Thursday, October 11, 2012

Great call all around

Call it gutsy, foolish, a no-brainer, Yankee manager Joe Girardi pulling Alex Rodriguez for pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez in the ninth inning of Wednesday night's Game 3 of the AL division series against the Orioles was one of the boldest moves I've ever seen.

The fact that Ibanez hit a pinch-hit, game-tying homer run in the ninth and then won it with another homer in the 12th is irrelevant.

Yes, irrelevant.

We all know how the Alex Rodriguez of 2012 is not the Alex Rodriguez of 2007, 06, 05, 04 ... He is a shell of his once great self.

He does, however, had nearly 650 lifetime homers and was hitting third in the lineup. I know many will argue, and I wouldn't disagree, that he shouldn't be hitting there — if at all — but he was hitting third.

Give Girardi credit for the move. Give Ibanez credit for the heroics. But also give credit to A-Rod for being the teammate he is. He could have very easily been the negative Nelly and pouted and moaned, but there he was celebrating like a high-schooler when Ibanez's shot dropped in the right-field stands.

I know what you're thinking, "well, how is he supposed to react?" Fair point. But he could easily have been sitting stoically in the dugout, or half-heartedly celebrating what could be the pivotal Yankee win this postseason. Anyone remember how he took being dropped to eighth in the lineup in the 2007 playoffs. He even said after Wednesday night's game, he didn't know how the Alex Rodriguez of 10 years ago would react.

I am defending A-Rod a bit because I think he has received too much of the criticism of his lack of production on a team that, right now, has many players not producing. His contract and the fact that people just don't like him hurts him even more in these situations.

That said, Girardi could have played it safe, sent his future Hall of Fame slugger (yes, I believe — steroids and all — he remains a Hall of Famer) up in the ninth to try and tie it. Instead, he bucked conventional wisdom and Ibanez came through.

No matter the outcome, Girardi's call deserves praise.


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