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Monday, April 27, 2020

Alex Rodriguez Weighs In On Michael Jordan’s Baseball Career

It feels like the entire sports world is watching “The Last Dance,” and the numbers don’t lie. Last Sunday’s docuseries on Michael Jordan and the six-time champion Chicago Bulls became the most-watched ESPN documentary ever, averaging just over 6 million viewers.

The documentary caught the eye of Alex Rodriguez, though he has been watching Jordan closely for the past 30 years.

As a child, Rodriguez was in awe of Jordan. He watched from home in Miami as Jordan dominated, capturing his imagination with each dunk. He found himself living vicariously through His Airness in defeats to the Detroit Pistons and celebrations as the Bulls took their place as NBA champions.

The Sunday Night Baseball analyst is now able to relate to Jordan in a way few others can. Both were constantly in the spotlight during their playing days in and out of games, as well as met with unrelenting criticism until a championship trophy was hoisted. During the course of Rodriguez’s career, he formed a friendship with Jordan, witnessing his legendary competitive streak up close and in person.

I get Miami residents not rooting for their baseball team- but the Heat have won more NBA championships than the Knicks!

 

QLE Posted: April 27, 2020 at 12:22 AM | 44 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: alex rodriguez, espn, michael jordan

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   1. John Northey Posted: April 27, 2020 at 02:13 AM (#5944807)
With 2 titles, the Knicks barely beat the Raptors for total titles.
   2. John M. Perkins Posted: April 27, 2020 at 09:57 AM (#5944876)
Charles Poe > Michael Jordan
   3. The Duke Posted: April 27, 2020 at 10:34 AM (#5944895)
Actually pretty amazing to put your baseball skills in the closet for 12 years and come back and make a credible showing in AA. I wish he had stuck it out another year - a lot of people said he had turned a corner and might have had a brief MLB career as a backup OF.
   4. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 27, 2020 at 10:42 AM (#5944903)

It's an interesting perspective. I don't really think about Jordan having the "monkey on his back" because I was only 11 when the Bulls won their first championship. He was pretty much always a winner in my basketball fandom memory.

(Jordan also won his first championship when he was 27, whereas A-Rod won his first (and only) at age 33. He also won it with his original team, as opposed to A-Rod who had to get traded to the "evil empire" to win one.)

I get Miami residents not rooting for their baseball team- but the Heat have won more NBA championships than the Knicks!

Sorry, what is this in reference to?
   5. Scott Lange Posted: April 27, 2020 at 10:50 AM (#5944909)
His slash line was .202/.289/.266. His OPS was .556, dead last on the team. I suppose it's subjective, but that doesn't scream "credible" to me.
   6. PreservedFish Posted: April 27, 2020 at 11:19 AM (#5944921)
I think that what he did was very impressive.
   7. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 27, 2020 at 11:23 AM (#5944924)

I think both #5 and #6 can be true.
   8. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: April 27, 2020 at 11:25 AM (#5944925)
It can be (and is) both very impressive and not a credible showing at AA. His stats were putrid and also amazing for a guy who is post-30 and hasn't played baseball in more than a decade.

Edit: ...and coke.
   9. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: April 27, 2020 at 11:41 AM (#5944931)
His slash line was .202/.289/.266. His OPS was .556, dead last on the team. I suppose it's subjective, but that doesn't scream "credible" to me.

He also had a babip of .264. He was unlucky!

More seriously, a 10% walk rate is awfully impressive for someone who hadn't played professionally and hadn't swung a bat in how many years. The 23% K rate was certainly a problem. Though I would have thought it'd be worse for someone that tall and inexperienced.

I would have liked to have seen him try it for another year, but I'm more glad that he went back to basketball.
   10. PreservedFish Posted: April 27, 2020 at 12:05 PM (#5944947)
I love that he attempted 48 steals. YOLO!
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: April 27, 2020 at 12:40 PM (#5944967)
I get Miami residents not rooting for their baseball team- but the Heat have won more NBA championships than the Knicks!


