If the New York Yankees fail to win the World Series this year, Alex Rodriguez is going to become Public Enemy #1 in the minds of Yankee fans.
Sure, there will be other culprits if the Yankees fail to advance after leaving Baltimore with the American League division series tied at 1-1. Curtis Granderson, pulling an ARod by getting himself dropped to 8th in the batting order, will be a target (although his easygoing, good nature and ambassador-worthy personality will insulate him to a certain extent). But ARod will bear the brunt of the vitriol from the fans and the media.
If ARod thinks his 2009 postseason performance will insulate him from verbal attack, he is seriously kidding himself. Yankee fans have short memories and are easily frustrated. They are not going to celebrate the fact that ARod helped them win a World Series three years ago. They are going to rue the fact that the man makes nearly $30 million per year and can’t seem to get the ball out of the infield or swing the bat with runners on base. I don’t blame ARod as much for the contract as other baseball fans—the Steinbrenners were the ones foolish enough to give him that massive deal that is now strangling the Yankees payroll. But I do think the fans are entitled to their anger (but not bottle throwing) when ARod doesn’t come through in the clutch, as he hasn’t for the Yankees except for that one postseason.
The Boston Red Sox are too sad to hate these days so Yankee fans are looking for a new villain. It won’t be those annoyingly pesky Baltimore Orioles even if they manage to swipe this series away from the Yankees. The blame will be placed squarely on a guy closer to home, the one that mans third base in the Bronx.