Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Dispelling the Myths

It's a mantra in the New York and national media.
Derek Jeter is a clutch player. He's an outstanding post-season performer.
Alex Rodriguez is the definition of a choker. When the pressure is on, he crumbles. His post-season failures are legendary and he can't handle the big situations.

Let's take a look at the first common belief:
Jeter - Mr. Clutch.
Rodriguez - Mr. Choke.

Here are their 2005 "Close and Late" stats:

It seems pretty obvious that in 2005, Rodriguez was far superior in the "clutch." This certainly does little to explain the rain of boos pouring down on Rodriguez, not the bitter snideness from the press.

Perhaps it's by examining the post-season numbers - where everyone from Mike (Jackass) Lupica to Ken Davidoff to Karl Ravetch have buried Rodriguez - that we'll understand the displeasure of the fans.


Hmm, that didn't work either. Jeter is 0.02 ahead in batting average and behind in every other category. So why is one villified and booed, and the other cheered as a hero?

The answer is, in my opinion, simple. It's the media. You can hardly get through an episode of Baseball Tonight without a mention of Rodriguez being a "choker" in a big situation. If Damon's on second with no one out in the ninth in a one run game, and Jeter pops out, Giambi grounds out, and Rodriguez flies out, who do you think is place in a place of ignominy on that trashy ESPN hate fest? Rodriguez.

The day after Rodriguez wins the 2005 AL MVP, the cover of the Daily News mocks Rodriguez for winning an MVP but no ring (seriously, check the Lupica link above).

The media hates him, is out to get him, and encourages fans to do the same. Barry Bonds gets a reality show for being a prick his entire life and cheating to break records. Rodriguez gets thrown under the bus repeatedly because he's "too stiff in interviews." That's really the only reason I can come up with, since there's no numbers to back up the wild assertations.

It's a sham and an absolute joke. Sure, A-Rod doesn't give the most "interesting" interviews. Does Jeter though? While Jeter seems more personable, his answers are just as cliched and canned as Rodriguez's. However, he's the King of New York.

And now the media is all but encouraging the fans to boo Rodriguez right out of town. Yes, boo the guy who is the reigning MVP, the guy without whom the team you root for would not have made the playoffs last year. Boo the guy who won the "AL Player of the Month Award"....... LAST MONTH. That's the guy to get on. He's terrible, he's a choker, he's unclutch.

I'm many times disappointed in the fans, but they never really can be counted on en masse to think for themselves and instead regurgitate whatever tripe the media feeds them.

And when I watch a Yankee game and hear the fans booing Rodriguez for busting his butt, playing hurt, and being the best player on the team, it makes me ashamed to be a Yankee fan.

posted by Mr. Faded Glory @ 8:09 AM   5 comments


At 6/14/2006 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word. I was at the Cleveland game tonight and when the guys behind me booed a-rod i turned around and yelled at them. The whole night my friend and I were like oh yeah hes only has 46 freaking RBIs. i think the guys would've beat us up had we not been 16 year old girls. But like, not real yankee fans at all if you boo Alex. Hes a player.

At 6/14/2006 10:26 PM, Blogger Rex Banner said...

Your "close and late" stats are from last season. If you look at AROD this year, he's put up a line of .118 .189 .147 0HR 3RBI in 34 ABs. On top of that, he’s made 11 errors in the field, which isn’t helping his cause. It's not too hard to see why the fans are frustrated with his play.

In regards to the playoff stats, some of those numbers were put up without the Pinstripes. His overall numbers as a Yank aren’t horrible, but when you break it down into the last 9 games (what have you done for me lately?) the line looks more like his 06 “close and late” numbers than those of his career.

Despite this, I do think he’s been unfairly vilified and he lets it get to him too easily. The last thing we need is him to be “Knoblauched” and have something that comes so naturally to him become difficult.
A little advice from Yogi could go a long way: “How can you hit and think at the same time?”

At 6/14/2006 11:20 PM, Blogger Mr. Faded Glory said...

There isn't really enough of a sample size to go on for 2006 stats as far as close and late.

As far as the fact that he did some of that in other uniforms, people are too quick to forget that if not for Rodriguez in 2004, the Yankees most likely don't make the ALCS and Boston doesn't need to make a big comeback to get the victory.

He gets undue blame while Matsui and Sheffield got passes for their "unclutch" performances.

If people want to talk about his contract, that's fine, but the Yankees are only paying him approximately $3M/yr more than Sheffield and Matsui and approx $3M/pr less than Jeter.

At 6/14/2006 11:21 PM, Blogger Mr. Faded Glory said...

Also I wish someone would take into account that he's played the last 9 games with a stomach flu because if he didn't, the lineup would have been the Clippers + Giambi and Damon.

At 6/15/2006 12:30 AM, Blogger Rex Banner said...

No doubt the Yanks wouldn’t have beat the Twins without him in 04. Heck, they may have missed the playoffs all together without him. That was certainly the case last year. But remember, winning the ALDS or making the playoffs doesn’t cut it if you’re wearing the interlocking NY these days. When you’re supposedly the best player on the team, batting in the middle of the lineup, and you don’t hit a HR or drive in a run in series that the team loses, then start the next season with his “close and late” line, there is bound to be criticism.

I didn’t state his “close and late” to draw inference from, I showed it to demonstrate why the fans are so frustrated with AROD and are booing him. You are right that the sample size is too small to make any predictions about the full year with any confidence. However, the raw numbers how that he hasn’t produced in those “clutch” spots yet this year and he’d better turn it around or the fans will be riding his ass all year long. The best player on the team shouldn’t disappear in key spots, and as of this point he basically has.

I’ve never been a huge AROD fan, but it is embarrassing that many fans of my favorite team have lowered themselves to the level of booing a player when he gives it his all. Plus, as I’ve stated before, I believe that he thinks about it too much and allows it to effect his play negatively. Hopefully the boos turn to cheers and his play turns them to standing ovations.


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