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Competitive Suffering
2008-08-27 10:04
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

I called a friend of mine who roots for the Mets this morning to comisserate about a pair of tough losses last night.  In no time, it became a competition to see who is suffering more, to figure which loss was more devastating.  Misery does love company, don't she?

The Mets blew a 7-0 lead and lost in 13 innings to their division rivals, the Phillies.  That makes for a rough, sleepless night.  However, the Mets are just a half-a-game out of first place.  

The Yankees, on the other hand, are almost out of it completely.  They aren't "officially" sunk yet, but last night's loss seems extra painful because it was a game that sums up their entire season.  Right now, the Yankees are simply not a team that creates many opportunities, and when they do have opportunities they are not cashing in on them.  Spiritually, they are the antithesis of the Dynasty teams.  Toss in the fact that the loss came to a Boston team that is not at full strength, and that ain't helping matters.  Neither is the thought of the Yanks needing a win with Sidney Ponson on the hill tonight.  Granted, Ponson hasn't pitched badly for the Yanks. Still, y'all what I'm talking about. 

After the game last night I was apoplectic and I sent my friend Rich Lederer an e-mail:

"A Rod picked the wrong time to go into a slump.  Was 0-5 tonight.  Hit into two HUGE double plays.  They were booing the sh** out of him at the Stadium and for once I can't defend him.  He really came up small when they needed him.  For as great as he is, he's just not steadily the kind of big game hitter as Pujols or Vlad or Manny are.

Rich, who was born and raised in California, and is a level-headed sort, replied:

I know you have been an A-Rod supporter, but I believe you are being overly harsh when judging him.  He had a bad game tonight.  Big deal.  The truth of the matter is that he is held to a different standard than all the other Yankees.  It's so silly.  The better he does, the more fans expect.  Hell, it's no surprise to me that he doesn't come through given the burden he carries.  The whole thing is so silly.  As much as I like Guerrero, I will trade you Vlad for A-Rod right now.  And every other day of the week. 
 
Funny, no mention of Pettitte's poor performance.  Or Giambi.  Even though both are making the big bucks.  Giambi, in fact, makes more than any player not named Rodriguez.  But nary a word.  Why?  Because you don't expect as much out of him.  As such, he gets away with it.
 
Look, I'm not here to defend A-Rod's poor game tonight.  These things happen.  But I will defend him (inclusive of tonight).  He is a great player.  No single game will change that.  His clutch stats over the course of his career are just fine.  Unfortunately, they are not measuring up this year.  Bring back Morgan Ensberg.

For the record, here are Rodriguez's rate stats with runners in scoring position since 2000 (thanks to Diane Firstman for the numbers):

Season BA OBA Slug%
2000 .295 .414 .597
2001 .307 .402 .647
2002 .366 .479 .752
2003 .281 .383 .527
2004 .248 .346 .439
2005 .290 .410 .484
2006 .302 .431 .508
2007 .330 .457 .659
2008 .246 .400 .413

Comments
2008-08-27 10:37:08
1.   williamnyy23
I think I did all my suffering back in May, June and July when everyone was saying I was too pessimistic. Now, while all the optimists wallow in the Yankees pennant swoon, all the frustration is almost clean out of my system. Now, I can sit back, relax and watch the Yankees bumble through September. I can't wait :(
2008-08-27 10:40:07
2.   tommyl
0 I'd like to point out that A-Rod has a .813 OPS with RISP this year. That's a downgrade for him, but c'mon, an .813 OPS? Derek Jeter has an OPS of .754 for the year! So, with runners in scoring position this year A-Rod hits slightly better than an overall Jeter. With RISP Jeter is OPSing .780, so he's still worse than A-Rod overall. I just don't get it.
2008-08-27 10:41:33
3.   tommyl
1 The only saving grace for this season is if they tank so much that we can see Gardner, Hughes, Kennedy etc. play some instead of having to watch Ponson, Pavano and Damon attempt to patrol center. Man was he awful last night on the field.
2008-08-27 10:44:48
4.   Start Spreading the News
suffering will be me going to the game tomorrow with a Sox fan. Ugh.
2008-08-27 10:54:07
5.   Sliced Bread
Right now, I mean, this minute, ARod should change his intro music to Led Zep's "Nobody's Fault But Mine"

check it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwBMVg9L7Q0

Mofo should stand in the on-deck circle air guitaring this before every AB. Shit, I'll wait through 6 minutes of that no problem.

2008-08-27 10:57:38
6.   Sliced Bread
5 Got a monkey on my back
M-M-Monkey on my back back back back
Gonna change my ways tonight
Nobody's fault but mine
2008-08-27 11:01:51
7.   JL25and3
They should have let Alex Rodriguez walk after last season and replaced him with a Scott Brosius type. After all, they don't need an All-Star at every position, right? ARod may pile up gaudy stats, but Brosius knew how to win.

