The Giants and Tigers are set for the World Series, and baseball's set for another disappointing finish. If you want to know where it went wrong, it all starts with A-Rod.
Rather than wait for columnists to deliberately bait readers into blind Internet anger, we at SB Nation believe in setting the curve ourselves and doing so honestly. On Troll Tuesdays, we attempt to construct tomorrow's blatant attempt at pageviews today, building the worst inflammatory argument possible one single-spaced sentence at a time. This week's quarry: Alex Rodriguez, ruiner of America.
Another World Series, another World Series without the Yankees.
At least George Steinbrenner isn't here to see this.
The Giants won Game 7 of the NLCS Monday night, and watching them celebrate in the pouring rain made for a wonderful scene. It really did.
But wonderful scenes don't sell, and baseball needs more.
With the Giants and Tigers this week, there's a good chance we're going to be talking about the worst World Series ratings of all time.
That's just reality, and not the kind the Kardashians make.
The Tigers are fine if you like flyover fairy tales, but don't expect the rest of the country to pay attention. The Giants, too--besides Brian Wilson (one of baseball's greatest characters), who draws in the casual fans?
The stars are only as a big as the spotlight, and there's no bigger spotlight than New York City. So as baseball prepares for another lame duck Fall Classic, it's time to start looking for solutions.
Want to save baseball? Want to take the top story back from football?
Start with saving the Yankees.
Want to save the Yankees?
Start with removing the cancer.
This isn't rocket science.
It's been an argument for the past two weeks, and I can already hear the A-Rod apologists a mile away. Maybe he just hit a slump at the wrong time. Maybe he wasn't feeling well, maybe it's not all his fault. Maybe he'll get 'em next time.
Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Since when does the world make excuses for millionaires? We all saw what happened this postseason, and it's nothing new. As ESPN's Darren Rovell reports, the Yankees payroll from 1996-2000 was $393.3 Million. Those Yankees brought 4 World Series trophies.
The payroll's five times bigger, for a quarter of the results. So ... Big salary, small results. Sound familiar? Do the math.
A-Rod's numbers just don't add up.
A while back Sports Illustrated polled players asking them to identify the phoniest player in baseball. "A-Fraud" won going away. He got twice as many votes as the next-phoniest player.
Is anyone surprised?
That's how we got here. Jeter played his heart out, left it all on the field. Shane Victorino came through. Then when the going got tough in Detroit, where was Mr. MVP to lift everyone up?
Isn't that what the Yankees are paying $250 million for? Instead, the no. 1 superstar became a pinch hitter who complained to the media and flirted with fans and turned baseball into a soap opera.
That's when you think you back to that Sports Illustrated poll. Those weren't sportswriters voting. That's other baseball players who think A-Rod's a joke. The playoffs played out like a Field of Dreams sequel for A-Rod and the Yankees.
They built it, and he didn't show up.
Field of Nightmares.
Maybe A-Rod just doesn't get it. Maybe he's not a True Yankee. But however you want to explain it, you can't win when the best player on your team doesn't show up in October. And baseball can't win when the best team goes invisible at playoff time.
While A-Rod was flirting with fans in the stands, the integrity of the game suffered, and we're left with a World Series full of Marco Scutaros. America's pastime is missing the biggest team at the biggest time, and America's changing the channel.
When that happens, we're all losers.
No offense to the Tigers--they're a great team, with a few great players. But watching Miguel Cabrera, you can't help but wonder how much more it would mean if he were doing it in pinstripes. Ditto for Justin Verlander. They're great players now, but put them in the New York, and suddenly they're the biggest players in the universe.
Suddenly America's paying attention.
The Giants are a fun bunch, too. No doubt. But imagine how much more fun they'd be if they were going up against the big, bad Bronx Bombers? They'd be America's Team overnight. Instead they're an afterthought the next two weeks. The Giants aren't a good team against a great team, they're just a good team against another good team. Where's the fun in that?
Don't shoot the messenger here.
Just be honest with yourself.
You won't watch the Series.
Baseball's better when the Yankees are winning.
This year, there's one man to blame for the Yankees losing. No two ways about it. Alex Rodriguez owes George Steinbrenner some answers. Alex Rodriguez owes baseball some answers.
And while America sleeps through another World Series without the Yankees, it's time for the fans in New York to wake up and start asking some tough questions.
If you need A-Fraud?
He'll be dancing with the stars.