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Yer Great, but You Suck
2005-11-15 05:09
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

As I happily reported the news that Alex Rodriguez had won the AL MVP to Yankee fans around the office yesterday, more than a few rolled their eyes and immediately made a disparaging remark about his performance against the Angels in the ALDS. Today, the back page of the Daily News reads, "More Bling (But No Ring)" while the Post screams "MVP But...Lack of rings rarnishes A-Rod's second AL trophy."

Rodriguez is the first Yankee to win an MVP since Don Mattingly nabbed it in 1985, and is the fourth player to win the award at two different positions. Jeez, I don't recall there being so many qualifiers when Mattingly won. No, for this kind of contempt and lack of appreciation you've got to think back on how Darryl Strawberry, or Rickey Henderson or Dave Winfield were often treated in New York. Nothing they did was ever good enough. Give us a World Serious championship or You Stink. Wa-wa-wah. Sometimes New Yorkers are nothing but a bunch of big babies.

Forget about the fact the fact that Rodriguez has just recorded the two best seasons ever by a Yankee third baseman. Sir, he's no Derek Jeter (nevermind that his regular season numbers against the Red Sox for the past two years are better than the captains, or the fact that Jeter's two Gold Glove awards can be partly attributed to Rodriguez's arrival at the hot corner). Rodriguez is a playoff bust. Nevermind the fact that he sported a .330 career playoff average going into the post-season this year. Forget the great series he had against the Twins in the ALDS in 2004. Let's just recall how he did in the last four games against Boston in 2004, not the first three games. Let's gloss over how poorly Matsui and Sheffield performed over that span. As a matter of fact, let's forget everything Rodriguez has brought to New York but his failures.

When he won the award in 2003 it didn't count because he played for a bad Rangers team, this year it doesn't count because the Bombers didn't win the World Serious. Mike Lupica, who has criticized the Yankees in recent years for being joyless, and Yankee fans for buying into Steinbrenner's culture of entitlement, is just one of many local columnists who doesn't appreciate what Rodriguez has done in New York. He focuses on what he hasn't done. Man, Lupica kind of sounds like...a typical Yankee fan, doesn't he?

Look, I'm not saying that Rodriguez is the most likable player in town. In fact, I understand why it is easy not to like him. I also think that there is some truth to the notion that he can tense-up in big situations. Not always, but sometimes. But man, if a player ever has to have a flaw, I'd rather it be because he's trying too hard and not hard enough. Regardless, Rodriguez's performance in big games isn't as poor as Barry Bonds' was for many years, or even Mike Schmidt's for a few years there. In fact, you can check the record books and find any number of great players--including the likes of Mickey Mantle--who had horrible post seasons. The point is, the coverage Rodriguez has received has been grossly unfair. Moreover, it is sad when we can't recognize a player's accomplishments because we are so fixated on what they haven't yet accomplished. Yeah, yeah, I know, it comes with the territory with Rodriguez. But does it have to come with the territory for us as fans too?

Comments
2005-11-15 05:54:40
1.   Marc Normandin
I don't like how that article you linked to claims Ortiz was a part time player. I understand he didn't play defense as a DH, but seriously, its not like he was the league's top pinch hitter or something going up against ARod. ARod won because he had a better hitting season, and because his defense, which was awful at first, picked up considerably and gave him more value than Ortiz in 2005.

Think the Yanks will re-sign Matsui today?

2005-11-15 06:00:20
2.   Bags
Amen, brother.

You should email this is its entirety to Joyless Mike Lupica.

2005-11-15 06:02:49
3.   Ben
I only read the Post this morning, but I let out an 'aw man' when I saw the back cover. Bernie Williams and john Olerud are two of my favorite players, so that gives you an idea of my attachment to the rah-rah plane of baseball enthusiasm, and still the media reaction has me upset. I simply can't believe that a guy on a home town team wins this award and is being slighted for it, and dishonarably so by at least Mike Vaccarro who picks and chooses stats to make his arguement. Just awful.