/sarcasm

2008-08-27 11:03:55
8.   RichB
0 Alex, I know this whole season is incredibly frustrating, but come on - you look at the way the Yanks have played this season, like there's about 4 holes in the lineup that rotate randomly throughout the order, and you pick on A-Rod having a bad night? He didn't get them 6 games back in the WC by himself. The whole roster has been a yo-yo all year.
2008-08-27 11:06:00
9.   joejoejoe
I think RISP batting stats are random. Does anyone have A-Rod's career numbers with RIPS vs. his career numbers overall? Those figures look a lot like month-by-month batting numbers to me which is to say they look randomly good or bad.
2008-08-27 11:13:45
10.   Sliced Bread
7 got a Brosius on my back
bro-bro-brosius on my back back back back...
2008-08-27 11:14:52
11.   Dimelo
Pettite pitched badly, but the biggest difference is that you have a huge body of work with Pettite that you can point to and say "he brought me joy on so-and-so day".

Bottom line, ARod has given us some smiles but never any joy. No other way to put it.

Can anyone please tell me if at least a month has gone by and they said, "I am so glad ARod is on this team"?

I know I haven't gone a month where I truly and unequivocally believe that. I'd be lying to myself. The day he starts to bring us long periods of joy and happiness is when people will change with their attitude for and against ARod.

2008-08-27 11:25:24
12.   dianagramr
9

gimme a few minutes .... I'll get 'em

2008-08-27 11:41:45
13.   RichB
11 Seriously? I'm glad that A-Rod is on this team every single month of the year. Every one.

I see a lot of people make the same emotional argument. But, what I never hear from those making this argument is who they would expect to play third in his place. it's all about the W's baby, and with anyone other non-fantasy choice the Yanks would lose a lot more games.

Who would you rather have?

2008-08-27 11:45:52
14.   dianagramr
9

Alex's career #s:

AB H BA OBP SLG OPS
RISP 2066 625 .303 .404 .552 .956
Other 5696 1752 .308 .384 .588 .972
Total 7762 2377 .306 .389 .579 .968

2008-08-27 11:49:59
15.   Dimelo
13 Evan Longoria
2008-08-27 11:55:39
16.   RCK
Your friend is right, Alex. His multitudes of detractors always wants to put every move he makes into the "A-Rod is no good in a big spot" storyline. The fact is, he's been in a slump for several games now. It's not like he's had a hot bat and suddenly fell to pieces in last night's game. He's slumping, and it's the worst possible time for him to be doing so, but every player on the team has had a slump or five this year.

It's so easy to get sucked into the mentality that it's all on A-Rod. Certainly he gets sucked into it.

2008-08-27 11:56:13
17.   ChrisS
9 If you look at most players, including the clutch gods, once the sample size gets large enough, their numbers with RISP tend to hew very closely with their career numbers. ARod, Ortiz, Jeter, David Eckstein, etc.

It's the result statistical variation from relatively small sample sizes, but people want a better story than that. Hence we get mental collapse, psychology, destiny, magic etc.

Derek Jeter is a very good player that played on some very good teams early in his career and had some special moments in some key spots. Those are remembered and because they were early on, they allow his failures to be forgotten or swept under the rug (After all, we can forgive him, he made that play, remember?). Some guys don't get that luxury early and are forever branded as losers no matter what else they do. A-Rod essentially carried this team in 2007 and kept them in the playoff hunt, but because he can't do it all and because there was no ring, he's a choke artist.

2008-08-27 11:57:53
18.   ChrisS
15 Good luck with that. He should be available around, oh, something about hell and cold temperatures.
2008-08-27 12:05:59
19.   Dimelo
18 It was a question, it had no qualifications, so I answered it as it was asked. If I had a choice, who would I rather have and that's who.

I'd just like a 3rd basemen who isn't as great as ARod. You can have the great ARod. I want just a mediocre or slightly above average 3rd basemen, who isn't in the news with the following characters: Pete Rose, Madonna, and Warren Buffet.

Bill Mueller was a gamer, not anywhere near the same stratosphere as ARod, but a player like him is my idea of what I want out of my 3rd basemen.

You can have all the great OPS+ numbers.

2008-08-27 12:09:34
20.   ms october
i think a lot of it lies in this statement from rich lederer:
The truth of the matter is that he is held to a different standard than all the other Yankees.
it is very true. where i think my thoughts depart from rich's is i am not sure it is silly. arod is the best hitter the yanks have by far and he is needed to put up big numbers.
what might not be fair is that this team as currently constructed might just need a season from him like last year - which is an impossibly high standard.
someone alluded to the bulls in an earlier post (though more as foils to the knicks and ewing), but i will use them as an example. was it wrong to hold jordan to a higher standard than pippen? or maybe the question is fundamentally should we expect our top stars, especially baseball players who inherently fail way more than they suceed, to be held to the standard of jordan?
2008-08-27 12:16:37
21.   pistolpete
The thing is, it's only going to take 1 or 2 big moments in a playoff game (preferrably World Series, but I'll take ALCS at this point) for us to put Alex in the 'true Yankee' bracket.

