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):