"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


There were lots of reasons for Yankee fans to smile last night as the Bronx Bombers beat up on the Brewers, 12-3. Joe Torre, veins bulging from his neck, saying everything he could to get run by Larry Vanover in the sixth inning was my favorite, but Alex Rodriguez stole the show, going 4-4, hitting two home runs, and, in the process, becoming the youngest player in the history of the game to reach 400 for his career. (Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano added solo shots of their own; man, ever notice how all of Jeter’s dingers come in meaningless situations…That’s a gag, son–gag, that is.) Though Rodriguez still hasn’t won over some Yankee fans, he’s one of the more remarkable players of his generation. Yeah, he’s a prima dona, but so are most superstars. The guy works hard, and plays hard. Currently leading the league in homers, runs scored and runs batted in, he’s having a fine season, aside from some notable defensive lapses. All I can say is that I sure appreciate watching him play.

Ruben Sierra started in left field and collected three hits, but Hideki Matusi was able to keep his consecutive-game streak alive when he pinch-hit in the ninth. The Yanks have the night off as the travel to St. Louis for three games against the Cardinals this weekend.

Oh, and I forgot to mention this yesterday, but Jaret Wright was shut-down after complaining of a sore arm. According to Newsday:

If Wright remains on the DL for another 29 days, which the Yankees think will be the case, they will have the opportunity to void his three-year, $21-million deal after next season by paying him a $4-million buyout, saving the team $3 million.

Do it, do it. Then with the extra money, maybe they can go after another arm. I hear Eric Milton’s available. Too bad they missed out on Placido Planco, who was traded to the Tigers yesterday. The Yanks could use another outfielder.

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1 zakysdad1   ~  Jun 9, 2005 5:06 am

1.  Alex

Eric Milton? I recall a recent post about how poorly Milton has pitched the last two years. Zito has the most upside. How about Soriano to replace Bernie Williams? He's compfortable here and has the athleticism to learn Centerfield. I take back what I said about A-Rod but I still hate Giambi, Loathe Brown, Detest Johnson and despise Womack.
I was re-reading Olney's Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty and still am amazed at what a remarkable group they were. When TIno got up last night, I had just read the section on him. I saw those eyes get big and determined and he came through with the clutch Double ( don't our third base coaches know how slow he is, though? Getting him thrown out at the plate made me think of Windmill Willie at his finest sending Cecil Fielder home to be thrown out repeatedly).

2 rbj   ~  Jun 9, 2005 5:20 am

2.  I had no problem with sending Tino at the time. It was risky, but there was going to be 1 out, a man at first and the pitcher at the plate = double play. And Tino was safe, the tag was late and high, even the Brewer annoucers finally admitted it was a "close play". Bernie looked absolutely awful going after that double, his legs are shot. (Sorry, Bernie.)

Congrats A-Rod.

3 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 9, 2005 5:27 am

3.  I'm sorry, I was being sarcastic about Milton.

And yeah, Tino was safe on that play.

As far as Olney's book goes, he's writing about one of the great teams in history. Naturally, it's pretty special thinking about them again.

4 bp1   ~  Jun 9, 2005 6:05 am

4.  Was Torre's rant gonna be our Varitek face shove moment for the season? I hope so. I've never seen him like that. Somewhere, Zim is smiling.

I thought A-Rod's first homer was a fly ball to Center. Amazing how the ball comes off his bat. Sometimes it looks like if he's taken a half swing, and the ball is launched. That shot was deep.

Had to chuckle when the announcers made a big deal of Ruben's "great play" in left. Geez. It was a good play in the sense that he actually caught the ball, but it shouldn't have been quite so exciting. He's not exactly fleet of foot out there. Our outfield let us down in the first inning, but at least this game we made up for it. We really (really) need a good fielder.

Moose looked sharp. Phew.

How 'bout Matsui hussling to beat out that play at 1st? He was motoring. Good for him. Love to see hussle like that. Did not like to see Bernie loaf his shot off the wall. Yo Bern - love ya - but let's leave that stuff for Piazza. Still a stand up double (and all it ever was), but that's exactly the sort of thing that has been killing this team. Thinking we're a little better than we really are.

Congrats to A-Rod. Glad he didn't have to suffer like Sheff last year, wondering when the big fly was gonna come, and getting calls from his Ma and what not. I had a feeling he'd take care of it soon. When he's in a groove, he's scary good. Here's to hoping he can carry this team on his bat through the next three games. A sweep would be most welcome.

Good game.

5 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 9, 2005 7:07 am

5.  Maybe its because I only caught the tail end of the game, or maybe its because I look at the standings and still see the Yankees in fourth with a losing record, but last night's game doesn't give me much more confidence going in to St. Louis than I had yesterday morning. Forgive me for being a gloomy gus, but I need so see this team put together another winning streak before I'll be willing to get excited about them again. That will be tough going into St. Louis to face the second best team in baseball.

