• Lupica: Blame A-Rod As He Set The Bar

    Posted by on October 24th, 2007 · Comments (17)

    From Mike Lupica

    Understand: If the Yankees allow him to break the Bank of Steinbrenner as a way of keeping him away from free agency, they are not just saying that he stays on as their third baseman and cleanup man and top run producer. It is so much more than that, both realistically and symbolically.

    Pay A-Rod this way and they are officially making him the centerpiece of their franchise and the face of their franchise for the next decade.

    It won’t be Derek Jeter, won’t be the new manager and won’t be Joba Chamberlain. It will be A-Rod, who puts up huge numbers except at the time of year when the greatness of the New York Yankees has been grandly defined. Bucky Dent has a more impressive October résumé with one swing.

    People say A-Rod’s not the only one who let the Yankees down. He’s not. But he’s the guy routinely called the best player in the game, the one who’s supposed to break the all-time home run record someday, the one who is obsessed, along with Boras, with breaking contract records.

    The bar is supposed to be set higher for him.

    And yet his numbers are so low in the last three postseasons and when the Yankees began to fall apart against the Red Sox in 2004 that you need to scrape them off the bottom of shoes. The first six guys in the Red Sox batting order all did more for their team against the Indians than A-Rod has done for the Yankees lately.

    The one thing that Mike does raise here, that is interesting to me, is the notion of Alex, if he stays, becoming “the face of their franchise for the next decade.”

    As Yankees fans, are you cool with that? I’m not sure that I can say, now, that it’s an idea that thrills me.

    Comments on Lupica: Blame A-Rod As He Set The Bar

    1. Andrew
      October 24th, 2007 | 10:12 am

      Would I be ‘cool’ with having a guy who will go down as one of the best to ever play the game, as the face of the Yankees for a period of time?

      Uh, yeah.

    2. jonm
      October 24th, 2007 | 10:18 am

      I see what you mean, Steve.

      But, I do not accept Lupica’s silly premise (big surprise: me finding Lupica’s work to be nonsense).

      It seems to me that we, the fans, have some say in who is “the face of the franchise” (whatever that means). Lupica makes it sound as if this decision is solely the province of the Yankees’ CFO and accounting department.

    3. jonm
      October 24th, 2007 | 10:27 am

      And who was the Yankees’ “face of the franchise” in the 1980s?
      Don Mattingly or Dave Winfield

      I think that we all know the answer to that and it had nothing to do with their salaries/contracts.

    4. wally26
      October 24th, 2007 | 11:26 am

      This is a really good question, really because Arod is not a likeable guy. He gets paid the most money, seems to say the wrong thing in the press everytime, and has yet to deliver in October. The Yankee teams that won championships did not have as much of a superstar as Arod. On the surface, he seems to have the need to be “the guy” and maybe this new contract gives him that satisfaction. The other question is what does this do to Jeter who will have a lesser role in being the face of the franchise? I hope this year’s ALDS is not an early indication that he has a problem with it…

    5. D. Baseball 23
      October 24th, 2007 | 12:28 pm

      The face of the Yankees is loyal and does what it takes to do what’s best for the team. These are qualities that Alex, Cynthia, and Boras talk about every night at dinner.

    6. Lee Sinins
      October 24th, 2007 | 12:35 pm

      I’m going with Andrew’s answer, word for word.

      But, I’m also going to add to it. I don’t see any reason not to expect Rodriguez to help the Yankees add to their 28 World Championships, by my standards, and 26 World Series titles. And, even if he doesn’t, he’s still going to provide a lot of employment in the attempts.

    7. MJ
      October 24th, 2007 | 12:42 pm

      To Lupica: “Dent has a more impressive October résumé with one swing.” I assume the reference to “one swing” means Dent’s homer in the 163rd game of the 1978 season which, while technically in October (played October 2nd), isn’t actually “October baseball.” “October baseball” usually connotes the MLB playoffs. I hate it when writers bend realities to make their points.

      To JonM: I couldn’t agree with you more re: Donnie/Winfield.

      To Wally26: “because Arod is not a likeable guy. He gets paid the most money, seems to say the wrong thing in the press everytime…” In your opinion, maybe. I actually find A-Rod to be very likeable. And I think he did a far better job of managing his relationship with the press this year. That he gets paid the most money is something you’d have to talk to the Texas Rangers about.

      I don’t think of players in terms of “faces” or stuff like that. Does it really matter how you associate a player and a team? It’s never mattered much to me, as long as players don’t break laws and drag the team down in ugly behavior off the field. Who says a team needs to have a “face” anyway? Who’s the face of the Los Angeles Dodgers? Nomar? Furcal? Kent? They’re the Dodgers, just like we’re the Yankees. It hardly matters.

    8. j
      October 24th, 2007 | 12:55 pm

      “It seems to me that we, the fans, have some say in who is “the face of the franchise” (whatever that means)”

      This is the crux of Lupica’s entire article, and is what every sports writer does not realize.

