x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A New York state of mind

The New York Yankees collapse starts with Alex Rodriguez but adds up to something rotten in the Big Apple, writes Carroll Rogers.

Alex Rodriguez, right, received the lion's share of the criticism for his hitting woes in the post-season, but he was not the only Yankees slugger to swing and miss more than they connected.
Alex Rodriguez, right, received the lion's share of the criticism for his hitting woes in the post-season, but he was not the only Yankees slugger to swing and miss more than they connected.

As dominant as the New York Yankees have been in Octobers over the years their trip to the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers this month was as futile.

The Yankees did not lead at any point during the four-game rout.

They were swept in a best-of-seven post-season contest for the first time since the 1976 World Series.

And they hit only .157 as a team.

That is only scratching the surface. Derek Jeter, the shortstop and captain, broke his ankle and faces surgery and four to five months of rehabilitation.

Yankee Stadium failed to sell out throughout the crucial play-off campaign.

And the Yankees, who pride themselves on an aura of professionalism, faced a steady stream of embarrassing publicity surrounding the struggling third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

What began as a story about his issues at the plate devolved into tabloid fodder when the New York Post reported that Rodriguez had sent a flirtatious note to a swimsuit model in the stands during the ninth inning of Game 1, after he had just been removed from the game.

Before the series was up, Rodriguez's name had surfaced in trade rumours linking him to the Miami Marlins, almost unprecedented for the superstar of a team in the midst of the post-season.

Whether it was his behaviour or his slump, Rodriguez was out of the line-up for the final two games against Detroit. He finished the post-season 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitchers.

"If I'm playing my game, Joe [Girardi, the manager] has no choice but to play me," Rodriguez acknowledged. "If I'm not playing my game then he's open for options.

"I've got to look in the mirror."

The trouble was, Rodriguez was hardly alone.

Curtis Granderson went 3-for-30 with 16 strikeouts in the post-season, including a record 0-for-29 streak. Nick Swisher was 5-for-30.

Robinson Cano went 3-for-40.

Overall, a Yankees offence which scored the second most runs in the majors this season scored only six runs in 39 innings against the Tigers, and four of those came in one inning - the ninth of Game 1.

The Yankees, who averaged 4.96 runs per game during the regular season, averaged only 2.4 runs in the post-season.

The whole thing was very, well, un-Yankee like.

"The last two weeks were very difficult for everyone," Rodriguez said.

"Since I've been here in my nine years I don't think there was a period where everybody struggled at the same time."

As for his own struggles and what they mean, Rodriguez said he expects to return to the Yankees next season.

"My plan is to be here," he said. "I have a lot to prove. And I'll come back on a mission."

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