6 Murray   ~  Jun 9, 2005 7:37 am

6.  Right-o, Cliff. And you didn't even mention the mixed feelings that must have resulted from seeing a decent Mussina start wasted against a grade-B opponent like Milwaukee rather than a grade-A opponent like St. Louis.

7 Loogy   ~  Jun 9, 2005 7:47 am

7.  It always stinks when you make a sarcastic remark and someone doesn't get it. (no offense "zaky" - those things happen to all of us)
Right away it killed a possible thread listing craptastic pitchers.

8 murphy   ~  Jun 9, 2005 7:48 am

8.  worry not, murray. i have a funny feeling wang is gonna make the cards look like little leaguers.

(murphy prays this post doesn't come back to haunt him mid-game satruday)

9 murphy   ~  Jun 9, 2005 7:51 am

9.  so, loogy, does that mean stealing graves from the mets (all wells/arizona stylee) is out of the question?

10 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 9, 2005 8:12 am

10.  Don't worry, Murph, it won't get you back mid-day Sat, because Wang is starting Friday night.

11 Patrick   ~  Jun 9, 2005 9:06 am

11.  Congrats A-Rod.

I'll take your comment about Jeter never hitting any home runs in meaningful situations as sarcasm, as well. A-Rod's home runs didn't come in any "meaningful" situations. They just came in the course of the game. In that case, every run counts. Not like it was the 9th inning in a tie game or something.

12 Mick S   ~  Jun 9, 2005 9:16 am

12.  In all fairness to Jeter, didn't he hit a game winning homerun against the Red Sox after Mo blew the save this season? Too bad he couldn't do that against Turnbow the first two games.

13 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 9, 2005 9:23 am

13.  Yeah, I was breaking Jeter's chops, or just teasing the perception many fans of him. Seriously, I just get tired of people busting on Rodriguez for not being some kind of a flop. I understand why he isn't exactly likable, and why people don't root for him, but to categorize him as a loser is just ridiculous.

If I ever have a spare hour or seven, I'd love to look at Retrosheet and do some research about his clutch hits, even if it's since he came to the Yanks last year. Not all of his 400 home runs came in so-called "meaningless" situations, did they?

But I think until he hits 12 home runs in the World Series, he'll always be picked on. Doesn't matter if it's fair or not. People have killed him ever since leaving Seattle and I have to think most of it is about a) the money, and b) his persona. Can you imagine how he would have been ravaged had he not averaged 50 dingers a year down in Texas?

Yeesh. I mean, Bonds was murdered for performing poorly in the post-season until 2002. So is Rodriguez, and he's got a .330 average in 5 playoff series (he's played in seven really, but only had 2 at bats in 95). This is not the numbers of a collosal chump.

Meanwhile, the guy plays hard, is a good fielder, runs the bases well, and is a great hitter. I wish the Yanks had 24 more just like him.

14 Marcus   ~  Jun 9, 2005 10:00 am

14.  First impressions can mean a lot when it comes to Alex Rodriguez. I, for one, have been a huge fan since last year when I saw the Yankees play the A's at the Colesium in Oakland. The Yankees were down all game until the top of the 9th when A-Rod steps to the plate with two men on and launches a no-doubter to center. Sure it was off of Arthur Rhodes, but it was clutch in every sense of the word. I was getting dogged all game for being the only Yankees fan in our sparse upper deck section, but I leapt to my feet at the crack of the bat and have been on A-Rod's side ever since.

Other people have the $250 million dollar contract stuck in their head and will never view A-Rod outside of the prism of money and ego. Then there are the Schillings and Nixons of the world who go on to criticize the guy in the national media for what other people have told them about the guy.

Alex B., you've got it just right: the guy plays hard, is a good fielder, runs the bases well, and is a great hitter. You could severely reduce his ridiculous level of talent and I'd still take 24 guys who play the game like him.

15 sabo   ~  Jun 9, 2005 10:37 am

15.  Congrats to A-Rod and the team for a much needed win.

One quick question. Why did Torre bring out Sturtze in the 7th leading 10-2?

Torre on Quantrill:

"I don't know how we can get him more innings," Torre said. "His stuff hasn't lost anything; he's just too fat right now on the plate."

Hmmmm...I think he could have held an 8 run lead. If we're not trading for more relief help, which is fine, Torre sure better straighten out Quantrill. Seems that last night would have been a good time to give him back-to-back work.

