It’s become the thing to do. Visit New York, go to a Yankees game, and boo Alex Rodriguez.
I’ll admit it can be fun. Heck, even I’ve done it, but the last time was probably way back in 2008. Since then things have changed and A-Rod is one of the last Yankees worthy of the boo-birds.
Things changed back in 2009. A-Rod, who had always been kind of a buffoon off the field and seemed to always fall on his face in the playoffs, was outed as a steroid cheat. It seemed like just another bad chapter in what was an annoying Yankee career despite MVP seasons of 2005 and 2007. Except he owned up to it and finally stopped taking himself so seriously.
Then on May 8 against the Orioles he smacked a homer that was almost like an on field announcement – he was done playing games.
A-Rod went on to have a great season and hit .286/.402/.532. Not quite the numbers he had just put up in 2007, but still among the best in the game. Then it happened, he did something he had never done in the playoffs (well technically never done from Game 5 of the 2004 ACLS to 2007), he went on a tear in the playoffs.
In 15 games during the 2009 playoffs and World Series, A-Rod hit a monstrous .365/.500/.808 with five doubles and six homers. It wasn’t just the numbers either it was the timing as well. His hits were big. Even his bad nights came when the pitching staff carried the team. And just when it looked like he was cooling off, boom, a Game 4 game tying RBI-double in the ninth inning off Brad Lidge.
A-Rod almost single handedly put the team on his back in the playoffs to carry them to a World Series and then played a huge role in helping them win it. Quite an achievement considering not a single Cubs player has done that in the past 100 years. Heck, it’s been almost 30 years since the cross town Mets have even been as lucky. But today Yankees fans seem to have forgotten about it, forgotten about the 2009 World Series and A-Rod’s amazing contribution to it.
But who am I kidding? New York is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of town. So A-Rod did more for the Yankees in one October than most active players have ever done in their careers. Who cares? This season he hasn’t gotten it done.
A-Rod’s numbers this season have paled in comparrison to his career. Instead of OPS’ing nearly 1.000 each year his line is just .274/.351/.450 (an .801 OPS). He certainly doesn’t get a pass for his age because of his contract and besides Derek Jeter is older and having a better year.
Except Jeter, who never gets booed and has been talked about by Yankees fans as a possible MVP candidate, really isn’t having a better season than A-Rod. Sure Jeter’s .322 average is much more impressive than A-Rod’s .274 mark, but this isn’t 1984 and we know that batting average isn’t everything. Not all hits are created equal.
A-Rod’s line of .274/.351/.450 is nearly identical to Jeter’s .322/.366/.443 line (just .008 OPS points different). But one player gets booed with every 0-fer and the other is an MVP candidate? Surely, you jest.
Now I know there are differences between the two players. Jeter has been consistent and A-Rod has spent time on the DL. But A-Rod’s broken hand was a freak accident the result of getting hit by a pitch and even Jeter went through a very rough stretch in May and part of June. At the end of the season their results are similar. Jeter has reached base slightly more, but A-Rod’s at bats pack slightly more of a punch. It seems as if the differences are merely expectations.
But let’s ignore everything I’ve said to this point and get to the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately aspect again. The Yankees offense, which still ranks second in all of baseball overall, has struggle lately. Specifically they struggled during a rough month of August.
Luckily, the Yankees got A-Rod back in September and in the first 13 games of the month he went on a bit of a tear. He hit in 12 of his first 13 games back and had an impressive .300/.351/.520 line behind it.
Then yesterday happened. A-Rod went 0-fer in the first game and boos started raining down on him. Then he went 0-fer in the second game and they got louder, more intense.
A friend of mine at the game, a Mets fan, who took his girlfriend, a Yankees fan, to the night game for her birthday was confused. Why were they booing A-Rod? Didn’t he win them a World Series? Hasn’t he been their hottest batter over the past two weeks? Weren’t the Yankees in the middle of sweeping a doubleheader? He joked, they should try watching a Mets game (the Mets have now lost 24 of their last 28 home games).
Things have gotten out of hand when a Mets fan is standing up for A-Rod more than Yankees fans are.
Yesterday was a rough day for A-Rod to be sure. He went 0-for-7 with five strikeouts. Really bad. But try to keep things in perspective. Try not to come off as spoiled brats who can’t even remember that A-Rod had a big RBI just the day before. Try to remember how special each World Series really is and A-Rod’s amazing contribution to it. It makes all of us, as a fan base, look pretty silly.
Editor’s note: I would like to add that it is certainly not all Yankees fans who boo A-Rod. There are quite a few of us who support him and have not forgotten his contributions of 2009, this season, and even the last few weeks. This article was aimed at a few Yankees fans, perhaps even a small, but loud, minority of us. To those Yankees fans out there who are not giving the rest of us a bad name, I say thank you.