He was already 13 when the Heat were born. If he thrilled at MJ's 63 and suffer when the Pistons defeated the Bulls, then his basketball fandom was set before the Heat played their first game.
   12. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: April 27, 2020 at 02:31 PM (#5945037)
I love that he attempted 48 steals. YOLO!


I saw him steal a base live! Went to Birmingham while at Auburn to specifically see him play. I think he got on base with a hit too!
   13. Adam Starblind Posted: April 27, 2020 at 02:38 PM (#5945043)
Maybe they could get together for a game of HORSE.
   14. dlf Posted: April 27, 2020 at 04:45 PM (#5945134)
Went to Birmingham while at Auburn to specifically see him play. I think he got on base with a hit too!


Other than changing the sixth word in the first sentence to reflect the better school in the State, that would be me too. I went to the old Hoover Met quite a few times during MJ's vacation. I did see him get a couple of hits, but mostly I saw a very long, very loopy swing that was all hands and arms with no drive from his legs or torque from his torso. He also took a long time to figure out where a fly ball was heading so his D was rather suspect. While being able to bat .200 is about .199999 better than virtually everyone could do in similar circumstances, had he stuck it out longer, he would have only been promoted for marketing purposes and not because his play deserved it.


   15. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: April 27, 2020 at 05:24 PM (#5945157)
After hitting .252 in the AzFL, the Sox were apparently going to promote Jordan to AAA Nashville in '95, but...

I can't imagine Jordan would've played too well in Nashville, strike or no strike. Tebow was an AA All-Star, and he flopped in AAA.
   16. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: April 27, 2020 at 07:03 PM (#5945223)
There was an Athletic article a couple months ago detailing the end of Jordan's baseball career--the strike had a lot to do with it. After most of the minor leaguers refused to be scabs in the spring of '95, Reinsdorf told the White Sox minor leaguers they would be given no choice--they would report to major league spring training camp or be suspended without pay. After initially assuring Jordan's agent that Jordan would not be included in that, Reinsdorf reneged, Jordan of course blew his stack, left camp never to return, and announced his basketball comeback a few days later. (How that was supposed to injure Reinsdorf, who of course also owned the Bulls, don't ask me.)

The basketball comeback was going to happen anyway. But all of that may well have made it happen in the spring, rather than the fall, of 1995. Without it, Jordan may have played in '95 with a goal of at least getting a major league cup of coffee in September before returning to basketball.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: April 27, 2020 at 07:18 PM (#5945227)
I'm enjoying "The Last Dance" but I'm sure they'll visit this little sojourn and I suspect they'll dig up some hagiographic praise for his baseball skills. (And yes, he had heaps more skill than 99% of us but he was a long way from the majors.)

I agree that Jordan didn't have a monkey on his back. The Bulls as a franchise had a monkey on their back and it wasn't clear that Jordan wasn't gonna be the Banks of basketball (you kids can sub Trout there). That plus, as an anxious Bulls fan, it was far from clear they'd ever get past that Pistons' road block. But I don't recall there every being any serious suggestion that Jordan was letting anybody down or coming up short.

More on the doco -- while obviously everybody looks awesome in highlights, the Pippen-centered episode did remind how good he really was.
   18. Bad Fish Posted: April 27, 2020 at 08:50 PM (#5945245)
For basketball, I have followed players more so than teams, and I have only really seriously followed basketball for a short period of time. During that era, Dennis Rodman was my favorite player and at that time I paid more attention to basketball than any time before and since. I actually climbed a telephone pole to activate my pending Comcast order so I could watch a Bulls playoff game. A cop drove by while I was engaged in this reprobate behavior and asked what I was up to...the playoffs were deemed an adequate reason.