16 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 9, 2005 10:55 am

16.  Quantrill doesn't seem long for the team, does he? Bring back Colter Bean!

17 JohnnyC   ~  Jun 9, 2005 11:02 am

17.  Bean has been brutal of late, Alex. Jason Anderson has been stellar and is the type of hard thrower the Yankees need to fill the long relief spot now vacant because of Torre's everchanging moods. Also, when Michael Kay indirectly "questions" Torre's misuse of the bullpen (like constantly pitching Sturze or Gordon in a blowout or behind in the score)during a game broadcast, you know the organization is acutely aware of why the bullpen has failed spectacularly in post-season since 2001.

18 Simone   ~  Jun 9, 2005 11:23 am

18.  While it is fun to put it all on others, Rodriguez is responsible for much of the dislike being sent his way. The dumbass insecure comments that he makes on occasion certainly don't make him particularly likeable.

19 Patrick   ~  Jun 9, 2005 11:33 am

19.  Don't take it out on Jeter, Alex. ;)

A-Rod doesn't get the credit he deserves... but, he's the highest paid player and he's a Yankee... so, in this day and age, that's two strikes and some people can't look beyond that. Most true Yankee fans appreciate the guy for what he is: special.

We can just be glad that we have him.

20 uburoisc   ~  Jun 9, 2005 11:37 am

20.  This upcoming series against the Cards will tell us all a lot about this team--a very important series against a real good opponent. Yanks take 2 I think they have a chance. God, I hope this doesn't mean Ruben will now occupy left field and Bernie has no business in CF, none. As for Soriano, no, absolutely not. He has the worst plate discipline of any hitter I have ever seen--horrible. You know how some Yankee fans hate Giambi or Brown? Well, I hate Soriano, absolutely loathe him. I will never forget all those strikeouts, swinging at anything over and over and over. Against good pitching, playoff pitching, Soriano is a wasted at bat. He has enough bat speed to actually catch one one up around the eyes or 2 feet outside from time to time, but by and large, he stinks. And he played a rotten 2nd base, too.

21 scottys boy   ~  Jun 9, 2005 11:52 am

21.  i'm no a-rod fan but without his perfromance against the twinkies last year the yanks don't even see the red sox in the LCS - but that's the story with a-rod, even when he comes thru you end up wishing he hadn't because a loss to the twinkies would have been better than the history-making series that ensued

22 BFenwick   ~  Jun 9, 2005 1:30 pm

22.  I knew I was amused when Trot came out and criticized A-Rod, but wasn't exactly sure why. Trot is a full year older than Alex and some 281 HRs behind. To not like him is one thing, but there haven't been many better.

23 brockdc   ~  Jun 9, 2005 7:11 pm

23.  Though the win does little to quell my anxieties about this team's miserable shortcomings, it was an essential ego boost going into this weekend's series.

And I'd be lying like a bastard if I didn't admit that I was exhilerated by Torre's outburst. The timing was a little weird (one would think he would've exploded after the errant "out" call on Tino at the plate), but it was nonetheless refreshing to see that Torre's passions can still be aroused from the game of baseball (I'm not being facetious).

A-Rod blah, blah, blah. It's all been said. Good goin' and such. And it was funny to see A-Rod sneak up behind Jeter and tickle his neck only to have Jeter playfully clock him in the chest with his glove. It's just sort of fun to watch some of these guys acting like regular goofy human beings.

24 Jay Jaffe   ~  Jun 9, 2005 8:45 pm

24.  I tuned in just in time to see A-Rod's 400th, and I was moved enough to actually stand up and give him a hand in my own living room, even with nobody else around. It's not that I'm a huge A-Rod fan; I don't dislike the guy, but I wish he had... i dunno, a better sense of humor, maybe, or that shit-eating smirk that Jeter carries sometimes. The guy's just not loose.

But I realized something last night in watching that 400th, or was reminded of what I felt when I was at the game where he hit three jacks earlier this year: if Barry Bonds does return to pass Ruth, or even Aaron, then I will gladly stand and celebrate every A-Rod homer on the way up the ladder, because the sooner Bonds' shitstain of a record gets wiped from the leaderboard, the better, and given that Rodriguez is the man with the best shot, I'm happy to root for him in that cause.

25 brockdc   ~  Jun 9, 2005 10:31 pm

25.  Jay: Agreed.

Speaking of the NL, I just realized its hottest hitter is...Nick Johnson.


26 brockdc   ~  Jun 9, 2005 10:38 pm

26.  Jay,

By the way - congrats!

27 singledd   ~  Jun 10, 2005 3:32 am

27.  "...they will have the opportunity to void his three-year, $21-million deal after next season by paying him a $4-million buyout, saving the team $3 million"

This isn't much of escape clause, it just means that Wright will have made $18 mil for 2 years. The Yanks still will need a pitcher and have 4 mil less to get one.

28 Jay Jaffe   ~  Jun 10, 2005 6:19 am

28.  brockdc, thanks!

the wright deal -- that extra $3 mil doesn't really apply to this year's payroll, but it sure would have been nice if it had been allotted to one J. Lieber...

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