fun playing the game when there is more emotion and intensity, and baseball is sure as hell more fun to watch when that’s the case. There need to be fewer numbers and more bat-flips. Less WAR and more bench-clearing scuffles. Fewer robots and more baseball.

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