The 2009 season has been one of redemption and rebirth for Alex Rodriguez. It seems like the tense, controversial A-Rod has been replaced by a man comfortable in his own skin. This change has led some writers, such as John Harper, to predict big things from A-Rod in the coming postseason:
But I’m buying stock in him this October because, for one thing, the odds are with him, but more importantly, I believe this is a different A-Rod from years past.
He’ll never be truly humble, let’s be honest, but I do believe the steroids revelation in the spring, combined with the ordeal of undergoing hip surgery, humbled him to some extent and humanized him in his own clubhouse, all for the better.
However, if Alex goes 2-15 in a ALDS defeat, Harper and other columnists will be certain to pen columns blaming A-Rod for yet another Yankee postseason failure. Alex himself understands that this will always be the case:
Rodriguez knows all eyes will fall on him again if the Yankees bow out early again.
“I hit cleanup for a reason; my team expects a lot out of me,” Rodriguez said. “We all understand there’s 25 players, and to win a championship and you need every guy. When you lose, people look around and numbers get dissected. I understand the score. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it should be.”
Alex serves as an easy target, allowing writers and fans to gloss over failures by such luminaries as Gary Sheffield, Randy Johnson, Jason Giambi, Jorge Posada, and even…gasp…Derek Jeter. However, as Joel Sherman notes, the 2009 Yankees are an incredibly deep team, and a first round exit should not be pinned entirely on Alex:
And I am here to say it is about time that we all stop using A-Rod as a convenient scapegoat should things go wrong for the Yankees in October. Let us assume that the highest-paid player in the history of baseball continues to gag in this Division Series. That still leaves the Yankees the highest-paid catcher, first baseman, shortstop, starting pitcher and closer in history to do something about it.
The $200 million-plus Yankees sold us hard this year that they were a tight-knit team from the bonding pool tournament in spring training to the champagne bath of late September. So — if necessary — it is time for this team to carry Rodriguez through a round of the playoffs.
There is more to this team than Alex Rodriguez, and they should be able to weather a poor performance on his part, should it come to that. Hopefully Alex has a huge postseason and quells those doubts about his fortitude forever. However, if he does not and the Yankees lose, it will not be entirely his fault. It is time to hold the entire club accountable. Alex Rodriguez has been the scapegoat for far too long.
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