By DYLAN MALONE
Alex Rodriguez is the highest paid player in professional baseball. He is also one of the most controversial thanks to the admission to steroids before the 2010 season started.
In 2007, A-Rod signed a ridiculous 10-year $252 million contract with New York. Now, at age 38, Rodriguez is swiftly declining down a path of eeeesh and the Yankees are in the middle of a playoff push.
Last night was the topping on the cake for A-Rod as coach Joe Girardi benched him late in the game for pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez who answered the call by hitting the game-tying home run in ninth inning and then the game-winner in the 12th to beat the Orioles in game three of the divisional series.
You can’t write drama like that in Hollywood.
What a pair of...guts coach Girardi must have to replace your number three hitter late in the game.
“I had a hunch,” the Yankee skipper stated after the game.
A hunch? If A-Rod going 1-13 in the series with seven strikeouts is a hunch, I have a hunch Johnny Depp will be a star some day.
I would have benched him too.
I’m not the Yankee manager, though, and I would not be taking the criticism had Ibanez struck out instead of going yard.
Blame A-Rod’s age if you want to, or blame it on a slump, but his numbers this season have been awful, his play at third base has been sub-par, and his ego is the only thing about him that has stayed unchanged this year.
His playoff implosion culminated last night in his coach pulling him, the highest paid athlete in the league and the number three hitter in the lineup, for a pinch-hitter. No matter how storybook Ibanez’ at-bats ended up or that it could have saved New York’s season, Rodriguez is waving through a meltdown right now.
I’m trying to compare this to other sports meltdowns but I just keep going back to the steroid use. While he admitted it (after years of lying about it), it is just not the same as others who have juiced before because we did not need to speculate about it. Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco. All great hitters who did not admit it until after they were out of the game. Now Alex Rodriguez admits it and we have a whole different sense of him...because he’s still playing (or trying to).
While I know that A-Rod’s situation is not by definition a meltdown, here are a few meltdowns in sports I thought were note-worthy anyway:
Bobby Knight, Ind. Hoosiers, 1985—The infamous chair-toss is one of the most iconic moments in a War and Peace-sized scrapbook of crazy moments presented to us by coach Knight. He holds a spot in this list as a former IU coach. Every time I think about a bad call when coaching Upwards basketball, I consider coach Knight and the option of tossing my seat in disgust at the volunteer referee’s bad judgement.
The Malace at the Palace, Detroit, 2004—Staying local, the famous Pacers/Pistons fight that resulted in the suspension of Ron Artest for an entire season as well as Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson getting hefty fines and suspensions is the epitome of why security guards keep their backs to the court and watch the fans. When someone threw a cup of water at Artest from the eighth row, the Pacer simply went crazy. When Ron Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace, it was rumored that the fan he engaged with at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit that day of the brawl changed his name as well to “Metta Fist With My Face”.
Phil Mickelson, US Open, 2006— Lefty had won two majors in a row entering the Open and had to simply make par on the 18th to secure a third. What does Mickelson do? He shanks the drive into one of the hospitality tents, then his next shot hits a tree, then lands in a bunker with his next shot. Say what you want about meltdowns, Phil’s was epic on the golf course. He lost even the chance at a tie-break with the miscues on 18.
David Beckham, US Soccer, 2007—The soccer world got a shake-up when Beckham decided to join the MLS in 2007 to play for the LA Galaxy. Beckham was supposed to bring in a whole new generation of Americans to the game of soccer but instead, injuries kept the soccer stud from the field for most of his tenure and his play was never as electric as LA likely would have hoped for.