Monday, June 16, 2008

Alex Rodriguez- overpaid and............under appreciated?

Let's take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to October during the World Series, when the Red Sox were about to clinch to win a second title in four years. During the eighth inning of the clinching game, Ken Rosenthal, the MLB reporter for Fox tells us about Scott Boras' decision to announce that Alex Rodriguez' was opting out of his contract. This set off a firestorm of fans calling A-Rod a variety of names ( a lot of which were four and five letter words). People were questioning his motives and rightfully so. It was considered selfish and egotistical, all words that I would use to describe it as well. It is safe to say that the fans, especially Yankee fans, were outraged. I was peeved at the "act" as well. That night, being a Yankee fan, I said "To hell with A-Rod.” After the Yankees had said they wouldn't negotiate with him if he opted out, Rodriguez went back to the Yankees looking to re-sign. He claimed he wanted to "finish his career" with the Yankees. All I believe is that this was a ploy to repair his image after the blow up following his ill-timed decision to test the FA waters.

All that being said, Rodriguez came into the season with a chip on his shoulder. He got off to a good start, though nothing compared to his legendary start from last season, then served a stint on the disabled list. Although I really do not like Alex Rodriguez for a variety of reasons ranging from his hypocritical phony nature to his postseason failures, his time OFF the field actually made me appreciate him a lot more than when he is ON the field. As the expression goes, "You don't know what you have until it's gone." I can say now that I was wrong. After the episode of the opting out, I said "The Yankees would be fine without A-Rod, let him go wherever he wants, we don't need him." I don't think I have ever been more wrong in my life, and I have been wrong about PLENTY. When you see Morgan Ensberg on the lineup card, it's enough to make a strong-stomached man's stomach turn in anguish. I'm normally on a high when its time to watch a Yankee game, and during A Rod's time on the DL, that high was normally turned into a scowl once I saw "7. 3B Morgan Ensberg.” I have never appreciated Mr. Rodriguez more than I do right now.

Without Rodriguez in the lineup the Yankees were 6-11 and averaged 3.5 runs per game. Since his return on May 20, the Yankees’ record is 17-9 and the Yankees have averaged 5.69 runs per game. Talk about impact, whew. What his stint on the DL made me realize is that the guy is under appreciated. There are a variety of possible reasons for this: him playing for possibly the most hated team in professional sports, his ego, his personality (him being known as a "diva"), his lack of playoff performance. Whatever it may be, I don't think the guy's talents and production are truly appreciated. He puts up monster numbers every year, he has won two MVPs (he had 530 HRs at age 32). The guy has top end power, he can run, he can field, he has a strong arm. The guy is arguably the best shortstop to ever play the game, and when it's all said and done, he could possibly be the best third baseman to ever play the game, maybe even the best player ever. We already know that he is one of the most skilled players to ever put on a pair of cleats. It will probably take a World Series title, with him playing a primary role, for the general public to appreciate his talents as much as they probably should. We are witnessing one of the greatest athletes ever.

I don't like Alex Rodriguez very much (and probably never will) but I will never underestimate his value, his importance and his production when it comes to the New York Yankees. After watching Morgan Ensberg play third for so long, I wanted to kiss my television and do the cha cha slide when I saw A-Rod's name in the lineup. I may never warm up to A-Rod, but I was wrong about his importance to the Yankees, and will always appreciate him from this point. I don't know how much longer I could take watching Morgan Ensberg at third base.

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