Two Raul Ibanez home runs lifted the New York Yankees to an extra-inning win in Game 3 of the 2012 ALDS.
But on the same night, Alex Rodriguez may have confirmed that he is baseball's weakest big-game superstar. Ever.
Manager Joe Girardi came to terms with the slugger's postseason ineptitude just in time. With the team trailing, he inserted Ibanez as a pinch-hitter, even though his lifetime .233/.287/.375 triple-slash line in the playoffs was pretty underwhelming, too.
That substitution was an all-time embarrassing moment for A-Rod.
We'll delve deeper into his October/November history after considering several MLB legends who similarly choked in pressured situations.
The Hall of Fame speedster fueled "The Big Red Machine" for much of the 1970s.
However, Joe Morgan was a major liability every autumn, particularly in the face of elimination.
In Game 7 of the 1972 World Series, he grounded into a double play and was caught stealing as the Cincinnati Reds suffered a one-run defeat. Also, he has the distinction of being the only starting position player on the 1980 Houston Astros who did not reach base in the winner-take-all game of that crazy NLCS.
Morgan maintained a measly .182 batting average in 50 career postseason contests.
Perhaps growing up in the warm Georgia climate made Kevin Brown reluctant to adjust to colder temperatures. Or maybe he just lacked the clutch gene.
For whatever reason, Brown regressed from the regular season to the playoffs and from the earlier rounds to the later rounds.
He sported a winless record and a 6.04 earned run average in the Fall Classic (a noticeable contrast from his 211-144 mark and 3.28 ERA during the regular season).
Of course, the right-hander's final postseason appearance was his weakest. Trusted to prevent the Boston Red Sox from completing their improbable comeback in the 2004 ALCS, he was hammered in Game 7 (1.1 IP, 5 ER) and removed after 44 pitches.
He'll feel mighty guilty if the Cincinnati Reds wind up losing the NLDS on Thursday afternoon. Scott Rolen botched a potential inning-ending grounder in Game 3 that allowed the go-ahead run to score, giving the Giants' new life in the 2012 postseason. The error was inexcusable for someone of his immaculate defensive reputation.
Also, Rolen's bat has failed to meet expectations in the past. He was completely hitless in the '04 World Series and 1-for-11 with eight strikeouts when the Reds were swept by the Philadelphia Phillies two years ago.
But the weakest superstar? Alex Rodriguez
Relative to his extraordinary, once-in-a-generation talent, A-Rod has underachieved worse than any of these candidates when it matters most.
We cannot forget 2009, when his 1.308 OPS led the Yankees to their 27th—and most recent—MLB championship. Rodriguez was an invaluable asset during those playoffs.
But vindication is temporary in professional sports, which is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sort of industry. Those who are annually in contention are never condoned for poor performance.
One of the most accomplished power hitters in baseball history has slugged below .200 in four playoff series since 2010...and earned $94 million (via Baseball-Reference.com).
Chew on that for a bit.
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