Those Bulls teams were great. The 95-96 team was probably the best team ever, and I don't mean comparatively I mean absolutely. They completely dismantled teams, they had a bunch of weapons and everyone knew their role. The 96-97 team wasn't far behind. They still had gas in the tank after 97-98, with a little tweaking they might have had the legs for another run. They won 13 games the next season. Krause was an idiot.
   19. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: April 28, 2020 at 12:18 AM (#5945286)
There was an Athletic article a couple months ago detailing the end of Jordan's baseball career--the strike had a lot to do with it.

The not-a-suspension NBA suspension being over after a year probably had more to do with it.
   20. John DiFool2 Posted: April 28, 2020 at 10:53 AM (#5945393)
I wonder how MJ would have done-as an NFL tight end, say? Or would the ultraviolence have dissuaded him in any event?
   21. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: April 28, 2020 at 12:51 PM (#5945447)
He would have gotten broken in half by NFL front-seven defenders within the first hour of the first practice.

And he wouldn't have been anywhere near fast enough to play wide receiver.
   22. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 28, 2020 at 02:47 PM (#5945497)

Is it really true that Jordan didn't have the speed to play WR in the NFL (the 80s NFL, not today's NFL)?

Not doubting you, I just wouldn't have guessed that given how athletic he was.
   23. Ron J Posted: April 28, 2020 at 04:04 PM (#5945547)
#22 Big guys who can jump can create matchup problems for the defense. Pretty sure he was faster than Harold Carmichael and while Carmichael had a couple of inches on Jordan, Jordan's jump would make up for it.

Of course there's more to Carmichael than just being tall. He ran good routes and had good hands. But some guys just couldn't cover him and that creates issues.

I don't insist Jordan would have been good in the NFL. But he had athletic gifts a smart coordinator could make use of and a great work ethic.
   24. Kurt Posted: April 28, 2020 at 05:25 PM (#5945593)
Is it really true that Jordan didn't have the speed to play WR in the NFL (the 80s NFL, not today's NFL)?


He probably didn't if the question is whether he had the speed to play WR in the NFL while walking into camp in 1993 after retiring from the Bulls, with no football experience. He didn't have Willie Gault or Renaldo Nehemiah speed.

"Could he have been an NFL WR if he had grown up playing football in peewee, high school and college" is a very different question.
   25. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: April 29, 2020 at 07:38 PM (#5945990)
"Could he have been an NFL WR if he had grown up playing football in peewee, high school and college" is a very different question.


Randy Moss is a decent comp. Moss was faster, but he was also a bit shorter and even skinnier, both could jump out of the building. Also a good basketball player, played with White Chocolate Jason Williams in high school in West Virginia.
   26. Walt Davis Posted: April 30, 2020 at 01:17 AM (#5946054)
Not that the sample is very big but it seems football is the easiest sport to transition out of. Brian Jordan was very good, Bo obviously had the talent, Deion wasn't great but certainly was ML quality. (Or maybe, weiredly, baseball is the easiest sport to transition into.) Meanwhile Ainge had no business being in the majors and Jordan of course not close. I'm sure we discussed this just a few weeks ago but who was the last guy to hold his own in MLB and NBA? (Lofton held his onw in college, I'm sure there are more recent ones of those.)

Has anybody ever pulled off an NHL double? I assume it's been ages since a NBA-NFL double.

While they're upgrading some things, I think it would be cool if somebody at b-r went through all the multi-sport guys and provided links to the other pages -- i.e. Ainge's b-r page should have links to his NBA and college pages on the bball sites and vice versa.
   27. McCoy Posted: April 30, 2020 at 08:31 AM (#5946071)
In The Last Dance they have Terry Francona saying that if Jordan had gotten 1500 AB he'd be a major leaguer. They also skirt around the strikev and the drama around it. They just day there's a strike, Jordan wouldn't cross the picket line, and that he walked out. End of story.
   28. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 30, 2020 at 10:42 AM (#5946116)
I'm sure we discussed this just a few weeks ago but who was the last guy to hold his own in MLB and NBA? (Lofton held his onw in college, I'm sure there are more recent ones of those.)

