The Yankees need a huge, "prove it" start from left-handed import Carlos Rodón in Wednesday's Subway Series finale. That much is a given, echoed across the sport's landscape. It was obvious long before the Yankees emboldened Pete Alonso, and well ahead of the final strike of Tuesday's 9-3 dud nestling into Omar Narvaez's glove.
But that also means the fans in the stands need to translate their nervous energy into encouragement before first pitch. No need to be phony, but ... starting off the contest with a round of boos probably isn't the motivational juice you think it is.
Rodón has earned some scorn, of course. His blown kiss midway through his rough third start in Anaheim was a textbook example of what not to do to endear yourself to Yankee fans. Luckily, he knows it.
"I’m not just going to walk around like a robot. It gets to a point where you’re pissed. I’ve had three bad starts, I’m 0-3. I’m not gonna make an excuse for myself. I’m human like you are. I’m going to screw up. I screwed up."- Carlos Rodón
If he fails on Wednesday night, then let the expletives fly. It's going to get ugly. But if you're attending this game and choose to follow one WFAN producer's ridiculous advice, the game will be lost before Rodón even toes the rubber.
Yankees fans "spineless" if they don't boo Carlos Rodón every time he touches the baseball in a must-win game
On Tuesday's show, when host Tiki Barber mentioned that he felt he hadn't properly "killed" Rodón for last week's gesture, producer Shaun Morash noted that he planned to deliver the blows on Wednesday night.
"If you’re sitting next to me, he’s getting booed every time he walks off the mound every half inning," he added.
The sentiment is valid. Rodón went to a place in his last start that you can't allow yourself to visit so easily -- on the road -- if you're going to be the face of the can't-be-intimidated Yankees. I'm upset with Rodón, too. Rodón is upset with Rodón.
But this is Year 1 of 6 of a partnership that has to go well for this Yankees team to have any chance of contending in the next several seasons. Rodón was brought in as a perfect pairing to Gerrit Cole, a firebreather who could tip the scales in the Yankees' direction in Games 1 and 2 of any playoff series. Cole is calm, cool, and quirky; Rodón is downright furious. It's a combination that very well could carry this team to glory.
And, if that's ever going to happen, the relationship can't be shot by 50,000 arrows on Wednesday night before the game's even started. Rodón has shown off impressively thick skin in the past, but new injury concerns and potential "chronic" back issues have left him adjusting to far more than just a new environment. Wednesday night's game going well is more crucial than any self-important fan squabble.
That said, if he struggles again? All (justified) hell is going to break loose, and Rodón will simply have to deal with it. That's what he was brought here to do.