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Alex Rodriguez Had Some Astoundingly Dumb Analysis About Late-Game Leads

In Monday’s Hot Clicks: A-Rod makes another head-scratching comment in the booth, a roundup of Week 1 NFL action and more.

Come on, man

For one of the best players of all time, Alex Rodriguez really has a lot of bad ideas about baseball. I’ll never forget the time he talked about the importance of leading by an even number of runs instead of an odd number of runs

What he said on Sunday night wasn’t as nonsensical as that, but it was close. 

With two outs and two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth, Chris Taylor came to the plate for the Dodgers, hoping to add a few insurance runs and help salvage a two-game split against the Astros. Or was he trying to add some insurance runs? A-Rod thought maybe it was a good idea to head to the ninth with the score as is.

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“What you need to put the nail in the coffin for the Dodgers tonight is a clean 1-2-3 from [Kenley] Jansen in the ninth,” Rodriguez said. “This is a big at-bat for Taylor. You almost want to keep the game 5–1 to see how Jansen reacts. It will be a totally different outing if it’s 7–1.”

Before I blast A-Rod, let me explain what I think he means. Jansen was coming off back-to-back rough outings. He surrendered three runs (including a two-run homer) against the D-Backs on Tuesday, then, on Saturday against Houston, allowed five runs on five hits without recording an out. So there’s something to be said for wanting to see him perform in a high-pressure situation. A-Rod also isn’t saying that Taylor should keep the bat on his shoulder and make sure the Dodgers head to the ninth up by only four, he’s just saying it’s not the worst thing in the world if you don’t stretch the lead. 

Still, this is a bad point by A-Rod. A four-run lead and a six-run lead in the ninth inning aren’t wildly different. In either instance, things have to go sideways in a major way before the pitcher starts sweating. It’s also insulting to Jansen. He crapped the bed in a save situation the night before, but this is his 11th season in the majors and his ninth year as a full-time closer. He knows how to pitch in a high-pressure situation. The size of the lead he’s protecting in this one particular inning isn’t going impact his psyche in any meaningful way or tell manager Dave Roberts anything he didn’t already know. 

Taylor ended up hitting a homer to stretch the L.A. lead to 8–1. Jansen, clearly feeling comfortable on the mound with that luxurious seven-run lead, worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, just like Rodriguez said the Dodgers needed.

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I generally think A-Rod is a good analyst, but his talents aren’t properly used in the booth calling a game. In the laid-back environment of a low-stakes regular season game, Rodriguez has too many opportunities to fill dead air with pearls of wisdom like this or to start talking like he’s on Shark Tank. Put him in a studio with other great baseball minds and let him opine on the finer points of the game for a few minutes at a time. That’s when you get pure gold like this video from 2016:

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