Last night, Alex Rodriguez had two chances to save the New York Yankees season. He came up with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and proceeded to strike out. He came up again with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and did the exact same thing, whiffing on a belt-high fastball from Detroit closer Jose Valverde.
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Two years ago, Rodriguez delivered one of the best postseason performances of all-time. This was the new A-Rod. More comfortable in his own skin and now beloved by fans. The burden of his failure to win a championship having finally been lifted.
That was all a facade though. There's not actually an old and new version. What you saw last night was the real Alex Rodriguez. Sure, he can come through in the ninth inning of a meaningless game in May, but when it really counts and his team needs him the most, he folds up like an accordion.
He had just two hits in eighteen at-bats against the Tigers in the ALDS. It was reminiscent of the postseason failures that marked his early years in pinstripes.
I'm not one to usually point the finger at one guy and say he's the reason a team lost, but in this case, it's all on A-Rod. For the money he makes, the least he could have done was put the ball in play during those two crucial at-bats, rather than just stand there repeatedly and watch strike after strike get blown past him.
|Photo by: Kathy Willens|
They're worried about owing Jeter $33 million over the next two seasons? That's nothing compared to the $143 million they owe Rodriguez between now and the end of 2017. If these all too familiar choke jobs are what they're still getting out of him at age 36, what can they possibly expect at age 42?
I'm a firm believer in the "clutch" gene when it comes to sports. Some players have it, some don't. You need a game-winning drive with the Super Bowl hanging in the balance? Tom Brady will hook you up. How about a jumper in the closing seconds to win an NBA Finals game? Dirk Nowitzki's got you covered. Derek Jeter has so many big hits in postseason play that you need a calculator to add them all up.
Even last night, with one on and two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Jeter hit a ball to deep right that was three feet away from giving New York a 4-3 lead. If nothing else, he at least made contact.
Then there's A-Rod...