Joe Paccione is still deciding if he wants to be a regular contributor to the site, or just someone who makes me post stories for him. Here’s his thoughts on Alex Rodriguez.
I’ll be up front with you: I am an A-rod apologist. Steroids or not, he’s one of the greatest ballplayers I have ever seen. However, ever since he’s joined the Yankees it seems the fans want nothing to do with him. Despite his successes, some outstanding and some moderate, it seems fans will do or say anything to make him uncomfortable and unaccepted. My thoughts on this topic will be saved for a much larger article but the bottom line is this: Melky Mesa cost A-Rod his chance at being a hero.
A-Rod will forever be labeled as a player who cannot deliver in the clutch, so when I see him being robbed of his opportunity to bask in the spotlight and receive the adoration of the fans, I can’t help but feel a little bad for the guy. In the bottom of the 14th inning last Saturday, Mesa was brought in as a pinch runner following an Eric Chavez single. Mesa advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Derek Jeter and after an intentional walk to Ichiro, Rodriguez lined a single to center. The Yankee bench erupted thinking it had finally escaped with a second extra-inning win in two days but Mesa, who five minutes earlier had made his MLB debut, somehow ran over third base on his attempt to score. Thankfully, he had the wherewithal to return to third since everyone on the field noticed his mistake. After a force play at home gave the Yankees their second out, Eduardo Nunez hit a sharp grounder at first baseman Brandon Moss, who couldn’t handle the ball. Ichiro scored, Nunez touched first and the 14-inning affair was over.
Most importantly, the Yankees won the game and Mesa was saved from public ridicule and media crucifiction. But to me, A-Rod lost out on his chance to be the hero. I get that a guy who has a $275 million contract shouldn’t need to be on the back page of the New York Post to feel good about himself but I do in this case. For a guy who is constantly forced to justify his paycheck and is only asking to be well-received by his fans this was an unfortunately lost opportunity. The good thing, though, is that it didn’t seem to bother him. After Ichiro scored the winning run, A-Rod was caught holding Nunez’s head congratulating him and celebrating the win.
There will be a ton of people who read this and think that I’m a moron who doesn’t see that the guy is fake, doesn’t produce and isn’t worthy of someone sticking up for him. And that’s ok. But when his career comes to an end, I’ll remember Saturday’s game as just another opportunity where Rodriguez didn’t get his due.