It's sobering to think about it, considering the huge amount of bad press Alex Rodriguez has garnered since coming to New York eight seasons ago. In
fact, by the standards of Yankees superstar history, Rodriguez's behavior seems almost schoolboyish. Just what crimes, exactly, has Alex Rodriguez been
None, really. In fact, just about everything you've heard about his transgressions is either exaggerated or just plain wrong. Let's start with the
taint that followed him to New York: the curse of the ten-year, $252 million contract. Legend has it that the deal put Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks in
a financial hole that it took the team years to dig out of.
Hicks did screw up the Rangers' finances, but it didn't have anything to do with A-Rod. For some reason, the media has usually chosen to overlook the
fact that the Rangers, just prior to acquiring Rodriguez, negotiated a ten-year, $250 million cable agreement hooked to the team's signing a major
Latin star, their research having determined that Hispanics were a huge, largely untapped market for cable.
What Hicks did was make the cable deal and pass on the money to Rodriguez while signing baseball's biggest gate attraction, and then reap the profits
from ticket sales and merchandise.
Oh, by the way, the Steinbrenners picked up A-Rod from the Rangers at a bargain price. They only had to pay half his salary, with Hicks picking up the
balance. How much of a bargain was that for the Yankees? Think of it this way: Derek Jeter, who's never approached A-Rod's production at the plate or
in the field, has cost the Yankees more than Rodriguez, and now the Yankees are stuck with Jeter in his rapidly declining years.
Second, there is the rap that has plagued A-Rod since his first Yankees playoff game—the idea that he doesn't show up in the big games. Bill
James has observed that once a player gets a reputation as a clutch hitter, he never seems to lose it. The inverse also seems to be true: When a guy
becomes known—rightly or wrongly—for not being able to hit in the most important games, nothing he does can ever seem to dispel that
In A-rod's case, however, the numbers just don't support the reputation: In 63 World Series and playoff games and 231 at-bats, Rodriguez has hit .290
with 13 home runs for a .396 on-base percentage and a .528 slugging average.
Let's compare his postseason performance with Reggie Jackson's: 77 games, 281 at-bats, .278 BA, 18 home runs, .358 OBP, and .527 SLG. Reggie's fame as
"Mr. October" is based essentially on one World Series, 1977, where he hit five home runs against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and probably on a single
game in that Series, when he hit three home runs. Even counting those legendary games, A-Rod has higher batting average, OBP and SLG than Mr. October.