The Askew Slant

Wade Askew

By Wade AskewThe Daily Northwestern

Alex Rodriguez choked in the playoffs. 1-14. No RBIs. Certainly not the numbers of a $250 million player.

If you listen to Yankees fans around thecountry, the Yankees’ loss to the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS was mostly Rodriguez’s fault. Just ignore that Jason Giambi went 1-8, Gary Sheffield 1-12, and Robinson Cano 2-15. Nor is it important that the Yankees gave up 26 runs in four games. Or that the Detroit Tigers are a better team, plain and simple. All that is important is that A-Rod is not a true Yankee and always chokes in crunch time. A modern day Casey At The Bat.

Sadly, one of the best players of a generation, a man who is on pace to hit 835 home runs by the time he is 40 years old, is constantly vilified by his own fans. A-Rod received little love from fans when he was named MVP last year, was called out by a teammate who he outplayed all year, and his team-leading 121 RBI were all forgotten.

So why all the hate against him? Simple: when you sign a contract worth $252 million, you get no slack.

But if you were offered $252 million to play baseball, wouldn’t you accept? A-Rod would have been insane not to accept the contract.

But ever since Rodriguez signed his name on the dotted line, he has gone from a popular bright young star to public enemy number one. And now that he is under the microscope known as New York City, with fans and a media who are critical and who undeniably play favorites, the “enemy” status has gone out of control.

At this point, Rodriguez has as much of a chance of dressing out in pinstripes next year as Chuck Norris in a tutu, no matter what General Manager Brian Cashman says. And it may not be just George Steinbrenner’s decision; who could blame A-Rod if he does not want to return to the Bronx after enduring the constant abuse he has received from the New York media, fans and teammates?

No longer will he have to listen to Jason Giambi complain about his production when A-Rod hit 37 points higher with more RBI and only two fewer home runs than did Giambi. Nor will he be skewered by the media for driving in runs when the team is either too far ahead or too far behind. All the while teammate Derek Jeter is being praised for his role as the team’s relentless leader, never giving up as he refuses to fold at the end of blow-outs.

Given the right change of scenery (the Cubs, perhaps?), A-Rod might not have to deal with his real arch-nemesis: the postseason.

Wade Askew can be reached at [email protected]