The Washington Post

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees are on the brink despite Kobe Bryant’s pep talk

The dugout can be a lonely place. (Paul Sancya / AP)

The New York Yankees are one loss away from being swept out of the American League Championship Series, and their highest-paid player is watching it all unfold from the dugout.

Alex Rodriguez is hitting .130 in the postseason, a level of ineptitude at the plate that landed him on the bench for Detroit’s 2-1 victory in Game 3. Whether Yankees manager Joe Girardi will play him or sit him again in a do-or-die Game 4 remains to be seen, but at the moment, Rodriguez’s future in the Bronx appears as dim as his team’s chances of digging out of an 0-3 hole.

The pundits continue to bash Rodriguez for his inability to deliver in the playoffs, and the boo birds continue to hound the highest-paid player in the game. But another superstar is trying to remind A-Rod that he’s still one of the best in baseball, and in some ways, Kobe Bryant can relate.

Kobe Bryant: five-time NBA champion, therapist for hire. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

“I just say to him, ‘You’re Alex Rodriguez. You’re A-Rod. You’re one of the best to ever do it,” Bryant said Tuesday after an exhibition loss to Utah (via ESPN Los Angeles). “I think sometimes he kind of forgets that and wants to try to do the right thing all the time. Which is the right team attitude to have. But other times you really have to put your head down and say, ‘Hell with it’ and just do your thing.

“Hopefully the next game they’ll kind of give him a chance, maybe put him back at third and let him respond to the pressure, which I think he’ll do.”

Easy for Kobe to say, but basketball is a team sport in which a single player can dominate the ball and take over a game on his own. As one one of nine hitters in a lineup or one of nine players in the field, it can be a little more difficult to “just do your thing” on the diamond.

That said, Bryant has faced adversity and backlash from fans and the media for both his play and past issues off the field. But on the court, his confidence rarely wavers, which cannot be said about his friend in pinstripes.

“We’re different,” Bryant said. “But you’re talking about, ‘He’s one of the best to ever play.’ I think really the difference is, sometimes he forgets he’s the best. … Where, I don’t.”

Bryant also still is one of the best in his sport. From everything he’s displayed this season, Rodriguez clearly is not.

At this point, what should the Yankees do with A-Rod? Or perhaps more importantly, what can they do with a player who still has four years remaining on a 10-year, $275 million contract?

Donald Trump told ESPN New York he’d need only two words to rectify the situation: “You’re fired.”

Follow us: @MattBrooksWP | @CindyBoren


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Matt Brooks is the high school sports editor for The Washington Post. He's an Arlington native and longtime District resident and was previously a high school sports reporter, editor for several blogs and Early Lead contributor with The Post.



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Cindy Boren · October 17, 2012