But please, Yankees fans, do not pelt me like the recent relentless New York City rain with silly excuses. Get real. Boil it down. Understand why the Red Sox won last year, and why your Yankees aren't really Yankees anymore.
It's simply because your owner, George Steinbrenner, bet two tons of fool's gold on two superstars whose intangibles will never measure up to their best-in-baseball bodies and talent. The Yankee Stadium stage will always be too big for A-Rod and Randy Johnson.
YOU'RE BASING THAT ON FIVE GAMES -- or in Johnson's case, one lousy start and one great relief appearance. "The stage will always be too big"? What kind of garbage is that? These are two great players with very good postseason histories. Randy Johnson won three games in the World Series against the Yankees -- he had an ERA of 1.04 in 17.1 innings! How is the ALDS stage too big for him?
In pinstripes, A-Rod turns into C-minus-Rod in October. As the ace of the Yankees, the Big Unit came up small (but not Aaron Small) in the pivotal Game 3 against the Angels.
In last year's ALDS against Minnesota, A-Rod OPSed 1.213. In pinstripes. In October. Similar sample size to what he did this year in the ALDS.
Who was writing "A-Rod = Clutch-Rod" articles after that series?
Show me where you, Skip Bayless, predicted that both these guys would shit the bed in the playoffs.
If you could pour whatever is inside Derek Jeter into A-Rod, you would have the greatest baseball player ever.
There's an offensive gay joke here that I'm straining to not write.
But something has always been missing in A-Rod's makeup: mental toughness, guts, whatever it is that allows Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols and Manny Ramirez to make entire teams better. A-Rod doesn't seize the biggest moments. They seize him, often by the throat.
Barry Bonds, up until 2002, was criticized as being one of the worst postseason chokers of all time. Here are his batting averages from three NLDSes and two NLCSes from the years 1990-2000:
For ten years, Barry Bonds performed poorly in October. Then he did something -- regressed to the mean, perhaps, or perhaps he took some magical intangible mental toughness pills that gave him intestinal fortitude -- and he absolutely destroyed the teams he faced in the 2002 playoffs, hitting eight home runs and OPSing three million (I'm estimating).
Then, in 2003, he was terrible in the playoffs again.
Will A-Rod break out in a big way in some future playoff series? If I had to bet, I would bet the house on that happening.
If you could pour whatever is inside Curt Schilling into Randy Johnson, even at 42, you would have the most dominating left-handed pitcher ever.
Randy Johnson is alreadly up there as one of the most dominating left-handed pitchers ever. He's amazing. He has five Cy Young Awards. He's led the league in ERA four times and been second three times. He even has a World Series MVP despite not having "whatever is inside Curt Schilling" (Everquest figurines and hot air)? He's in the conversation with Clemens, Martinez, and Maddux as the greatest pitcher of his generation.
But sure, he's a choker. Right.
But something has always been missing in Johnson's makeup -- big-game confidence, emotional control, whatever it was that Schilling provided Johnson when he pitched the tone-setting games ahead of Johnson as the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in the 2001 World Series. In the biggest moments, Johnson too often has been a psychological powder keg with a short fuse.
Oh my God. Now Schilling is supernaturally infusing Johnson with confidence by pitching in entirely different games from him? I wish he had done that with Matt Clement this year.
The two main reasons the Red Sox finally reversed the curse last season were: (1) they signed Schilling to be their ace and driving force, and (2) they had Ramirez batting cleanup behind David Ortiz.
Thanks to reader Slade Gilmer (I'm not making that name up) for this: Ortiz hit cleanup behind Manny last year. I can't believe I didn't catch that the first time I went through. Here's proof.
Yes, Ortiz has become baseball's most talked-about clutch hitter -- while Manny remains the most chuckled-at goof. But would most pitchers rather pitch to Ortiz or Manny? The answer is Ortiz, who takes amazing advantage of the many mistakes made by pitchers fearing the "goof" on deck.