A-rod has nothing to be ashamed of. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

2005-11-15 06:05:28
4.   Alex Belth
Yes, it looks like Matsui will sign a 4-year deal in the $50 million range. I'm sure it'll get done at some juncture today.
2005-11-15 06:10:58
5.   searay
Another amen. Good job Alex. I am so tired of people twisting the facts to slight Arod.
2005-11-15 06:18:21
6.   Dimelo
Great job, Alex. I'm stuck in my office arguing these same points but it will always be about the ALDS and the last four games vs. Boston when it comes to talking about Alex. It's really frustrating if you ask me.
2005-11-15 06:19:41
7.   Oscar Azocar
The local media has been unfair. This whole thing reeks of the way the media/fans treated Mike Schmidt, Carl Yastrzemski in his early days, Patrick Ewing...Just very ugly.
2005-11-15 06:26:14
8.   domvjr
Amen to you Alex. I totally agree with your observations. Unless you get a ring, your a bum. Well, I for one am glad A-Rod is a Yank. The Yanks don't even play the Angels, if he is still in Texas. Lupica is just an asshole, his m/o is to be the contrarian. I live in the Philly area, so I know what it is like when a city doesn't appreciate greatness. After all they chased Wilt, Barkley, and Dick Allen out of town. They booed Schmidt unmercifully. I hope all Yankee fans realize that A-Rod is a special player, who hopefully will get plenty of opportunity to succeed in the playoffs.
2005-11-15 06:53:07
9.   Dimelo
To give credit to the good sportswriters, who choose not to be the story but write about the story, and not inject their perceived perceptions then I think Jack Curry does a better job in today's times than the other names we've mentioned here. Everyone knows about Rodriguez's .133 BA in the playoffs, how he did in the last 4 games vs. Boston last year, none of that needs to be rehashed because yesterday that was not the story. The story was ARod winning the MVP for his regular season play. It wasn't about poker, it's not about his uncle, or anything else except his regular season play and him winning the MVP for those accomplishments. You can argue the points that Ortiz deserved it more, it really is hard to develop a counter argument against Ortiz because he too helped carry his team, but please don't make the story to be anything other than the MVP argument and ARod winning the MVP because if you do then you are just contributing to the madness. And that's what Vacarro and Lupica (aka Gnome) have done, that's all the sports editors have done in the Post and Daily News with their back pages. You'll sell more papers if you write about the stuff around the story (unclutch, poker player, chokes in the playoffs, purple lips, etc, etc) than the story itself. I don't have one negative thing to say about Ortiz, I honestly thought he was as deserving as ARod.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/15/sports/baseball/15mvp.html

2005-11-15 06:59:45
10.   wsporter
Nicely said Alex. I wish more people could and would appreciate A-Rod for the great player he is and get beyond the money. We haven't seen anybody this skilled in a Yankee uniform in a long, long time. I love what Jeter does and what he brings to the field every game. He's my favorite player. It doesn't mean I can't appreciate what we have in A-Rod.

Lupica is something else. He seemed to be getting nastier and more jaded by the day. Its why I don't read his stuff or watch the Sports Reporters or buy his books. He's a joyless pedantic screamer. Who has time for that?

2005-11-15 07:15:33
11.   rbj
What you said, Alex.
2005-11-15 07:23:00
12.   Marc Normandin
I can't take Lupica seriously just because he's been on Late Night television...and because most of the time he's a dope
2005-11-15 07:23:58
13.   YankeeInMichigan
If my memory serves me correctly, the Yankees won the 1977 ALCS on a ninth-inning ground ball that George Brett threw away. Had Brett made the play, the Yankees would have gone home, and the postseason goat would have been the new kid on the block, free agent Reggie Jackson. That overpayed, loud-mouthed bum just melted in the big games, ya know.
2005-11-15 07:33:28
14.   Shaun P
Thanks, Alex, for saying so well what most of us were thinking - and for taking to task the sportswriters out there who'd rather hate than celebrate. And the newspaper industry wonders why circulation is down? When they publish garbage like that, its no wonder more people ignore the papers.
2005-11-15 07:35:34
15.   jdsarduy
This is probably the worst article I've read on the A-Rod/Ortiz MVP.
This guy is a Yankee hater and loves the Red Sox, nothing wrong with that, but if you can't write an objective piece on the MVP subject then you really shouldn't be writing.

http://www.boston.com/sports/nesn/wilbur/sports_blog/blog/2005/11/14/true_value/

Lets face it, Ortiz numbers and A-Rod numbers were even or A-Rod were a little better.
Everybody talks about Ortiz clutch hits in the late innings. Kind of misleading.
B/c when A-Rod hits a grand slam in the 1st inning and the Yanks win 4-3, that doesn't count as much as Ortiz hitting a HR to beat a club 7-6 in 9th? Dumb logic.

