Thursday, July 06, 2006

Why Yankee Fans are Embarassing a Yankee Fan

by Scott Silversten

As a long-time consumer of sports talk radio, I often find myself asking, "Why do I listen to this junk?" Honestly, since the advent of the sports talk format, has there been even one meaningful phone call from a listener in radio land?


There has been one, and it occurred on Monday afternoon during the "Michael Kay Show" on 1050 ESPN Radio in New York. I wish I had the caller’s name, because I would give him all the credit, but I don’t, so hopefully he is out there and will read this column.

The topic of the day was, of course, Alex Rodriguez. Not an hour, let alone a day, goes by in New York in 2006 without a discussion about A-Rod. As an athlete or as a person, the Yankees third baseman is dissected more than your typical frog from high school biology class.

Monday’s debate was if Rodriguez had shown up Alay Soler and the Mets with a little bat flip following his grand slam in the third inning of Sunday’s blowout victory in the Bronx. Just another bit of proof that no matter what he does, A-Rod cannot win with New Yorkers.

Now, it would have been no surprise if the afternoon was filled with Mets fans calling to complain about Rodriguez after their catcher, Paul Lo Duca, seriously overreacted to the minor bat flip. Much like his team’s supporters, Lo Duca was probably just frustrated about the Mets quickly surrendering an early 4-0 lead.

No, the shock of the afternoon was how Kay continued to take calls from Yankees fans who welcomed their chance to knock Rodriguez, not necessarily for the bat flip, but for whatever reason they could find – his failure in clutch situations, his phoniness, his bloated contract, etc.

Then came the one reasonable voice and call, of which I will attempt to paraphrase …

"Michael, I’m the biggest A-Rod fan in the world, and I hope he gets traded. Because it makes me sick to see a player and a person I have so much respect for get treated the way he has been treated in New York. It makes me sad to admit that I’m embarrassed to be a Yankees fan."


And it is here that I reach the point of this column...Yankees fans are an embarrassment. And it makes me sad to admit it, because I’m a Yankees fan myself!

Fans of the Bronx Bombers like to pretend they are more intelligent and more savvy than their counterparts throughout the country, but in truth, the only things that set Yankees supporters apart from other baseball aficionados is that they are more obnoxious, more belligerent and more spoiled than the rest.

The treatment of Rodriguez is just the latest example, but in truth, this has been true of Yankees fans for quite some time. They nearly ran both Tino Martinez and Joe Girardi out of town during the early portions of the 1996 season because they were replacing fan favorites Don Mattingly and Mike Stanley, respectively. Ironically, both Martinez and Girardi would replace their predecessors as huge fan favorites, proving another point … New Yorkers have no patience.

Of course, is there a person alive who didn’t already know that!

Now the target of the wrath is A-Rod, who will forever be blamed for the 2004 loss to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. While it’s true Rodriguez was awful in last year’s Division Series loss to Anaheim, what seems to escape most in Yankeeland is that the team would not have even reached October if not for the contributions of Rodriguez during an MVP campaign.

This year’s debate has been over Rodriguez’s failures in the clutch, but even when he does come up with the big hit – witness last week’s 12th inning, game-winning homer against Atlanta, or Sunday’s grand slam – the admiration and cheers do not last for even a New York minute.

Throughout the nation, everyone else is shaking their head in amazement. They ask, “How can you not like an MVP-caliber player who is on track to be one of the 5-10 best players in baseball history.”

However, what really boggles the mind is the way Rodriguez is knocked for being everything we wish our athletes would become.

Among A-Rod’s faults, according to many, is the fact that’s he’s too nice. I’ll repeat that...people hate Rodriguez because he’s TOO NICE! He’s accommodating to the media, he’s honest about his feelings and insecurities, he goes out of his way to sign autographs. It’s so obvious...HE’S A PHONY!

Are fans serious? While there will always be a disconnect with someone who earns approximately $25 million per year, wouldn’t the sports world be a much better place if all athletes acted in the same manner as Rodriguez. Or would fans quietly prefer a sports world littered with athletes who are jerks and criminals?

Actually, it’s the fans themselves who are the phonies. They will cheer drug users and wife-beaters, steroid cheats or gamblers, but dare you fail in the seventh inning or later, and you will be booed and despised for your failures and deficiencies.