Brosius was probably godawful for most of the regular season every year, but what do we all remember about the guy?

1998, Game 5 in 2001. So that's what, 3-4 'great' games and he's still mentioned in the same breath as Reggie freakin' Jackson..?

2008-08-27 12:18:14
22.   RCK
20 But the height of the different standard to which A-Rod is held is completely disproportionate to the gap between his talent and that of his teammates. The argument that A-Rod is held to a higher standard because he is more talented/higher paid only holds up if we then hold every other player to a standard in exact proportion to his talent/salary. Something that would, of course, be impossible to do, thus exposing the silliness of doing it to A-Rod.
2008-08-27 12:34:47
23.   tommyl
Know who's a great clutch hitter? Tony Womack. Smacked that double off the greatest closer of all time in the bottom of the 9th, down by a run of game 7. Doesn't get much more clutch than that. Maybe we should sign him...oh wait...

17 I couldn't agree more. I've pointed out some of Jeter's faults here not because I think he's a choker just that I wanted to show how we ignore when he screws up because the party line is he's a gamer and a true Yankee (TM). To demand that Alex has to have a year like he did last year every year is a joke. That was a videogame year and likely the best of a Yankee since perhaps Mantle's triple crown year. In other words last year wasn't just MVP it was a historically great year. Demanding that is a joke.

The other example is last night. Pettitte was awful last night, yet we've spent all this time talking about how crappy a choke artist A-Rod is.

2008-08-27 12:39:56
24.   tommyl
21 The Brosius argument is such a joke. The idea that that team won because he was a winner or something is laughable. That team won because they had a HoF SS in his prime, the best closer ever, a pitching staff with multiple Cy Youngs and borderline HoFs, a borderline HoF C (in his prime and playing backup half of the time), and a perennial all star in CF. Throw in an above average RF and freakin' Darryl Strawberry on the bench and who the hell cares who plays 3B?

I love when people argue how the dynasty team was all a bunch of gamers with no standouts. That 98 team had 3 or 4 borderline HoF players (at prime positions) including the greatest relief pitcher of all time. But yeah, it was all because of Scotty Brosius and his "winning" attitude.

2008-08-27 12:42:24
25.   JL25and3
19 I think the fact that you'd rather have Bill Mueller than Alex Rodriguez pretty well says it all.
2008-08-27 12:46:54
26.   ChrisS
23 And Pettitte is the fifth highest paid pitcher in baseball, first on this team. Shouldn't we expect better? No, he's been there and won, remember that game Pettitte had then?

Sorry, this is a mediocre team and if everyone carries over to next year, there's one guy that I wouldn't expect to regress or decline and it's ARod. I'm interested to see what happens this offseason and I'm under no delusion that this team is a FA signing or two from contention. Next season could be worse than this one.

2008-08-27 12:57:14
27.   Dimelo
25 ARod never had a bigger hit than Muller's ALCS game 4 hit. Won a batting title, played excellent defense.

I'll take 4 years of Muller over ARod's 10,000 years that he has left w/ the Yanks.

2008-08-27 12:59:55
28.   Dimelo
25 ARod never had a bigger hit than Muller's ALCS game 4 hit. Won a batting title, played excellent defense.

I'll take 4 years of Muller over ARod's 10,000 years that he has left w/ the Yanks.

2008-08-27 13:05:13
29.   ChrisS
27 And you would take whatever you got out of Bill Mueller and wouldn't expect him to save the team nightly?

Exactly.

2008-08-27 13:06:12
30.   nick
Dimelo, guys in this thread have already mocked you enough, so--naaah, they haven't mocked you enough yet.

Stop trying to rationalize. You're willing to have a worse ballclub to get a guy you don't like off the team. It's that simple. Just admit it.

2008-08-27 13:25:48
31.   RZG
And if Arod had knocked in 2 runs? The Yanks still would have lost because Pettitte stunk this game. As usual, it comes down to the pitching.

C'mon Dimelo, enlighten us as to how Arod was the reason Pettitte stunk.

2008-08-27 13:53:46
32.   Mr Faded Glory
"Ponson hasn't pitched badly for the Yanks"

5.46 ERA, 78 ERA+, 1.607 WHIP. Could someone please explain to me then what exactly constitutes "pitching badly"?

2008-08-27 13:58:52
33.   pistolpete
24 I'm not arguing that Brosius > A-Rod, but isn't it a little ridiculous how we view our baseball history with blinders on sometimes?

I'll argue one thing, though — the dynasty teams had the better bench players. If only 1990's Daryl Strawberry was in our reserves in 2004. ;-)

2008-08-27 14:20:26
34.   joejoejoe
14 dianagramr you rock!
2008-08-27 16:14:28
35.   OldYanksFan
Scott Brosius Yankee 4 yrs: .267 .329 .428 .756
Melktoast Cabrera career: .266 .328 .373 .701
I will say Scotty was a better slugger then Melky!

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