Ryan Minor was no Kenny Lofton in baseball but he was way better at basketball. He was the 32nd overall pick of the 1996 NBA Draft, after being was the big star of an Oklahoma team that was a #4 seed (and got upset by Manhattan College in the first round) and then was a #10 seed (and got beat by Temple in the first round). I think he could have had an NBA career at least as good as his (very bad) MLB career if he went that route.
   29. McCoy Posted: April 30, 2020 at 10:58 AM (#5946125)
Mark Hendrickson
   30. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 30, 2020 at 11:02 AM (#5946126)
Has anybody ever pulled off an NHL double? I assume it's been ages since a NBA-NFL double.

Jim Riley is the only player to have played in major league baseball and major league hockey. Not technically the NHL, but before 1927 there were more than one major hockey league - teams from the WCHA and PCHL won the Stanley Cup (including Riley's team in 1917). In baseball he played a few games for the Browns and Senators.

Aside from him the most accomplished hockey player among MLB players might be Nyjer Morgan, of all people. He worked his way up to playing for Regina in the Western Hockey League (one of the three Major Junior leagues) before deciding to switch to baseball at age 20. There are other recent base-ballers who were star high school hockey players that I'm aware of (Tom Glavine, Justin Morneau) but I don't know of any who tried playing professionally.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s a lot of well-known hockey players also played baseball in the "pirate" Quebec Provincial Leaue in their offseason. Including Rocket Richard! Here's Bob Dill who took the affiliated route and made it to AAA in addition to his hockey career. According to Wikipedia the New York Rangers would not have let him play in the majors.
   31. Rally Posted: April 30, 2020 at 11:32 AM (#5946145)
Jordan would have been a good WR if he wanted to be. I think one of the differences that separates the truly great athletes from those with great athletic talent is a kind of athletic genius. This is the ability to pick up what's happening on the court/field, process this, adjust, and react faster than all the others on the court. Jordan had it, it would have served him well in any sport. Even baseball, if he had started early and put more time into it.

Don't think he would have worked as a TE, he has the height but not the build for it. Barkley and Malone would have worked.
   32. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 30, 2020 at 11:34 AM (#5946148)
Jordan would have been a good WR if he wanted to be.
So would Ichiro.

Actually, that’s probably true.
   33. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 30, 2020 at 11:55 AM (#5946161)
After his pretty strong NFL rookie season, I doubt we'll ever see what Kyler Murray could have done on a professional baseball diamond. But it would be pretty interesting.

I assume it's been ages since a NBA-NFL double.

He never played in the NFL, but former Knicks point guard Charlie Ward won the Heisman Trophy as a QB for Florida State in the 90s. He had stated that he would only play in the NFL if he was drafted in the first round, which didn't happen, so he ended up not being drafted at all. I don't follow football closely enough to know whether Ward might have been a first rounder today -- he was bigger than Murray, and the rules protect QBs better today than they did 25 years ago. In any event, he clearly could have made the NFL as a backup at the very least.

Ward was actually drafted by the Yankees in the 18th round as well, despite not having played baseball since HS.

I'm sure we discussed this just a few weeks ago but who was the last guy to hold his own in MLB and NBA? (Lofton held his onw in college, I'm sure there are more recent ones of those.)

Chris Young (the 6'10 pitcher) was a pretty good college basketball player for Princeton -- 13.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.4 BPG over his two years there.
   34. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 30, 2020 at 11:58 AM (#5946165)
Also given the overlapping seasons and the physical demands of the sports, I doubt it would be possible for anyone to play in two of the NFL, NHL and NBA, except by washing out of one sport and moving to the other. If Ward had played in the NFL, he would likely never have been a Knick.
   35. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 30, 2020 at 12:08 PM (#5946173)

The NBA is probably full of guys who excelled in high school football, but I am always fascinated by the fact that Allen Iverson was the Virginia player of the year in both basketball and football (where he played QB and DB).
   36. bunyon Posted: April 30, 2020 at 12:34 PM (#5946188)
I'm convinced that, had they any knowledge of how the game is played, a lot of NBA guys would be amazing at goal in soccer. Jordan most of all.