Instead of applauding Rodriguez next time he hits a big homer or makes a great defensive play, fans should try cheering him when he struggles or fails in the clutch. They should cheer him for being everything we want our athletes to be, a role model that children can actually look up to and admire.

Scott Silversten's column, "Age of Reason", appears ever Thursday


Anonymous Steve K - NJ said...

While I agree, NY fans have been very harsh with A-Rod, it has not been without merit. Here's a man with unbelievable stats, but when it comes to clutch time, he notoriously chokes. It's not just this year, but it's now 3 years running. I for one, think A-Rod will NEVER make a team better than they are. In Seattle, he put up gaudy numbers, but it was first Griffey and then Suzuki who actually were the keys to the team, and eventually, the teams choked out of playoffs despite his gaudy numbers. Then he goes to Texas, and they finish in last place, even though he puts up MORE gaudy numbers. I for one, was rooting for Boston to take him, because I KNEW this was the kind of player he was. I was giving it to all the Bosox fans when that was about to happen. So, instead, he goes to the Yanks, who, have NOT improved despite him being there. Choking (and him choking) against Boston in 2004 and then again last year doing NOTHING in the playoffs despite MVP season (and I maintain, that if Ortiz played 80 games at 1B he's the MVP last year). Now he continues to not hit in the clutch, especially when the team needed him to come through with all the team injuries. Now he's finally gotten a few big hits and we should now give him a standing O? In my eyes, he needs to do 2, continue to hit in the clutch OFTEN, and 2 have a great playoff, win or lose, with some big hits. Do I think they Yanks would have still won without him (and don't forget, they gave up Soriano for him), YES. Matsui, Sheffield, Giambi, Jeter and Soriano is STILL quite a lineup. And they probably would have found someone else to play 3B besides A-Rod and he would have been decent. So, you can defend him all you want, and look at his gaudy numbers and say he's one of the all time greats, but to me, until he consistantly delivers when it matters, he's not the kind of Yankee I want.

Thursday, July 06, 2006  
Blogger j-bird said...

amen. i have been saying this about yankees fans and yankees in general for years. go red sox!

Thursday, July 06, 2006  
Blogger Les Grant said...

“However, what really boggles the mind is the way Rodriguez is knocked for being everything we wish our athletes would become.”

That’s it exactly. And one way A-Rod gets bashed by fans like Steve K is that he is held to a ridiculous standard. When fans say A-Rod isn’t clutch, the question that arises is ‘Compared to who?’ If you compare A-Rod to David Ortiz, someone who is universally considered to be Mr. Clutch, you will see that A-Rod’s lifetime RISP is better as well as his lifetime ‘men on with 2 outs’. There is certainly enough statistical evidence to support the notion that A-Rod is just as ‘clutch’ as Ortiz. But don’t tell that to the haters out there. It’s truly sad and embarrassing for us Yankee fans. (BTW Ortiz did not play 80 games at 1st not by coincidence but because he sucks in the field, thereby making him half of a ballplayer and not an MVP.)

And Steve, if you recall, Soriano flailed in his last post-season run with the Yanks, as he struck out repeatedly on the low and away breaking pitch. So don’t talk about how A-Rod isn’t clutch and then bring up Sori.

“And they probably would have found someone else to play 3B besides A-Rod and he would have been decent.”

Again, no comparison. Toss out some names that were available at that time and we’ll match them (plus Sori’s numbers at the time) up with one of the top ten greatest players of all time in A-Rod and you’ll see exactly how retarded that statement is. If you think Rodriquez is the source of Yankee failures over the past two years then you must be only TIVOing his at-bats in the late innings and ignoring the total lack of pitching and ridiculous amount of injuries that the team has suffered over the past two seasons. Seriously.

Sorry, but Wang, Small, Wright, Chacon and a spent Randy Johnson are not going to get the Yankees to a World Series, much less win one. A-Rod was not able to power the Rangers to the playoffs with crappy pitching and he won’t be the savoir for the Yankees either.

Now I understand how NYers booed Babe Ruth at one time.

Thursday, July 06, 2006  

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