How about when A-Rod is on base and he goes from 1st to 3rd on a hit and he scores from 2nd base on a hit, can Ortiz do that? Does that offensive category count ? Of course it does but are records kept of this? No. Jason Stark said on ESPN Ortiz lost it b/c he was a DH.
No it's not the only reason he lost, and is that A-Rod's fault?
Is it A-Rod fault that after batting practice he works on his defensive and Ortiz doesn't?
A-Rod works hard to be a complete player while Ortiz doesn't. Why should Ortiz get the MVP?
Don't get me wrong, Ortiz is the only Red Sox I like and if he was free agent this yr I would make him the #1 man to go after. He's also being way under paid but not being a good defensive player is Ortiz's fault.

There's something about A-Rod people don't like.
I don't know what it is and I wish one of these writers would share it with us, b/c I would really like to know.
So until the Sox players and some of the media explain why they don't like A-Rod, they are wrong.

2005-11-15 07:37:18
16.   Murray
The sports press really ought to be ashamed of the way it covered this story. The story is that Rodriguez won the MVP Award. Period. All the interpretation of how little it means absent championships is rank punditry, and yet the punditry has eclipsed the story. Sports reporters need to re-think their jobs. Sports columnists need to start thinking.
2005-11-15 07:47:02
17.   Cliff Corcoran
Thanks for that, Alex. I couldn't agree more.
2005-11-15 07:47:40
18.   DarrenF
Alex,

Hear, hear. A true masterpiece entry on a site full of masterpiece entries.

I think some fans appreciate the regular season. Most fans only watch the Mets, the Red Sox, and the playoffs -- that does not apply to the regulars on this board.

Now, as we all know, the entire realm of Yankee fandom changed in 1988 when a team won 125 games and lost 50. 75 games over .500 skewed the reasonable expectations of baseball fans in this area and the writers seemed to have followed suit.

Mike Vaccaro wrote today that the regular season doesn't matter. That's an interesting postion for a sportswriter to take. He made such a convincing argument that perhaps I won't read his column anymore between April and October.

2005-11-15 07:49:10
19.   Alex Belth
I know Steve Goldman has a new Pinstriped Bible coming out today. I'd expect him to celebrate Rodriguez's achievement and give us some historical perspective too. I'll link to it once it is out.
2005-11-15 07:50:38
20.   Alex Belth
Oh, and just because I think Rodriguez deserved the award shouldn't take anything away from the tremendous season David Ortiz had. It was a truly memorable year, and even though I don't think it merited an MVP, it was one for the ages, certainly around these parts.
2005-11-15 07:51:32
21.   DarrenF
jsardguy,

In response to that Wilbur column:

These numbers are based on my memory, but in the suddenly-popular "close-and-late" category, Ortiz was 27-for-78 and Rodriguez was 22-for-75.

Yes, Ortiz was better in that cross-section of statistics. I suppose Ortiz had more dramatic moments. I recall several dramatic homeruns for both players.

Anyway, the close-and-late reveals that Ortiz had 5 more hits in that situation over the course of the season.

You know what? I'll take the 525 non-close-and-late at-bats rather than the 75 close-and-late at-bats.

I mean, doesn't anybody care about close-and-early? Do the first six innings count?

2005-11-15 07:53:14
22.   Chucksax
I had an interesting conversation about this last night with my oldest brother, who's a diehard like I am. I'm likening A-Rod's treatment by the media and fans to Mickey Mantle's treatment - the best (or one of the top three) player in the game of the time, yet regarded as a perennial disappointment. Unfortunately for Alex, he needs to hit 4 home runs in a game seven of a world series in order for him to get the respect he deserves.

My brother, for instance, refused to acknowledge that A-Rod was more valuable to the team than Jeter was this year. A-Rod wasn't "clutch," you see, and Jeter is, despite the .220 with RISP Jeter posted this year. But, Jeter's "clutch," because he hit .400 in the DS, and A-Rod didn't.

Drives me nuts some times. I'm waiting for him to say, "I'd rather have Scott Brosius than Alex Rodriguez."