So many elite goalies seem to have terrible hands. I get that catching the ball isn't the most important trait but it isn't low either. Give Jordan or LeBron the feel for plays in front of the net (granted, that takes years to learn) and their physical size, speed and hands would be great.
   37. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: April 30, 2020 at 12:38 PM (#5946191)
Chris Young (the 6'10 pitcher) was a pretty good college basketball player for Princeton -- 13.4 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.4 BPG over his two years there.

Will Venable played with Young on the Padres and also played basketball at Princeton. He wasn't as good as Young but was first team Ivy.
   38. Ron J Posted: April 30, 2020 at 01:19 PM (#5946205)
Lionel Conacher never played top tier baseball -- he couldn't fit it into his schedule. No way of knowing how good he was at it but he did have a very wide range of athletic talents.

He's in the CFL Hall of Fame, the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, played in the NHL, played top level amateur baseball, boxed at a pretty high level (made the mistake of getting Jack Dempsey engaged in an exhibition and was knocked out), was provincial lightweight wrestling champion at 16 (not a schools competition).

Oh and he ran a successful insurance business business, graduated from university and started a political career before he was 36.
   39. BaseballObscura Posted: April 30, 2020 at 01:30 PM (#5946213)
Hockey Hall of Famer Babe Dye played six seasons in the International League in the 1920's and was a really good hitter and top prospect, including hiting .318 with 16 homers for Buffalo in 1923. Connie Mack reportedly tried to buy him for 25,000 dollars but was turned down by Buffalo.

Kirk McCaskill was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets and played some exhibition games for the Jets in 1983. As per wikipedia, he dressed for a regular season game but did not play.
   40. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: April 30, 2020 at 01:52 PM (#5946228)
Didn't know all that about Kirk McCaskill. Definitely a cut above Nyjer Morgan's career. Any other major leaguers drafted by the NHL out of college hockey? (Tom Glavine was drafted out of high school)

He's in the CFL Hall of Fame, the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, played in the NHL, played top level amateur baseball, boxed at a pretty high level (made the mistake of getting Jack Dempsey engaged in an exhibition and was knocked out), was provincial lightweight wrestling champion at 16 (not a schools competition).


Another Canadian guy like that was Fred Thomas.

- Most dominant Canadian basketball player of the era (albeit he was playing at ages 22-26, having enrolled after leaving the Royal Canadian Air Force). His Assumption College team beat the Harlem Globetrotters in 1945. He later played for other black barnstorming teams just a step below the Globetrotters.
- Signed by the Indians, became the first black player in the Eastern League when they assigned him to Wilkes-Barre
- Played in the CFL as well
   41. Adam Starblind Posted: April 30, 2020 at 03:00 PM (#5946266)
I find it interesting that Glavine was such an outstanding athlete. He looks (and looked) like your next door neighbor and didn't have a maximum-exertion pitching style, but I think being a 2-sport star qualifies anyone as an exceptional athlete.
   42. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 30, 2020 at 04:33 PM (#5946314)

Glavine was also an excellent hitter and fielder for a pitcher. He may not have been a flamethrower, but his all-around athleticism doesn't surprise me.
   43. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: April 30, 2020 at 05:15 PM (#5946322)
Two words: Jim Thorpe.
   44. Ron J Posted: May 01, 2020 at 09:50 AM (#5946461)
43 That's why I brought up Conacher. Among the many nicknames he picked up was, "Canada's Jim Thorpe"

Though The question was baseball/hockey and as great an athlete as he was I fear Thorpe was likely to hockey as Joe Frazier was to swimming.

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