"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

I’ve Got You…Under My Skin

The Yanks won and the Sox lost last night. I know it’s my birthday tomorrow but I didn’t know it was a holiday (okay, it wasn’t all good, see the latest on Phil Hughes). The Yanks scored early–Johnny Damon led off the game with a home run and later collected the 2,000 hit of his career–and late, and Alex Rodriguez was in the middle of a controversial play, what the Blue Jays later called “a bush league play.”

According to the Times:

The Yankees were leading the Toronto Blue Jays by two runs in an eventual 10-5 victory when Jorge Posada lifted a lazy fly ball to third base with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. Third baseman Howie Clark camped under it, but he backed off just after Rodriguez ran slowly past him.

Rodriguez said he shouted “Ha” as he passed Clark, who was fooled into thinking that the shortstop, John McDonald, had called for the ball. When Clark backed away, the ball dropped safely onto the turf for a run-scoring single.

Jason Giambi followed with a single scoring two more runs and that was the game. It was a much-needed win for New York (Mariano Rivera got four outs to record the save), but after the game, Rodriguez, who made the front and back cover of the Daily News today for very different reasons, was the topic of conversation. Matt Stairs called it a “horsesh**t” play; the Blue Jays manager said it was not the way the Yankees play baseball.

It was a high school play, all-schoolyard, for sure. But the Jays are upset because they allowed such a thing to happen in the first place. Howie Clark, the third baseman, was playing in his first big league game of the year.

Mike Vaccarro hit the nail on the head in the Post this morning:

Put it this way: If Pete Rose did this, men would write poems about grittiness, paeans to aggressiveness. But with A-Rod, it rubs opponents the wrong way.

Put it another way: the next time the Yankees face the Blue Jays, the next time A-Rod steps in against A.J. Burnett or Roy Halladay, he may want to wear two batting helmets.

But as Leo Durocher once wrote:

If a man is sliding into second base and the ball goes into center field, what’s the matter with falling on him accidentally so that he can’t get up and go to third? If you get away with it, fine. If you don’t, what have you lost? I don’t call that cheating; I call that heads-up baseball. Win any way you can as long as you can get away with it.

Let’s give Emma Span the final word this morning:

Personally, I get a kick out this stuff. Dirty plays that might get someone hurt are dangerous, and no fun to watch; but as far as I’m concerned, anything and everything goes when messing with your opponent’s head. After McDonald and Clark and even Gibbons finished barking at him, A-Rod stood at third clearly trying to suppress a grin, and not quite succeeding. Ha! Matsui scored on the play, and The Yanks went on to win 10-5.

…Look, I wish I could offer more lofty sentiments, but let’s be honest. At this point in the Yankees’ season, if getting an actual win requires A-Rod to screw thirteen transvestite prostitutes, on a pile of corked bats, in front of Babe Ruth’s plaque in Monument Park? Fine.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver