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Had William Shakespeare been a baseball fan, he might have penned the following words:
O, beware my lord, of jealousy!
It is the pinstriped monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.
Why do Yankee fans boo Alex Rodriguez?† The simplest answer is because theyíre spoiled and donít like to share their success with anyone else.† Having the second-best shortstop of this generation isnít enough, just like winning 27 World Series isnít enough.† Of course, the simple answer isnít enough to justify my name on the byline.
Three years ago, George Steinbrenner one-upped the boys in
Beantown by stealing Alex Rodriguez out from under John Henryís nose.† The Yankees even got him at the bargain price
$16 million per year.† In the rush to
Over the past three years, third baseman Alex Rodriguez has batted .299/.396/.549, averaging a contribution of 10 wins to the Yankees over each of the past three seasons.† Jeter?† Heís had three of the best years of his career, primarily because his defense has gone from horrible to above average.† Jeter has long been a punching bag for the sabermetric community when discussing the relative merits of fielding statistics.† Itís not that his detractors donít like him personally, but that the numbers simply bear out that Jeter isnít the fielding wiz Yankee fans believe him to be.† A similar criticism has risen of Jeterís reputation as a ďclutchĒ hitter over the years.† By comparison, many of the same people criticizing Jeter on these points have long claimed that Alex Rodriguez was the best player in the league.† If youíre a Yankee fan, few things approach apostasy closer than that.
Is there really any legitimate criticism of A-Rod, though?† How about blaming the Yankeesí post-season failures in 2004 and 2005 on Rodriguez?† Nope.† Canít do that.† A-Rod batted .277/.390/.508 in the 16 games the Yankees played during the past two post-seasons.† Jeter?† Almost the same at .271/.346/.429. †A-Rod had more runs, more extra base hits, more walks and more total bases in fewer plate appearances.† Additionally, A-Rod was the de facto MVP of the 2004 ALDS.† Blaming Rodriguez for the lack of World Series victories these past two years is both fallacious and insincere.
Jeter may win this yearís AL MVP Award, but A-Rod won it last year.† So what if he had a few throwing errors this season?† To hear Yankee fans drone on, youíd think A-Rod is the second coming of Chuck Knoblauch.† While his defense has gone from gold-glove caliber at short to below average at third, A-Rod continues to out-hit Jeter season after season and this year was no different.
Would Yankee fans rather have Alfonso Soriano back?† I hope not.†
Despite his career year in
Today, Jeter has four rings while A-Rod still lusts for his first.† But Rodriguez is the greatest shortstop of his era, arguably the best in history; he owns two MVP Awards to prove it.† Yankee fans were insulted by the idea of A-Rod replacing their beloved Jeter at short, which is exactly what should have happened when they acquired him.† Jeter could have played second base or center field.† Instead they wasted a gold-glove caliber shortstop at third base.† Whatís easier to find on the free agent market?† A third or second baseman who can hit well?† (One hint, Yankee fans: itís the one who doesnít play up the middle.)† The decision made to put A-Rod at third was not a baseball decision; it was a personnel decision.† Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman and Joe Torre chose symbolism over substance.
The Yankees will never be A-Rodís team, no matter how well
he plays or what records he breaks.†
Why?† Because no matter what A-Rod
does, he canít be Derek Jeter.† Notice I
didnít say he couldnít be a better player
than Jeter Ė he has been all along Ė but that he couldnít be Derek Jeter.† Itís
Not only will everything that A-Rod accomplishes in
None of this is about Alex Rodriguez.† Itís about Yankee fans.† Itís about their harbored illusion that the face of their franchise is the greatest shortstop of his generation.† This isnít about A-Rod at all.† Itís about the insecurity of people who cheer on the most accomplished team in professional sports.
So itís not that Rodriguez had a poor showing in the field this year.† Itís not that Jeter had a career year and could possibly win his first MVP (and you know Yankee fans will be rabid if he doesnít).† Itís not that Rodriguez isnít an all-star caliber hitter.† Itís not that Rodriguez has a quarter-billion dollar contract.† Alex Rodriguez is being judged, not for what he is Ė a future Hall of Famer in the prime of his career Ė but for what he isnít: Derek Jeter.