      When he says that Alex is going to be ‘the face of the franchise’, he doesn’t realize that what he means is that HE will be the one making Alex the face of the franchise by writing every article about him and twisting and turning it into a story. I love (hate) how these idiot sportswriters think that they’re just reporting what’s really happening, when it actuality, they’re making it up as they go along trying to fit facts from a game into a storyline that they come up with. Lupica does this for a living. George King, Joel Sherman, as well.

      And the Yankees being slammed by the press over Torre is probably the biggest reason the fanbase is upset over it.. and it has everything to do with the fact that when these guys go to interview Joe, Joe is courteous and treats them with respect. Of course they’re going to stick up for him.

    9. Zack
      October 24th, 2007 | 12:58 pm

      And to add to all that, do any of you really think Derek Jeter is a likable guy? I sure don’t. In the past five or so years he has come across more and more as smug, self-interested, somewhat smarmy, and an all-together not very good captain. Whenever he seems to be needed to actually represent the team off the field, he backs away. He didn’t help A-Rod, he only late came out with a generic statement about Torre that didn’t support the team, he hasn’t endorsed Jo/Mo returning, or A-Rod for that matter, he has been partying like Brittney etc etc etc.

      Still, he’s the “face” of the franchise (for now: lets be honest, Hughes and Joba will be by years end, as DJ is getting old and doesn’t have the appeal to kids that made him the face). I have come to like A-Rod A LOT more this past year, and if he stays, I have no problem considering him the force, because lets be honest, he already has been: he gets more media attention, locally and nationally, carried the team this year etc..

    10. MJ
      October 24th, 2007 | 1:00 pm

      “And the Yankees being slammed by the press over Torre is probably the biggest reason the fanbase is upset over it…”

      I can’t entirely agree with that. There’s no question that the sports media plays a perversely large role in shaping opinion and that, when they beat the same drum for months, fans tend to adopt that rhythm after a while. But you’re also discounting an individual’s ability to make up his own mind. I was upset with how the Torre played out and certainly not for the reason that the Daily News told me to be.

    11. rbj
      October 24th, 2007 | 1:16 pm

      I’m with Andrew (and not just because my middle name is Andrew). It doesn’t much matter how one guy swings the bat if others aren’t and the starting pitching stinks.

    12. SteveB
      October 24th, 2007 | 1:41 pm

      A-Rod will be the face of the Yankees, huh? Of all the Yankees stuff Lupica wrote this year, which player do you want to bet got the most attention. I’ll bet you $252 million that it was A-Rod.

      A-Rod is ALREADY the face of the Yankees for Pete’s sake, aaaaand, why shouldn’t he be? Jeter is awesome, but he is so much less awesome than A-Rod that it’s silly. The fact that there are people in the world who think that Jeter is a better baseball player than Alex is flat out insane.

      This is more ridiculous pot stirring nonsense from Loopy-ca.

    13. SteveB
      October 24th, 2007 | 1:44 pm

      Also: Please define “the face of the franchise.” What the hell does that even mean anyway?

    14. Don
      October 24th, 2007 | 1:51 pm

      The point that Lupica is really making, and one that, as far as I know, was first broached by myself, is that if Alex remains, it wil become increasingly all about, well, Alex.

      The 600th HR.

      The 3000th hit.

      The 700th HR.

      The Bonds [phony] HR record.

      Ad nauseum.

      In other words, the big top, the three ring circus. I’ll be happy to see the three ring circus plant its tents in another town. Let somebody else sweep up the elephant dung.

    15. MJ
      October 24th, 2007 | 2:58 pm

      Was A-Rod’s 500th HR a distraction to the team this year? Was he really a distraction to the team this year? From what I could tell, the team really rallied around him from the first day of the year and, the stripper/HA! incidents notwithstanding, A-Rod was a model citizen and THE KEY MAN on the 2007 Yankees.

    16. j
      October 24th, 2007 | 3:18 pm

      “I can’t entirely agree with that”

      Perhaps I should have better described the fanbase I was referring to.. it’s hard to argue that a large majority of Yankee fans get their news about the Yankees from the Daily News, New York Post and/or ESPN. In my opinion, this is what leads to that large marjority thinking

      (1) ARod is and has always been ‘unclutch’, resulting in his being constantly booed in 2006
      (2) Torre was completely wronged by the Yankees
      (3) Derek Jeter can do no wrong
      (4) Derek Jeter is a strong defensive short stop

      I guess my rant is more about the fallacy of third party objectiveness that idiots like Lupica claim to have. If it’s his opinion, that’s fine, but he should make it plainly obvious, if only so those of us with independently funcitoning brains don’t have to sit next to somene who thinks it is a fact that Miguel Cairo should bat second because doing the little things is important.

    17. MJ
      October 24th, 2007 | 4:02 pm

      OK, I’ll definitely agree with that. Casual fans or “average joe” fans definitely take their cues from Lupica, Sherman, and WFAN. I like to think that those Yankee fans who hang out online at WW, RLYW, or BB are more well informed and independent-minded.

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