(Calms self down)
Okay. Why did A-Rod have to hit number 600 today? I had a perfect piece written about him yesterday, about what Girardi should be doing (in 5 easy steps), what hitting coach Kevin Long should be doing, and what most importantly, A-Rod himself should be doing. All I had to do was press Publish Post this morning and he would have been in business. Nope. I had an orthodontist appointment then had to go hiking, literally right after another. I get in my car to head back home to finish the article, and I check my phone. I signed up for one of those alert text messages that alerts you when a player does something good, so I did the same for A-Rod. The only messages I had been recieving from that number were ones that said:
Alex Rodriguez (3B)
It was like this for about two weeks, with the occasional 0 for 4. Not today. It said:
New HR! 2RBI
My first thought: I just wasted two hours writing an article that is now obselete.
(Calms Self Down. Again)
A-Rod was 0 for his last 18, and 3 for his last 33 before his 600th home run. Hey, at least he is now 1 for his last 22, and 4 for his last 37. And he only left 5 guys on base today. Sure A-Rod hit his home run. But let's be honest. If this was home run number 587, people would be calling for A-Rod to go to bench. He is still only 4 for his last 37. He still is having the same habits when he hits. Look at his at-bats following the home run. Two ground balls and the A-Rod Classic, a pop-up that barely clears the infield. He still has mechanical issues as a hitter. As I would have said in the now dead column, Girardi needs to sit him. Let him take some swings, let him clear his mind. He is still in a slump, for crying out loud. Let him have one or two days off. Hell, I probably wouldn't have played him today, since it's a day game following a night game and all, and A-Rod probably had last night's futility square in his mind.
But really, thank God he hit it today. Can you imagine what Rodriguez would have been like had this gone on for another week? He is already a member of the All-Decade Fragile Psyche Team (which includes charter members Ron Artest, Vince Young, Terrell Owens, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and every other athlete who gives more than two craps about what everybody thinks about them and freak out when they feel somebody may not appreciate what they are doing). This would be in the back of his mind, and he would bring the Yankees down with him.
Remember that the pennant race? How many people knew that with last nights loss, the Yankees were in second in the AL East. The only thing they were leading was the Wild Card. It was all lost in this A-Rod hoopla, a media extravaganza created by baseball's reverence towards stats. The Yankees are still behind the Rays. To me losing the division to the Rays would be horrible. As a Yankee fan, I feel some weird kind of hatred to any team formed ten years ago that is beating us. With the Red Sox, it is different. It's historic and nobody likes them. But to have Tampa Bay beat us out for it? Neither team we could live with winning the division, and probably Boston we would feel worse about. Because their fans actually care. But Tampa Bay? They get about 18,000 fans a game, and the fans who are there, half of them are there because they think "Oh fun, baseball, we've done everything else, why not try this" or they are there because they got lost going to Disney World. There is no real fandom with Tampa the way there is with Boston. With Boston, you have the whole Red Sox Nation & Bandwagon you have to worry about. But Tampa Bay? What do they think their doing?
Where does Alex Rodriguez fit into history after this milestone home run? He is only one of seven to hit 600, and is only 350 hits away from 3,000. He has won 3 MVP's and a World Series. He also took Performance Enhancing Drugs. I can see why some feel whatever numbers he puts up are a cheat. The only real difference between Rodriguez and McGwire, Sosa and Bonds is that Rodriguez admitted to using the drugs. Albeit it be by force however. It is still hard to see him as a Yankee. When he is inducted into Cooperstown, which he will, odds are he'll have a Yankee cap on, the interlocking NY on his plaque. I can see some fans believe it wrong that the world-famous symbol, the one that is ubiquitous throughout the world, be on the head of a cheater, in baseball's most hallowed ground. A-Rod is really, really the strangest athlete, the one with the most troubles, I can ever remember. He is just so different than anybody else out there. You have to put him in the same category as the cheaters of the game, but he admitted to doing it, which nobody else had. It is almost as if his drug use has been forgotten by now. I haven't seen anything on it in the media, the same way Bonds's use was brought up when he reached 756. Maybe A-Rod's use will be brought up when he reaches 762 (or whatever weird number Bonds set).
Baseball is a weird sport, where number of championship don't really matter. It is great to win one, but if you don't win more than that, it's not the end of the world. Hank Aaron only won two, and he is still considered one of the greatest of all-time. They are saying down in South Beach, if LeBron doesn't win more than four he won't even be mentioned in the same breath as MJ. Yogi Berra won 13 championships as a player and coach, but you never see his name mentioned against the all-time greats. Baseball legacies are based on statistics and ability. A-Rod has more natural ability than maybe anyone ever, but he's only won one title. And yet, that won't be held against him in the long run. His legacy will be defined by his statistics, and unfortunately for him, his drug use.
This was excruciating, to say the least. It got to the point where you just assumed he was going to get out. I really felt like this when he got up to bat. There was just this weird feeling of no hope, as if I was Red in The Shawshank Redemption. "Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane". So instead of being like Andy Dufrense and ignoring Red, I took Red's advice. Why do you think I didn't publish the article right away? I figured I had enough time. I thought I could have a few days, actually. But he finally came through. Hey. At least this will tide over ESPN for a day, instead of the incessant Favre news.
Random Thoughts from the World of Sport
Mark Teixiera is on fire. Honestly, if he hit like this during the whole season, is there any doubt that Yankees would already be at 100 wins? Okay, maybe at little, but is carrying the Yankees at this point, where everyone else is struggling.
- Derek Jeter is batting .274. .274! I cannot remember the last time he has batted this low this late into the season. Recently, in the lonely world of baseball statisticians, the stat batting average has become obsolete. Even if it has, Jeter is only getting on base a little more than 33% of the time. He's the leadoff hitter! A leadoff hitter who is only getting on base as little as he is cannot help the team out. Jeter has to turn it around. But is there really any doubt that he won't?
- Just once I would like to see ESPN's sources. Is it someone close to Brett Favre or Ed Werder's neighbor. Why even report this if you are not sure if he is retiring or not? Honestly, I think it is time for Favre to go. I'm sick of this relentless will he or won't he. Why tell Minnesota now? They could have drafted Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy or made an effort to sign Donovan McNabb. Favre has ruined another franchise.
- Finally, Shaq. Can anyone imagine the clubhouse with Nate, Big Baby, and Shaq? It's like Shrek, Donkey and the Giant Gingerbread Man. In the first game of the season, Miami has the 3 Kings. We not only have the Big 3, but the cast of Shrek 3. Not really sure how I feel on Shaq yet. Do we really need Jermaine and Shaquille O'Neal. This would have been league changing in 2003. Not sure if either of them are still relevant in today's NBA.