BOSTON (CBS) — There’s really no denying that these aren’t the best of days for Boston sports fans. The Patriots look good, but they play just once a week. The Red Sox aren’t involved in October baseball, the Celtics haven’t started up yet and Bruins players aren’t allowed in their own building. There’s just not too much going on.
Yet while there’s not a ton of sports to root for in Boston, there’s still plenty to root against.
I’m talking about you, Alex Rodriguez.
The Yankees’ “star” third baseman has been featured on every back page in the City for his postseason woes, which now have him batting .125 through four games against the Orioles. He’s 2-for-16, has zero extra-base hits, zero RBIs and an unbelievable nine strikeouts, which account for 50 percent of his postseason plate appearances.
The past two nights certainly haven’t been banner evenings for the 37-year-old. On Thursday night, with runners on second and third and one out in the bottom of the eighth inning of a 1-1 game, A-Rod swung and missed at the first pitch, swung and missed at the second pitch, took the third pitch for a ball and then swung and missed at the fourth pitch, receiving a shower of boos from the angry home fans on his long, lonely walk back to the dugout.
Manager Joe Girardi, apparently no longer interested in watching his $29 million third baseman play anymore, pinch hit for him in the bottom of the 13th inning, with the Yankees trailing 2-1 and needing a solo homer to tie the game. Girardi sent Eric Chavez, his $1 million man, to the plate instead, and A-Rod watched from the dugout as Chavez lined out to end the game.
“Chavez had a good at-bat,” A-Rod said after the loss, which forced a Game 5 on Friday evening. “He hit the ball hard to [Manny] Machado at third. Just trying to string good at-bats together to win the game.”
Of course, that’s the second time in as many days that Girardi has opted to take the bat out of A-Rod’s hands. On Wednesday night, it proved to be a brilliant decision, with Raul Ibanez launching a game-tying homer in the ninth and then the game-winning homer in extra innings.
Such a situation obviously puts Rodriguez in a difficult spot. If he complains about being substituted, then he looks selfish. If he says he’s OK with being taken out of the season’s most important games, then millions of people are going to question his dedication and competitiveness.
So while A-Rod, who is owed $114 million from 2013-17, may not be speaking out against his new-found role on the bench, another athlete whom Boston sports fans love to hate is doing it for him.
Oh, why hello there, Kobe Bryant.
The 34-year-old Lakers star is gearing up for what he’s saying could be his second-to-last season in the NBA, and he’s decided to spend much of that preparation time discussing … how much he dislikes Smush Parker. If you don’t remember, Smush is the pride of Fordham University in the Bronx, eventually making the NBA and spending two seasons with the Lakers from 2005-07. Kobe singled out Smush as being “the worst” when talking with reporters this week.
“He shouldn’t have been in the NBA but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. So we let him walk on,” Bryant told The Orange County Register. “I almost won an MVP with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown on my team. I was shooting 45 times a game. What was I supposed to do? Pass it to Chris Mihm or Kwame Brown?”
With all-stars like Dwight Howard and Steve Nash surrounding him, making for a positive outlook this season, Bryant chose an odd time to lash out at teammates of yesteryear for their lack of talent.
Fortunately though, Kobe’s concerns stretch far beyond former teammates, as he’s very much in tune with the goings-on at Yankee Stadium. Bryant feels a kinship with fellow superstar A-Rod, and Kobe didn’t enjoy seeing his buddy benched … even though it led directly to a Yankees playoff victory.
“I don’t like that,” Bryant, without a smile, told ESPN’s Arash Markazi. “That’s not good for the chemistry of the team. I’m going to have to call A-Rod.”
Most people would consider a come-from-behind playoff victory good for team morale, but for a me-first guy like Kobe, a coach should never substitute his stars. He does have a point, though, as Bryant would be sure to kill the chemistry of any team he’s on if he were ever to be seated on the bench during crunch time.
Both players, neither of whom are very well liked on the streets of Boston, have shown who they truly are this week. Rodriguez is the guy that, if you take out his aberrational 2009 postseason, has hit .213 in the playoffs as a Yankee with just four home runs, 15 RBIs and a whopping 43 strikeouts in 42 games. Bryant is the guy who doesn’t understand moves made for the good of the team and thinks they’re wrong even after they prove to be correct.
Boston fans don’t have too much going on for six days out of the week, but they can at least know their beliefs about A-Rod and Kobe are as true as ever.