A-Rod’s turnaround lifts MLB

18 10 2009

It’s been said that Alex Rodriguez’s resurgence this October (.368 AVG, 3 HR, 8 RBIs) has removed the black cloud that previously hovered over him in the postseason. There’s no denying that A-Rod’s legacy and mental mindset — as well as the Yankees’ World Series chances — have benefited from his improved production at the dish. What been discounted to some degree is the benefit on Major League Baseball overall.

MLB has done a much better job in recent years at promoting its players. There are the commercials that ran this year in which various players — Grady Sizemore, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Howard — had their life stories and love for the game briefly discussed in 30 second spots. It was a way to personalize the names that most fans might know only from SportsCenter highlights and fantasy lineups.

In A-Rod’s case, no commercials have been needed. He’s not only improved his offensive production; he’s saved his biggest hits for the most important moments. His game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 2 of the ALDS provided the first monumental postseason play in just the second playoff game at New Yankee Stadium. He followed that with a game-tying solo shot in the top of the seventh frame in the following contest. And then last night’s solo jack that tied the game in the bottom of the 11th inning sealed A-Rod’s 2009 reputation as a “clutch” player. (It’s been proven with statistical analysis that there is no such thing as a “clutch” hitter in baseball, but don’t tell that to MLB’s Marketing Department.)

All the A-Rod-related sunny news has been a shot in the arm to MLB. He’s always been a player whom most would think could carry a league. He’s been the game’s best player, or at least somewhere in the top 3, for over a decade, he’s a good looking guy and he plays for the most marketable team in North America, perhaps in the world. Any league, no matter the level in which they promote their players, gains an advantage by having its very best players thrive on its biggest stage.

It means more casual fans become involved because they want to see the big slugger, in this case, take another crack at a pitch in another pressure-soaked moment. For the loyal and die-hard fans who’ve already been watching, it results in more highlights which they’ll register in the baseball-loving part of their brain. We all like to see players come up big when their number is called. But it means a lot more to see it from Alex Rodriguez than from David Eckstein. (He’s likely the worst player to ever win the World Series MVP, which he earned in 2006 for the Cardinals.)

Best of all, there are perhaps more moments to come from A-Rod. The Yankees still have to win six more games to reach their goal of winning a World Series. Now that they lead the ALCS 2-0, they’re guaranteed to see Yankee Stadium again even if the Angels win the next three out in Anaheim. For MLB, that means potentially another dramatic A-Rod play in front of the New Yorkers who were never sure if he’d be able to harness his talent when his team needed it most.

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8 12 2009
Blog Response: 2010 – Year of the Tiger « Takes Juan

[…] who was in the news for his off the field issues than A-Rod? Alleged affair with Madonna, steroids, choke artist. Some post season heroics, a baby on the way with Hollywood sweetheart Kate Hudson. It’s hard […]

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