In our lifetime, did you ever think we would see Alex Rodriguez get back on a baseball field and dominate his way to 3,000 hits? In our lifetime, did you ever think we would read that Tiger Woods, on a golf course, HIS DOMAIN, quadruple bogey on his last hole at the Memorial a couple of weeks ago and then miss the cut of the 2015 US Open Championship this weekend? Ponder those questions for a bit.
Done pondering? Let’s start with Alex Rodriguez. Sitting out half of 2013, all of 2014 with a suspension by then-Commissioner Bud Selig, anticipation built up to Spring Training 2015. Put off steroids for a minute. This guy’s hips were giving out on him and his power swing diminished before getting the bench for a year and half. If anything, overcoming the health issues and aging is impressive enough. Add in the fans, tabloids and critics who don’t believe he should not even be on a baseball field anymore, Alex’s ego has to be loving the latest episode of a comeback kid in sports. Meanwhile, click your camera next to Tiger and he will say you knocked his tooth out.
Yogi Berra once said that baseball is “90% mental and the other half is physical” and clearly Alex’s mentality has been free of ease being away from the game and coming back ready to prove something. You saw it last night as he had a huge smile after launching #3,000 into the Right Field seats against Justin Verlander. Having time off most likely helped him. Oh by the way, he has 13 homers well into June.
Then there is Tiger. His mental state since Elin Nordegren caught him and we all saw the unfolding Thanksgiving morning 2009 has been continually hit hard. Seems he has been unable to shake the critics, or stop screwing up (see also cheating on Lindsey Vonn). His golf game has been weighed down mentally. Yes, back has been breaking down, diminishing his power swing, but golf comes down to concentration. Can you imagine seeing the word “cheater” flown above your tournament at Chambers Bay in Washington? Even making one “celebrity” tee off, I could feel the pressure of hitting a good ball!
I mentioned Alex had a lot of time off to think about what he had done and power himself back up. Even after all the mayhem with Elin, Tiger has, as of late 2014, attempted to win 16 majors, only finishing in five top-five finishes (Cyrgalis, Brett; NY Post 11-26-14). You can add this weekend’s US Open to the list of failed attempts. Not even a quick time off in February to get his back right and, most likely, his mentality right, could help. Maybe it’s because playing every weekend and hearing it every weekend has taken a toll on him.
These two athletes have had raw talent in their sports, though one cheated on the game and most likely his ex-wife and the other just continually having a personal crisis affect his incredible talent on the golf course. They are compare and contrast-able because of their character traits and their public persona. How they handle the persona and the critics are clearly on different tracks, one staying on the rails mentally and one just going off the rails and missing the cut.