- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Alex Rodriguez misplayed a ball that was scored a hit Sunday, escaping his 21st error of the season. Boo!

He struck out twice and grounded into a double play. Boo!

He also hit a home run — a meaningless one in the ninth inning of a 5-3 loss to the Angels. Boo!

This is A-Rod’s season. Boo! This all happened at Yankee Stadium, of course, A-Rod’s home park. Boo!

Rodriguez, the highest-paid player in baseball, the $252 million golden boy, isn’t an MVP candidate for the first time since, well, forever. But he is having an All-Star season — 25 home runs, 83 RBI, .286 batting average, .388 on-base, .512 slugging — an embattled, derided All-Star season.

It’s a season with a perception that has no basis in reality.

The Yankees are in first place, A-Rod is still the best third baseman in the league, even in a down year, and Yankees fans can’t stop reminding him how little they think of him.

It makes them look petty, immature and, worst of all, like they listen to a lot of sports talk radio.

They contend he isn’t clutch. But he basically won the 2004 division series against the Twins by himself, hitting .421/.476/.737.

They don’t quite grasp that there are no things like meaningless home runs, because it ain’t over until it’s over.

Yankees fans — the ones booing A-Rod, not all of them — don’t care about baseball. They care about the Yankees winning every game, and if A-Rod makes an error and they get to boo him, then even better.

But here lies the cold, hard fact: The people booing A-Rod will never be as good at anything as he is at baseball — except maybe booing.

At 31 years old, Rodriguez is among the top 25 players of all time. Unless Yankees fans totally destroy his psyche, he will finish among the top 10.

The people booing A-Rod, in the fullness of time, will look just as silly as the ones who booed Ted Williams or Mike Schmidt in their home parks.

Of course, Yankees fans love Derek Jeter. He’s a real Yankee, whatever that means.

But it was A-Rod who agreed to move to third base before the Yankees would trade for him. Never mind that A-Rod is a far superior fielder than Jeter, this season notwithstanding. He then turned in consecutive MVP-caliber seasons, even winning the award last season.

That should be worth something. In Yankee Stadium, it’s worth a chorus of vitriol-laced boos.

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