In the sixth inning last night, the game in hand already for the Yanks, Alex Rodriguez swung late at a high fastball and muscled a line drive just fair down the right field line. As he slid into second, the bag dislodged and Rodriguez came up with the base in his arms. Then he rolled up to one knee, stood the base up and leaned on it, striking a pose. He tilted his head, looked straight into the Yankee dugout and held back a smile.
A Rod, the goofball. Now, whether some of his teammates were laughing at him and not just along with him, I have no way of knowing, but even if that’s the case (especially if that’s the case), I enjoyed the moment. If Rodriguez has any charm–and their is ample evidence to the contrary–it is that he’s a goofball. Self-aware in a way that’s like a Hollywood Diva–Vogue–but nerdier, the hot chick who gets straight A’s in school. He knows it and when he plays off it with his teammates it makes you think that even if he acts schmucky, maybe he’s not all bad after all.
Rodriguez is pressing at the plate, missing several pitches each game–popping them up, fouling them off, swinging right through them–as he chases career homer #600. There have been articles about how nobody cares about the milestone because it is stained by PEDs, but in New York it makes the back page almost every day. And 600 dingers is an achievement, even if how we feel about achievements in the PED Era has changed, even if it is lessened, because people sit around talking about how 600 homers don’t mean anything anymore. It’s still a topic of conversation. Still the lead story on Sports Center every night.
There will be a sense of relief more than anything else when he finally hits it.
So I’m enjoying it. Makes me feel like a kid every time he’s up, because a home run is all that is asked or expected from him. The announcers rev their engines with every pitch waiting for the big call, dvrs on record at home, the fans snap their cameras–how many thousands of pictures have been erased of Rodriguez not hitting the homer?
He’s in the spotlight and I’ll give him that. He might not know how to manage his star the way Reggie Jackson did, but when he’s on the field, Rodriguez’s talent does have a way of drawing attention.
Probably be the same thing when he’s sitting on 699 if he gets that far. I don’t think he’ll catch Aaron and Bonds but if he stays healthy he’ll beat Aaron for the all-time RBI mark. He’s going to be the most ridiculously overpaid veteran in any sport at any time from here on out. The spotlight will never go away. I’m curious to see how much he’s got left and looking forward to watching how it all plays out.
[Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tony Dejak]