In the 12th inning of Game 1 of the ALCS, Nick Swisher once again misplayed a ball in right field that led to the Tigers taking an extra-inning lead, and that’s when it started.
“Citi Field Nick! Citi Field Nick! Citi Field Nick! Citi Field Nick! Citi Field Nick!”
The chants implying Swisher would be a New York Met starting in 2013 rained down following his second defensive miscue in three nights that would also lead to another extra-inning loss. The Stadium grew quiet and fans let Swisher know he wouldn’t be given a free pass for his postseason failures at the plate when they had now made their way to the outfield and were costing the Yankees games. No one in the Stadium wanted to see Swisher’s Grinch smile/smirk combination that he was likely giving following his latest blunder and no one thought he would redeem himself at the plate in the bottom of the 12th, and he didn’t.
There’s a case to be made that Nick Swisher is the worst postseason player in the game’s history for the amount of opportunities he has had. In 45 postseason games he has a postseason career line of .167/.284/.300 with four home runs and seven RBIs in 147 at-bats. With the Yankees he’s played in eight postseason series and has hit .083, .150, .133, .333, .091, .211, .111 and now .250 in this ALCS. He was so bad in the 2009 World Series that he was benched for Jerry Hairston Jr. in Game 2.
During that World Series, Alex Rodriguez drove in six of his 18 postseason RBIs and beat the Twins and Angels by himself before changing Game 3 against the Phillies with a two-run home run (his sixth of the postseason) off Cole Hamels in the pivotal game. A-Rod is the No. 1 reason the Yankees won the World Series in 2009 after putting together one of the best postseason performances in history.
Prior to 2009, A-Rod was booed heavily in the Bronx during both the regular season and the postseason for his postseason failures stemming from the final four games of the 2004 ALCS. After A-Rod put the team on his back in 2009, you would have thought the booing would be over forever for a guy who finally brought the franchise and city a championship. Nope. The booing continued for A-Rod. Not at first , but it found its way back into his at-bats and his life almost as if 2009 never happened and his Yankees career consisted of only World Series-less seasons.
This postseason A-Rod has been pinch-hit for and benched. He took the heat for the Yankees needing a fifth game to eliminate the Orioles and he’s taking heat now for the Yankees being down 0-2 to the Tigers. For eight years now, A-Rod has drawn negative attention from his supposed own fans, the New York media and the nation as the game’s highest-paid player. Through all of this, A-Rod has called out the fans and complained about their antics exactly zero times. Zero. He has taken it like a man who understands the stakes of not only having a $275 million contract, but the stakes of playing for the New York Yankees.
Here’s what A-Rod said after the Yankees’ Game 2 loss on Sunday.
“We haven’t scored a run in a long time. I’m right there with them. You can’t blame them. You can’t blame our fans. We’ve got to go out there and score runs. We have the ability.”
A-Rod has been terrible this October. For all of the awful Octobers he has had with the Yankees this one has been his worst. The 2-for-15 from the 2005 ALDS, the 1-for-14 from the 2006 ALDS, the 4-for-15 from the 2007 ALDS, the 4-for-21 from the 2010 ALCS and the 2-for-18 from the 2011 ALDS are all looking a lot better than his 2012 right now (3-for-23, 12 strikeouts).
A-Rod has become the scapegoat for the Yankees’ inability to score runs. He has been the only regular from the lineup to be pinch-hit for and also benched in seven postseason games. He has watched his spot in the order be given to Raul Ibanez (and thankfully or the Orioles would be in the ALCS) and also Eric Chavez, who is 0-for-11 with five strikeouts in the playoffs. In three Octobers he has gone from the most feared hitter on the planet to an easy out and a platoon player. But he’s not alone.
Robinson Cano has now set the record for longest hitless streak in the Yankees’ postseason history and is 2-for-32 in the playoffs.
Curtis Granderson, the left-handed Mark Reynolds, is now 3-for-26 in October.
Mark Teixeira has one RBI in these playoffs.
The fans have finally started to come around on the rest of the Goof Troop, deciding that the booing should be divided up since A-Rod isn’t responsible for all 27 outs and every loss. (It only took nearly a decade for everyone to figure this out.) And it only took four Octobers for everyone to turn on Nick Swisher.
I will always get to say I was at the Stadium for the historic night when Yankee fans turned on Nick Swisher. And I will always remember the day that Nick Swisher turned on the fans, starting a battle he can’t win and punching his ticket out of the Bronx via free agency at the end of the season.
Unlike A-Rod, Swisher can’t handle the bright lights of New York when those bright lights are shining in a negative light. Swisher couldn’t handle the heckling on Saturday night or questions from fans asking him if would be doing a back-flip while in pursuit of the next ball hit to right field. For the first time as a Yankee, the Anti-Nick Swisher Club gained some steam and made some noise and it was too much for Swisher and his $10.25 million contract to take.
Swisher has been treated exceptionally well by the fans for four years despite not always deserving it. And for the first time, fans reached the tipping point with the postseason disaster that is Swisher and he couldn’t deal with it. So, Swisher took his ball and went home.