2005-11-15 07:54:22
23.   Shaun P
Presuming that Albert Pujols wins the NL MVP today, and given that his team has gone to the playoffs in 4 of his 5 years but has NEVER won the World Series - I can't wait to see all the articles about how less deserving Pujols is than Derrek Lee, who of course has a World Series ring.
2005-11-15 07:59:58
24.   DarrenF
One more minor point about Lupica's article. Lupica floats the idea that ARod would have lost the MVP if the voters factored in playoff performance.

Ortiz had one playoff RBI. Not really his fault the team only played three games, but he still didn't do much to help his cause. Besides, the bottom line is winning the WS, no?

Guerrero obviously did nothing to help his case.

I think Konerko would have leapfrogged Hafner and that's about the only difference that would have occurred.

2005-11-15 08:39:18
25.   YankeeInMichigan
RBI Opportunities give some statistical credence to Ortiz' "clutch" aura. Steve Goldman recently pointed out that, in RBI Opportunities, A-Rod is above league average (despite his reputation), while Ortiz is off the charts.

So if Ortiz had won the award, it would not have been a miscarriage of justice. Far less worthy players (Ichiro, Pudge, Juan Gone) have won it in recent years.

That being said, every other statistic and consideration points in A-Rod's favor. I agree wholeheartedly that A-Rod is getting a bum rap by the media.

2005-11-15 09:05:43
26.   wsporter
If you look at both George Brett's and Mike Schmidt's statistics (non era adjusted) I think you can make a pretty good argument that A-Rod just experienced a season that surpassed anything Schmidt ever put up offensively and was the at least equal to anything Brett ever did (See 1980) and was the equal of their best years defensively and this wasn't A-Rod's best year overall. I think Brett and Schmidt were the great third basemen of the recent era just passed and had HOF careers. A-Rod is in pretty rarified company. It's a privilege to see something very, very special everyday he plays. I don't think anyone is asking the press to kiss his ass or erect monuments to him. Maybe an honest recognition of what the guy represents in an historical context isn't to much to ask. How many more years does he have to continue to do what he's done to be a HOF lock? Is he there yet? Do I wish we'd win the World Series? Yeah. Am I happy to watch A-Rod with my boy and see him understand how good he is? You bet I am.
2005-11-15 09:34:28
27.   Shawn Clap
You guys are right. A-Rod is one of the greatest Yankees who ever lived and deserves comparisons to Mantle, Ruth, Munson, Jeter and Mariano.

In fact, I'm gonna start a petition so that we can ban Post-Season play, because people want to pay too much attention to that. What really matters are the stats one can get during the 1st 162 games - That's what really counts!

Those play-offs are just too dangerous anyway, with pitchers pitching inside and opposing fans getting so loud with the yelling and chanting - I mean really, it's just too much pressure!!!

Fellas, we're not talking about the Special Olympics here. Not everybody's a winner, alright?

On any given season there's only about 25 guys who have a "great" year. They're the ones dancing around the infield, after everyone else has gone home.

2005-11-15 09:47:33
28.   Simone
How about instead of refering to Lupica by name, we just call him "Gollum?" Sure it is childish, but it is downright appropriate. He has got to be one of the most joyless meanspirited vicious sports writers out there. I mute him whenever I watch the Sports Reporters. He can dish it out, but certainly can't take the same harsh comments when directed at him.

A-Rod was the most MVP this season so screw all the media and critics bitching about him winning the award. Congrats to him.

2005-11-15 10:33:33
29.   Alex Belth
Shawn Clap, you are incorrigible. Let's face it, you hate Rodriguez and likely wouldn't give him his due if he won a championship with the Yankees anyhow. You hate Mattingly too, right? Matsui, Winfield, and all those other Yankee chokers too.
2005-11-15 10:52:53
30.   rbj
Shawn, you have to win enough of those first 162 to get into the playoffs. Your post makes no sense.
Since Ted Williams never won in the post season, he's a sucky player too, right?
2005-11-15 11:11:17
31.   Nick from Washington Heights
Simone, I have begun calling Lupica Gollum. Indeed, many sportswriters bring this cynical joylessness to their work. I find Selena Roberts a decent writer, but am unable to read any of her columns. Her articles are all predictably negative. The same goes for half of New York City's and Boston's sports journalists.
2005-11-15 11:31:41
32.   Shawn Clap
I can't help myself. It's just so much fun to bash A-Rod. I'm a junkie, I admit it. I need help, maybe some sort of ARod-Haters intervention.

