The Weekly Tail ‘Gater – Has A-Rod Finally Turned the Corner?

Mike Nanna

A-Rod: More than any other player, Alex Rodriguez’s name elicits a varied response worthy of a politician. Some Yankees fans hate him while others love him. There isn’t much room in between.

But with his recent run to the top of the American League leader boards, plenty of media members are asking the $252 million question: Has A-Rod finally won the hearts of Yankee fans? His startling offensive output thus far has only served to fuel the debate, which is understandable considering the fact that he is currently on pace to break both the single season home run and RBI records. This question really wouldn’t need to be asked at all if his critics better understood the prevailing philosophies among Bomber fans these days. In order to comprehend the pointlessness of this question, one needs to examine the nature of a Yankee fan’s feelings on our lip glossed wonder-boy.

Yankee fans can essentially be divided into two groups: A-Rod lovers and haters. The A-Rod lovers are usually easy to spot. Equipped with Starbucks’ cards, designer jeans and frosted tips that would make a young Justin Timberlake jealous, these fans tend to care more about big numbers than big hits. Their bottom line is that production over the long haul is more important than production in just a few October games. These fans usually watch the Yankees consistently throughout the year and know how important he is to winning division titles. A-Rod has never stopped producing in the regular season and that should be all that matters. Plus, he’s delightful to the media and has consistently said all the right things. What’s not to like?

Actually, there’s a lot not to like. For some supposed “die-hard” Yankee fans, a .290-40-120 stat line is not enough (a low estimate that accounts for his “down year” in 2006). These fans tend to either be fair weather fans who believe what they’re told by the media or Yankee-Obsessed maniacs who refuse to accept any logic other than stars are made in October (I tend to fall into the latter camp). These fans have never and will never accept Rodriguez until he makes a big splash in a major playoff series. This can’t be a first round playoff series either. A-Rod needs to come through when he stares down Red Sox closer Jon Papelbon in the last inning of the last game in the ALCS. He will never be considered a “true Yankee” by these fans until he’s getting a curtain call sometime near Halloween time.

In the end, A-Rod’s jaw-dropping April numbers are certainly impressive, but they don’t really mean much to Yankee fans. Whether one is for or against A-Rod, the fact of the matter remains that nothing about what A-Rod is doing right now will change a Yankee fan’s opinion about the man. A-Rod lovers will take his recent outburst as evidence that they were right all along. They’ll say that he’s been doing this for his whole career and that he’ll keep producing until the Yankees are dumb enough to show him the door. They’ll insist that the anti-Rodriguez camp remember his three-homer, 10-RBI game last year and his ninth inning home run off of Curt Schilling in July of 2005.

A-Rod haters will shrug and only change their minds when he’s getting it done in October and winning a World Series ring. It’s that simple. Sure, A-Rod’s offensive explosion has been impressive and fun to watch. Unfortunately, it’s not changing anyone’s mind about the man.