Courant.com Life without A-Rod, just as you wished Ken Davidoff March 9, 2009 All right, world, you have your chance now. For the next six to nine weeks, you'll get to see what life is like without Alex Rodriguez. You'll view the mighty, regal Yankees, rid of their "albatross." You'll look at Mr. Perfect, Derek Jeter, liberated from the cumbersome task of playing alongside one of the greatest players in baseball history. Based on what people have been saying out there, I'm betting the Yankees go 35-1 while A-Rod rehabilitates from arthroscopic surgery. Well, maybe 34-2. Because, you know, the Yankees are shooting themselves in the foot by not making Joba Chamberlain their setup man. A-Rod gets all sorts of people going all sorts of ways, and among his many effects is this: He's responsible for the biggest wave of stupidity since Homer Simpson lobbied to rid Springfield of bears. Somehow, the belief is now pervading that the Yankees will be better off without A-Rod: That he costs as much in anguish and headaches as he pays in home runs and walks. I don't get it. It doesn't make sense on any level, and the only evidence used to back it up - that the Yankees haven't reached a World Series since they acquired A-Rod - could also be deployed to prove that A-Rod's a heck of a player, but he ain't no Clay Bellinger. Now, let's stipulate: A-Rod is tough, real tough, to like. He's high-maintenance, he has a reputation for not being kind to people beneath him on the food chain, he's impersonal and he inevitably hurts his cause whenever he opens his mouth. Yet there are two areas where he can't be doubted, and they're about as important as it gets when we're evaluating a baseball player: 1) Skills, and 2) Work ethic. Were both aided by his admitted usage of illegal performance-enhancing drugs? Of course. Which very likely puts A-Rod in the majority of ballplayers from his era. Among the cheaters, he was the most versatile, the most durable and the most diligent.
You don't have to respect that. But if you're being honest, you have to acknowledge it. Has he underachieved in the postseason since he joined the Yankees? Sure, although not as much as you might think. If you could surgically remove his October numbers from 2004 through 2007, then install them into the 1996-2001 Yankees, Joe Torre would probably own five or six World Series rings, rather than four. Has he hurt his own cause with his ludicrous stories this spring about the specifics of his PED usage? Unquestionably, although it's not clear what we want from this guy. With his very first public words in the wake of Sports Illustrated's Feb. 7 report that he failed a 2003 drug test, he went further than any of his fellow accused stars. He pleaded guilty to the greater charge of cheating. But enough is enough, already. We had baseball commissioner Bud Selig, whose resume includes enough breaches of integrity to make a politician blush, decreeing that A-Rod "shamed the game," as if Selig were in any position to cast such a judgment. We had people working themselves into a lather because A-Rod dared to offer praise to the Mets' Jose Reyes, his teammate during his brief run for Team Dominican Republic. And we had Jeter, A-Rod's constant frenemy, doing everything he could to avoid saying, without any other agendas, "Alex is my teammate, and I support him, just as I supported Jason Giambi and Roger Clemens during their similar times of adversity." If you recall, Jeter dislocated his left shoulder in the 2003 season opener. The Yankees proceeded to go 25-11 without him, a phenomenal .694 winning percentage. Not a soul said, "Hey, they're better without Jeter!" No, people understood that a) the Yankees had a deep offense, and b) sometimes, freaky things happen for short periods of time. You know that many won't have such perspective if these Yankees get off to a similarly hot start without A-Rod. Nope, it'll be all of the proof they need that this guy is not an asset, despite all appearances, but a liability. If the Yankees do struggle, however, if the new guys can't live up to the expectations and the old guys can't reach back for better days, then perhaps the haters will finally have their question answered. They'll finally realize the old "Be careful what you wish for" axiom. Nah. They'll probably just hate A-Rod all the more for getting injured. Copyright ÂŠ 2009, Newsday Inc.
Good article on A-rod back in March...before he helped carry the yankees to another championship. I still love to root against him.