If he were on another team, say the Sox, imagine the ripping he'd get here. I just can't bring myself to like him, no matter who he plays for.

There's and endless number of Immortal players who never won the World Series, a few who never even made it there. But at least they had the sense not openly question other players work ethics. Remember the 'when other players are sleeping, I'm training' comment.

Arrgh. How can anybody like this guy?

2005-11-15 11:48:19
33.   Alex Belth
I think there were plenty of reasons not to like other famous players (Ernie Banks, unlce tom, Ted Williams, jerk etc.) and I'm not saying I like A Rod. But I admire him as a player.
2005-11-15 12:13:58
34.   wsporter
Alex:

A serious question: I know this is your Blog, but in terms of maintaining a semi-civil level of discourse why does anyone have the right to refer to anyone else as an Uncle Tom? Given the history of racial attitudes in this country how can we judge anyone's desire to live their life peacefully as did Mr. Banks. The man was born in segregated Dallas Texas in 1931, God only knows the horror he and his family lived there. I really don't think it's for us, sitting here in nice comfy 2005, to judge him in that way. The phrase 'Uncle Tom' has a way of taking on a very ugly meaning. At the risk of lecturing, I think you're better than that. Gotta say dude I think that was specifically not very cool.

2005-11-15 12:35:12
35.   Alex Belth
wsporter. Understood. I didn't mean to seem callous of flippant and of course, who am I to judge. But I do know that guys like Banks and Mays could have helped spur changes for black athletes in the 1960s and chose instead not to rock the boat because well, they were getting theres. Calling Banks an uncle tom is taking things too far I admit, and I was out-of-line in that characterization. Still, there is nothing about his me-first attitude that I find admirable. Maybe I should have cited a guy like Yaz instead.
2005-11-15 12:36:55
36.   Alex Belth
By the way, I've just completed writing a biography of the late Curt Flood, so I've done a considerable amount of research about that era, and am not just talking out of my arse, although the way I phrased that post, it sure seemed like I did.
2005-11-15 12:44:17
37.   wsporter
Alex:

It jut seems to me that unless we can somehow crawl inside their hearts and souls that is a powerful and awful judgment to make. Look, you do a great job with this Blog. I don't mean to attack you. That's just an issue that makes me bristle a little no matter which way the blade is slicing. Thanks for the time.

2005-11-15 12:48:18
38.   Alex Belth
I didn't take your objections personally at all. In fact, your point is duly noted. I value your point of view and think you make a really valid point. And I appreciate your compliments about the site. Thanks.
2005-11-15 13:10:17
39.   wsporter
Not fer nuth'n
2005-11-15 13:15:44
40.   rbj
Settling a disagreement peacefully, with no name calling or rancor? What is the web coming to?
2005-11-15 13:23:43
41.   yankeeVT
YankeeInMichigan,
Brett did have a error in the ninth inning of the deciding game - but the yanks had already taking the lead. Brett's error just cushioned Ny's lead

http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/B10090KCA1977.htm

2005-11-15 13:33:49
42.   Alex Belth
Hey, not for nothing, but is retrosheet like the coolest freakin thing ever or what?
2005-11-15 14:15:38
43.   wsporter
I'm getting a little antsy. Where the hell is the announcement on our left fielder? Christ, home with the flu, this sucks. Come on Brian and Arn I got a lineup to put together. Lets go already. BTW Retrosheet is beyond cool.
2005-11-15 14:20:29
44.   randym77
I saw that Lupica column. I wasn't even sure what he was trying to say, it was so odd and disjointed.

A-Rod doesn't have the charisma of, say, Jeter, but he's not a jerk, either. (Like, say, Terrell Owens.) He has said a few regrettable things in the past, but I give him credit for apologizing and learning from his mistakes.

He does have a tendency to tense up in pressure situations, but it's not because he's mentally weak, or because he's self-centered. It's because there actually is more pressure on him than on anyone else.

2005-11-16 07:52:07
45.   Patrick
I feel the same way.

But, I don't think we should praise A-Rod at the cost of Jeter. That's the same sort of thing that breeds this type of thought. Derek Jeter is different. He's on another level in Yankeedom, as he should be. He's a legend. A-Rod isn't. A-Rod's an amazing, incredibly historic player that is often under appreciated (not in payment, but with fans). But, when balancing out that under appreciation, we don't need to put down Jeter in the meantime.

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