Column: Role players win championships

Jonas Fortune

I hope you were watching closely, George Steinbrenner. I hope you took notes on how the Detroit Tigers only needed four games to dismantle your empire.

Within those games it became very clear that it is difficult to buy a championship.

The Tigers play solid, fundamental baseball, have a good pitching staff and rely on their complimentary players to come through in the clutch.

If you happened to catch that series, it was visible that Magglio Ordonez, the Tigers’ big free agent, was nearly invisible. Players such as Curtis Granderson and Marcus Thames delivered clutch plays to seal a Detroit series victory.

Thames and Granderson are great complimentary players. They come into a game and do the little things that are expected from their position in the lineup, whether it be moving a runner over, stealing a base or any other intangible that helps constitute a winning club.

The Yankees probably are wondering what a complimentary player is at this point. Six years ago they had them.

I cannot fault Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and, to an extent, Alex Rodriguez for not knowing how to play their roles while wearing the pinstripes. It is nearly impossible to take three former MVPs, put them on a roster and expect them to be a complimentary player to someone else. These guys have been built up for years to be “the man.” Should Steinbrenner really expect that their egos will be pushed down for the good of the team?

When the Yanks were winning championships, it was because they had a roster full of players such as Scott Brosius, Chuck Knoblauch and Paul O’Neill. All three were resilient gamers who always came through in the clutch.

I remember hating these guys with a passion. They always seemed to weasel their way through a game and come up with that huge play when they needed it.

Not to mention they just had that New York feel to them. They were ugly, gritty and knew how to work their butts off to get what they desired: another Yankee title.

I can’t say the same thing about May-Rod who can only hit well in the early months. In a world where fantasy sports have become the to-do thing for sports fans, Rodriguez should be the poster boy. His 121 RBIs and 30-plus bombs really don’t amount to much. They rarely come in crunch time.

In the Detroit series, May-Rod hit an amazing .071. That’s not worth the league minimum, let alone $25 million.

If I were Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman, I would be looking for any suitors for May-Rod. Let him take his game to a place such as Colorado, where they have no clue what pressure baseball is. Maybe then he can rebuild his confidence.

The Yankees could then rebuild their farm system and get back on the path to their 27th World championship. That is if George was taking notes.

Contact sports columnist Jonas Fortune at [email protected].