A-Rod is not the problem
As regular as the Yankees being in the playoffs has become, so has the annual jeering of third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Despite carrying the team on his back to the World Series in 2009, all that was forgiven has re-surfaced as Alex has followed ’09 with three consecutive horrid postseasons.
Of course, this October is hopefully still just beginning for the Yankees after an exciting Game 3 win that put them up 2-1 in the ALDS. As you know, Raul Ibanez hit the game-tying and game-winning home runs in the 9th and 12th innings making for a truly historic playoff win. But unfortunately, the bigger story is that he came into the game for A-Rod, who has now struck out in 7 of his 12 playoff at-bats. The cheers that were heard when A-Rod was taken out rivaled the cheers that erupted following Ibanez’s homer(s).
You can’t go on one sports website (even here at Yankees Fans Unite) or watch one sports show without them bringing up the tremendous struggles of the Yankees’ $300 million man. They all point to that bust of a contract and also how he continues to bat third in the order through the first three games, despite clearly not deserving to be.
No doubt people have a solid argument to be mad at A-Rod and want him either benched or off the team completely. But they are thinking in terms that would have applied several years ago, but not at this present time.
Get it through your heads Yankee fans – Alex Rodriguez is no longer Alex Rodriguez. Forget about his contract; he clearly isn’t worth the money. But the guy is 37 years old, and a former steroid user. Not only is he at the age where most athletes begin to break down, but he’s also at the stage in his life where performance-enhancing drug use starts to take its toll.
Granted, he is far more mature and smarter than he was when he juiced down in Texas. Yet the fact remains that he is simply an aging superstar who is past his prime. Actually to me the numbers he put up this year are impressive considering he played in just 122 games. He will never hit 30 home runs again, and likely won’t fare too well in other offensive categories as he plays out the final half of his 10-year deal. He simply isn’t the same A-Rod, and yet Yankee fans think of him as that guy who should be carrying this team and getting at least a hit if not a home run every at-bat, which sparks their hatred and dislike towards his play.
Another gripe quick-thinking fans have with Alex is that he hits third in this Yankee playoff lineup. Correct me if I’m wrong, but does he put out the lineup card every day? Does he decide who to pinch-hit for and who to bring in from the bullpen in close games? No. Those are the duties of the Yankees manager, and that is Joe Girardi. Alex doesn’t ask to bat third and won’t refuse to when Joe says so. A-Rod batting third is nothing of his own fault. I’m not saying blame Joe, but certainly don’t act like him batting third is something that is catastrophic to the Yankees’ chances. Because the players fans want to replace him in the three hole – be it Robbie Cano, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, or Mark Teixeira -none of them have done that much better as far as producing runs. (Teix has hit better than the other three, but he too has had his struggles)
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like Alex Rodriguez. I never have, and simply root for him mutually for him being a member of the Yankees. But acting like he is the only one causing the Yankees’ offensive woes is ridiculous, and so is the idea that he should be hitting like the A-Rod of old, because he’s long gone. What you have now is simply an old A-Rod, and fans need to accept it and understand him still being on the team is something to point fingers at Brian Cashman and the late George Steinbrenner for. The Boss especially had a change of heart after letting him walk and quickly re-signed him in hopes of him continually breaking records and establishing himself as an MLB legend in the Yankee pinstripes.
Instead of signing Mike Lowell, or trading with the Florida Marlins for Miguel Cabrera, George wanted A-Rod back, and he wanted him back for another decade. How could anyone turn down the money he was offered, and also, how could anyone have thought that at age 37 he’d still be hitting 40 home runs and being one of the top hitters in baseball? Not me. Most 37 year olds aren’t, no matter how legendary or productive they were in their prime. And especially considering his PED use, he only adds to the lesser production a veteran player like him will contribute to the Yankees.
So before you begin to hate on A-Rod and want him kicked out of New York, remember it was barely his fault he’s still here and certainly not his fault that at age 37, he can’t hit like he’s 29. I don’t remember too many others who were able to do that.