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