Monday, October 29, 2007

The curse of a new millennium

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

Numbers have never been so hollow.

Those who worship at the altar of Bill James swear by Major League Baseball’s best regular season player, Alex Rodriguez.

And I really can't argue with that assessment -- The halfwits who spend every waking moment tooling around their fantasy teams are a lot like A-Rod, save the talent, money, looks and concubines.

They say his statistics warrant his elevated reputation -- and by that narrow definition they are right.

You see baseball has become a game all about regular season statistics for those who follow it.

In New York, things are a little different, however. The 162-game schedule is just a glorified exhibition for George Steinbrenner's Yankees. Thirteen consecutive trips to the postseason make October baseball a given in the Bronx.

And now, Alex Rodriguez has helped make losing in October a given in the Bronx. A notorious "Me" guy -- Rodriguez just hasn't figured out that All Star appearances, MVP awards, Gold Gloves -- even division titles mean little to the Yankees.

It's World Series or bust for the Bombers and just like the previous two seasons, "the game's most talented player" failed to help get the Yankees past the first round against an inferior opponent.

You want numbers? Try these on for size. In his last three trips to the postseason, Rodriguez was 7-for-44 with one home run, one double and one run batted in. That homer and RBI came this year in a four-game setback to Cleveland.

And, his followers can add one more statistic to Rodriguez’s bloated resume -- ego.

What kind of self-important clod chooses to announce the decision to opt out of a contract with the World Series going on?

According to the New York Daily News, both Hank and Hal Steinbrenner placed calls to A-Rod to express their desire to have him return to the team.

Baseball’s most classless act failed to return the calls.

"It's clear he didn't want to be a Yankee," Hank Steinbrenner told the newspaper. "He doesn't understand the privilege of being a Yankee on a team where the owners are willing to pay $200 million to put a winning product on the field.

"I don't want anybody on my team that doesn't want to be a Yankee."

To his credit, Rodriguez defined his belief -- money simply means more than championships .So A-Rod will move on and try to destroy a fourth franchise from within.

My best bet is Boston .

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and A-Rod’s agent, Scott Boras, have had a cozy relationship for years. Moreover, Epstein is a numbers guy.

It's almost hard to believe this Red Sox group was once labeled lovable losers. A "cursed" team that went 86 years without a championship. Now, the once moribund franchise doomed to always finish second to the storied Yankees is the gold standard of Major League Baseball, loaded with young talent for a potential dynasty run.

Only A-Rod could screw that up.

And that will be his legacy.

To their credit, the Boston faithful at Coors Field last night issued a preemptive strike. They reportedly gathered behind the dugout and gave Epstein a strict edict by chanting.... “Don’t Sign A-Rod!”

After all, they don’t want another curse.

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