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August 03, 2006

Some Media Still On A-Rod

From Jeremy Sandler in the National Post yesterday:

He won his second American League MVP award last year with the Yankees, and he became the youngest player to hit 450 career home runs earlier this year, but Rodriguez has not been able to escape the critics that continually point to his contract. He is not hitting as many homers as he has in the past -- he is on pace for 35 home runs, the second time in three years he will have failed to reach 40 -- and, worse, he has been accused of not hitting in the clutch. Yankees fans have booed, almost mercilessly, this season.

"It's been a challenging year no question," the 31-year-old third baseman says, "but I'm proud to have gone out there through some struggling times."

Blogs at such Yankee-friendly Web sites like pinstripealley.com are filled with vitriol towards Rodriguez.

While his overall production has been solid, he is striking out more than ever. His average in so-called late-inning pressure situations with runners on base is a mere .214 and though he won two Gold Gloves as a shortstop, he leads the American League with 18 errors at third base this year.

He has never entirely been accepted by the Yankee faithful. From his arrival as a one-time foil to Yankees legend Derek Jeter to his infamous slap at the ball in the 2004 playoffs to his .133 batting average in last year's division series, Yankee fans simply do not feel he is living up to his billing or his contract.

"[Boston's] David Ortiz has fans pulling for him every time, and if he doesn't get he job done they're saying, 'Get it next time,'" says Damon, who left the Red Sox for the Yankees last winter.

"Every at-bat is in question with [Rodriguez]. It makes it tough as a player.

"He understands that he needs to win a championship for the fans to really accept him."

For manager Joe Torre, the circus surrounding Rodriguez has taken on an almost satirical bent.

"The fans, every game, they cheer the hell out of him and you predict it, you hit into a double-play, you strike out, they boo you," Torre says. "But it's sort of a mock thing so much attention has been called to it."

This all got me thinking - If the Yankees win the World Series this year, what type of role does Alex have to play in the Series to get the media/fan monkey off his back?

If he goes 1 for 23 to start the World Series and then hits a game-winning HR in the bottom of the 9th in Game 6, turning a loss into a ring-clincher victory, is that enough?

Or, does he have to "star" in an entire World Series to get everyone off his case?

Is it just with the bat, or, with the glove too? If he hits .529 in the World Series but makes an error in the field that costs the Yankees a game, will the masses still be after him?

Further, do the Yankees need to win the World Series to end all this? What if the Yankees lose the World Series - but, in the Series, A-Rod bats like Barry Bonds did in the 2002 World Series? After all, that performance got the choker-label off Bonds. Could it work for A-Rod too?

I just hope that the Yankees make the World Series this year and that it gives A-Rod a chance to end this all - in some fashion.

Yes, even I'm getting tired of talking about it.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at August 3, 2006 10:32 AM

Comments

I don't think the media will ever get off A-Rod's back. They love to hate him because he's n easy target.

It's like that one popular kid in high school: everyone bashes him on the outside, but on the inside they are all wishing they could be just like him.

Let's get Adrian Beltre over here so the media can see what a real overpaid, bust of a third baseman looks like.

Posted by: Mike A. [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 3, 2006 11:35 AM

I have to agree, Mike A. I think the fans and media will work with A-Rod on a day-by-day basis. When he does good, they'll cheer. When he does bad, they'll boo. I don't really understand it. He had such an amazing year last year. I think what happened was everyone was so disgusted by his ALDS and when he started the year in a funk, the disgust carried over and now it will never end. Since most fans are sheep anyway and takes their cues from others, A-Rod doing well in the post-season will generate some nice press and that will lead to some fans getting off his back. But even with some post-season heroics, I think most people will always, for some reason, even if it's just a little thing that exists in the back of their minds, hate A-Rod. Apparently no one liked him in Texas, either. So maybe it's just his personality.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 3, 2006 11:51 AM

He must not start 0-15 in the WS and then get a meaningless single and ask for the ball. And finish 1-22. Definite no-no......

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 3, 2006 02:37 PM