Bald Vinny described his salute to Section 203 during Roll Call on Sunday as one he had to make rather than one he wanted to make and he refrained from turning around to face the bleachers throughout Game 2. He made his warmup throws before each inning just beyond the infield rather than in his usual spot in right field. Swisher was hurt by the fans turning on him and his offensive and defensive postseason failures, and he wanted everyone to know about it by making it this noticeable. There has been exactly zero instances in the history of sports where a player has turned on his team’s fans and it has worked out well. Zero. But that’s what Nick Swisher chose to do after Game 2 of the ALCS and now he will have to deal with the consequences.
Here is some of what Swisher said about his relationship with the fans after Game 2.
“I’ve been so fortunate to be here and play every day. When things kind of turn like that, obviously it kind of hurts a little bit. This is the type of city and crowd that really rallies around its team. That’s the reason why we’ve got 27 championships.”
I didn’t realize Nick Swisher won 27 championships. What does he do with all the rings? He can really only wear 10 of them at a time unless he also wears some on his toes. But let’s say he doesn’t wear any on his toes. Does he just rotate them? Like does he wear the 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1956 ones on Monday with the 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009 ones and then switch them on Tuesday for 10 more? He must plan on wearing them in chronological order, right? That would make the most sense. I really want to know how he organizes this. This sounds like a future segment for Yankees On Deck on YES.
“To go through a stretch like this where it’s kind of a negative attitude, a negative-type setting, it’s tough. But hey man that’s part of the game. Rightfully so. There’s a lot of expectations here and I guess when you don’t get the job done, you’re going to hear about it.”
You guess?! You guess?! Is this real life? Nick Swisher “guesses that when you play for the New York Yankees there are a lot of expectations.” That’s nice of him. But in all seriousness, is this real life?
Apparently Nick Swisher thought that when you become a Yankee, you just put on the pinstripes, salute Section 203 every home game and everything is gumdrops and lollipops and it’s like living in Candy Land and results don’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose as long you give it your best and try your hardest, Nick! And the most important thing is that you have fun, Nick! Winning and losing isn’t important if you lose in the playoffs as long as you have fun, Nick! Everyone is a winner here!
“Last night was pretty big. A lot of people saying a lot of things I’ve never heard before. For example, I missed that ball in the lights and the next thing you know, I’m the reason that Jeter got hurt. It’s kind of frustrating. They were saying it’s my fault.”
I have a hard time believing Swisher lost that ball in the lights. Why? Have you ever seen Nick Swisher play right field before? It’s a little hard to believe a guy that just two nights prior rolled around in the outfield after a ball like Chris Farley and David Spade pretending they’re being attacked by bees in Tommy Boy. If he hadn’t sucked so bad at fielding only 48 hours before and the four years with the Yankees before that then maybe I would believe his excuse. If Ichiro misplays a ball in Game 3 and blames it on the lights I will believe him because he’s Ichiro and a 10-time Gold Glove winner and not the guy who plays right field like he’s had a few cocktails and laughs whenever he screws up or makes an out.
Could Swisher really be that upset about people blaming him for Jeter’s injury? How was he not more upset about the “Citi Field Nick” chants (which I was proudly a part of) suggesting he would be a New York Met in the offseason. The idea of being a Met has to hurt more than thinking you’re responsible for the injury to the most iconic Yankee since Mickey Mantle, no?
“I‘m one of those guys where if you give me a hug I’ll run through a brick wall for you, man.”
And then there are sometimes when Swisher will overrun the brick wall or do an unnecessary barrel roll to reach the brick wall or dive and miss the brick wall completely.
“It just kind of seems right now like there’s a lot of … It’s tough. It’s really tough. You want to go out there, you want to play for your city, for your team. Just right now, it’s just really tough.”
It’s really tough to get up for playoff baseball games at Yankee Stadium when you’re making $10.25 million. That’s a tough spot to be in and not something I would ever wish upon anyone. The $10.25 million isn’t enough for Swisher to play baseball and get up for playoff games, he also needs you to give him a hug.
“That’s the last thing that I ever thought would be in this ballpark, that people would get on you that bad, especially you’re home where your heart is, where you’ve been battling and grinding all year long. It’s just frustrating man. You never want to be in that spot. It’s not like you’re trying to go out there and do bad on purpose. It’s just tough.”
Aww, Nick Swisher never thought people would get on him at Yankee Stadium. Aww, poor Nick. Wait, Swisher has played for the Yankees for four years. That would mean that during the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons he never heard fans boo A-Rod at Yankee Stadium. Hmm that’s a little odd. I’m pretty sure I have heard A-Rod booed at the Stadium over the last four years. Actually, I know I have. And it hasn’t just been four years. A-Rod has been booed heavily at the Stadium since 2005. That’s eight years. A-Rod has been called things Swisher would have to look up on Urban Dictionary and some of the things he has been called in the Bronx are even too terrible for even the Internet.
“Sometimes I’m a sensitive guy and some of the things people say, man, they get under your skin a little bit. Hey, man, I’ve been lucky to be here for the past four years bro, and we’re not going to go out like this. We’re going to go to Detroit, man, give everything we’ve got and we’re going to go from there.”
The Yankees have to win two of the three games in Detroit to return to Yankee Stadium in 2012. If the series gets back to New York, Nick Swisher will have to face the fans he called out. If it doesn’t get back to New York, he will have to face the fans he called out in another uniform at another time because Nick Swisher won’t be a Yankee in 2013. He decided that on Sunday.