From Tim Brown
On the morning of the first game they’d play since Game 5, the night the New York Yankees all went home for the winter, Alex Rodriguez stood before them and, according to witnesses, gave the sort of speech that wouldn’t have been possible five years ago.
Somebody else would have told the Yankees it was time to commit in body and soul to the next eight months.
Somebody with credibility would have reminded them who they are. Somebody with clubhouse authority would have challenged them. Somebody who’d endured the terrible stuff, and drank the sweet stuff, and tested out as an honest-to-goodness Yankee. That guy.
For long enough, that wasn’t A-Rod, not in their eyes and not in his own heart.
But on Friday morning, hours before they’d open their spring schedule against the University of South Florida and start all over again, sources said Rodriguez commanded the room for more than 10 minutes like he never had before.
“It was great,” said one witness. “I’d never seen that out of him before. I didn’t know he had it in him.”
Rodriguez wouldn’t talk about his speech, or confirm he even gave one.
According to those in the clubhouse, however, Rodriguez talked about being “all in.” He advised them that, on that subject, there was only black or white, “no gray.” He said each of them – from the biggest superstar to the last guy on the 40-man – knew what “all in” meant. They’d had to have been “all in” just to sit in that room, to make it this far. And that every man knew exactly what his “all in” amounted to, in work ethic and dedication and sacrifice. He asked them to find that within them, to bring it every day, all season long, for the good of the Yankees. For the good of themselves.
“Amazing,” a witness said. “The guys were drawn to him.”
Somebody had to say it.
And, on a Friday leading to his 19th big-league season, Alex Rodriguez became that somebody.
I have to say that I'm impressed that A-Rod has built up enough locker room cred and confidence to pull something like this. Brown is right, this wouldn't have been possible a few years ago. By all accounts he did exactly what a leader is supposed to in one of these types of speeches: let everyone on the team know what the mission is, how to accomplish that, and get everyone on the same page. The all in mentality is a good way of doing that.
"All in" was the battle cry for the NY Football Giants this year and we all saw how they not only bought into the idea, but then took that all for one, one for all attitude and ran through the NFL's best on their way to a 4th Super Bowl.
Something that was lost when Jorge Posada retired was that vocal leader in the clubhouse (according to everything I've read Jeter is a much more quiet leader) and maybe A-Rod is looking to fill that void. And that, to me, is a very good thing. Especially if the team is open to him doing such a thing, which seems to be the case.
Good job, Alex. Now just stay healthy.