Ortiz put up a little better numbers this season than Manny -- 148 RBI to 144, and 47 homers to 45. DH Ortiz obviously deserves to be an MVP candidate, even though he rarely plays defense. But in beyond-numbers impact, Manny has always been Boston's MVP.
I thought this article was about A-Rod and Randy Johnson?
The shrewdest move the Yankees could make right now would be pulling off a trade for Manny. Imagine the back-page headline in New York: MANNY-HATTAN.
GREAT REASON TO SIGN SOMEONE.
The Red Sox would be crazy to do it, unless maybe the Yankees would give up Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang, but acquiring Manny could shift the balance of power dramatically.
So could trading for Bonds and DHing him every night.
So could travelling back in time, cryogenically freezing Cap Anson, reviving him in the present day, training him with modern technology and science, injecting him with various strength and vitality serums, and sliding him into first base, allowing Giambi to DH.
I don't know how many times after Yankees-Red Sox games I read in New York papers about how A-Rod or the Unit had earned his pinstripes and proved himself as a "true Yankee."
That, obviously, can be accomplished only in October. Johnson was Mr. September, holding the American League to a .167 average in the final month of the season. Yet Steinbrenner paid him $16 million mostly to win series-turning playoff games.
If I hear anyone say the phrase "true Yankee" in person, I will taser their nutsack.
Also, the Yankees probably don't make the playoffs without Johnson's September.
In the first round of the playoffs, Johnson is 0-7 with a 5.33 ERA in his last eight starts.
In the second round of the playoffs and beyond, Johnson is 5-1 with an ERA under 1.50.
Johnson's partner in Yankee crime? C-minus-Rod, who gave the Angels life in Game 2 by blowing as easy a play as a third baseman can have -- a point-blank Sunday hopper. Yes, it's possible he lost it in the lights. But has Jeter ever lost a high hopper in the lights?
Almost certainly yes. Baseball Reference doesn't have postseason fielding statistics, but I'm going to place a large wager on the fact that Derek Jeter has > 0 errors in his postseason career.
Meanwhile, A-Rod was going 2-for-15 in the series with no homers and no RBI. That makes him 4 for his last 32 in the playoffs, counting last season's collapse against Boston.
I've already gone over this with Tim Keown, Bayless. Scroll down and read that post.
A-Rod's reaction? He "left it all out on the field," he said. He tried his hardest, maybe too hard. He apologized to his teammates.These are the words of a player who has no idea what it takes to win.
Yet this is a guy you wouldn't want in your October foxhole. C-minus-Rod finally made Yankees fans long for the days of a far less talented -- but far more clutch -- Scott Brosius.
Finally. Finally you write what idiots all across Yankeeland are thinking.
Scott Brosius postseason BA /OBP / SLG: .245 / .278 / .418
Scott Brosius ALDS BA / OBP / SLG: .167 / .196 / .259
That's right. In 54 ALDS at bats, Scott Brosius recorded two extra-base hits. Two.
GET HIM IN MY OCTOBER FOXHOLE.
So should manager Joe Torre be blamed for the failings of A-Rod and the Unit? Please.
I've been saying for a month what Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said Wednesday as he left the clubhouse, probably for the last time: "I've been here with Joe for 10 years, and this has been by far the toughest year for him, and it's the best job he's done."
Yes, the best regular-season job. Given all the injuries and aging suffered by his Old York Yankees, Torre deserves consideration for manager of the year.
Steinbrenner pushed for -- and absurdly overpaid for -- three premier free agents without championship intangibles. First it was Jason Giambi, then A-Rod, then Johnson.
**SPECIAL ADDENDUM #2**
As pointed out by reader Bob Hay, A-Rod and Johnson were acquired via trade, not free agency.
One, two, three strikes you're out of luck, George. You built your kingdom on their October quicksand, and now you're paying for it.Please sign Scott Brosius. He'll hit fifty home runs in the playoffs, I promise.
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