Alex Rodriguez forced exodus from playing the game of baseball, similar to his entire career, has been controversial. Throughout his career, Arod has been suspended for using steroids, filed lawsuits against his employer, the New York Yankees, and union, the MLBPA, and has been the object of scorn for many baseball fans.
As it is scripted now, Rodriguez, who is now 41, has a batting average a shade over the Mendoza line at .204 and diminished defensive skills. He will play his last baseball on Aug. 12th, 2016 at Yankee Stadium. While the crowd reaction is yet to be known, there still was a bright moment in A-Rod’s career during the 2009 postseason when all of Rodriguez's professional goals came to fruition.
Entering the 2009 postseason, Rodriguez was criticized for not performing in the postseason while wearing the pinstripes and the numbers do not lie. In 2005, 2006, and 2007 divisional series A-Rod hit .159 with only one home run and one RBI over 13 games. Compounding the poor play was the Yankees inability to make it out of the divisional round and when the Yankees lose Arod received blame.
The script was flipped in 2009 as Rodriguez carried the Yankees in October to the clubs 27th World Series title. In the divisional series against the Minnesota Twins, A-Rod’s first clutch hit came in the bottom of the 9th of Game 2 with the Yankees trailing 3-1 with Mark Teixeira on first. Rodriguez took the Joe Nathan pitch over the centerfield wall and was able to tie the game that was eventually won by the Bronx Bombers when Teixeira hit a walk-off home run in the 11th. Game 3 was less dramatic as Rodriguez hit the game-tying home run in the 7th inning in what turned out to be the series-clinching win for the Yankees.
In the American League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the 2nd game of the series was when A-Rod delivered. It was the bottom of the 11th inning and the Yankees were trailing 3-2 after Chone Figgins drove in Garry Matthews Jr. with a RBI single. Rodriguez kept the Yanks alive when he took a Brian Fuentes pitch out of the ballpark and which tied the game that was won by New York in the bottom of the 13th. Rodriguez hit .429 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI in the six-game series and if not for CC Sabathia winning two games A-Rod could have been Series MVP.
Finally, Rodriguez was in the World Series with him be the driving force of the Yankee offense where they faced the Philadelphia Phillies. In the first two games of the World Series Rodriguez was a woeful 0-8 in the first two games but he came alive in Game 3. On Halloween Night and the Yanks down 3-0 to the Phillies Rodriguez provide the spark by taking Cole Hamels deep for a 2-run home run which was the spark that started another comeback as the Yankees won 8-5. Yet, the biggest hit game the next night in Game 4.
The setting was the Yankees were tied 4-4 in the 9th with two outs and Johnny Damon had a huge 9 pitch at-bat that ended with Damon getting a single. With Teixeira batting, Damon stole 2nd and 3rd on the same play and then Brad Lidge hit Tex with a pitch. With two on and two out, A-Rod ripped a double down the left field line that gave the Yankees a lead that would not be relinquished. Two games later, Rodriguez and the Bronx Bombers clinched the World Series and Rodriguez’s finally added World Series champion to his resume.
There would be more games and playoff appearances for Rodriguez yet none of them had the same performance or end result for A-Rod as the 2009 postseason. After the 2010 Divisional Series, A-Rod never hit over .200 in a playoff series and he did not even come close to winning a regular season MVP. And while Rodriguez will be critiqued and his numbers in question because of PED use, his impact on the 2009 season is undeniable even to those that loathe A-Rod the most.