Is it time to pity Alex Rodriguez?
Who would have ever thought we’d reach the point where A-Rod is a sympathetic figure? But here we are.
Despite being one of the most talented players in baseball history, he seems to get humiliated at every turn. He is booed and heckled at every stadium in baseball. Any bad error or baserunning mistake or awkward slapping motion he makes is liable to show up as a mockable GIF on the Internet. The New York tabloids taunt and belittle him with tired puns. And even when he does play well he gets upstaged by Derek Jeter, or it simply doesn’t matter, because he’s not Jeter.
That’s just the regular season.
Once the postseason arrives, the entire nation tunes in to watch him flail and fail away at the plate. There are rumors he played well in the 2009 playoffs, but who remembers that? A-ROD IS THE CHOKIEST. That is sports gospel. 2009 is the exception that proves the rule and all that. Fair? No time for questions! We’re trying to boo A-Rod over here.
Then comes Game 3 of the ALDS and A-Rod – hitting 1-for-12 in the series with seven strikeouts – is pulled from the game for 40-year-old part-time player Raul Ibanez. Ibanez promptly ties the game with a home run and wins it in his next at-bat with another home run.
The Lesson: If you want to win a postseason game, there’s one way to do it. Bench A-Rod! [cue laugh track]
As Kansas City offensive tackle Eric Winston said this week in condemning Chiefs fans for cheering Matt Cassel’s injury: “Matt Cassel hasn't done anything to you people. Hey, if he's not the best quarterback, he's not the best quarterback, and that's OK, but he's a person.”
Same goes for A-Rod. He’s a person. He hasn’t done anything to anyone. And although his skills have diminished, he’s one of the greatest players ever and far better than Cassel is at football. A-Rod has kids. His oldest daughter is about to turn 8. Soon she’ll read something online and wonder why the world hates her father. Does that make you feel good?
It’s only going to get worse, too. The Yankees signed Rodriguez through 2017. Baseball contracts are guaranteed. So there are still five more open seasons on A-Rod and all he can defend himself with is an aging body and a slowing bat.
It’s sad. It’s ugly. It’s cruel. We can be better as fans.
We had our fun and our laughs. It’s time to move on and appreciate whatever Alex Rodriguez can still do on a baseball field.
A-Rod makes a ridiculous amount of money. He’ll be fine.