"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

What, Me Worry?

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]

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1 Ben   ~  Jul 29, 2010 10:34 am

I like Arod now. It took me a long while to warm up to the guy. Talent aside, I just couldn't relate to him. So much drama, even in his atbats, or the way he worked through a slump, and shook off an error in the field - just didn't like his face. Stupid, maybe but there it is.

He's totally won me over now. Clown? Diva? Headcase? Maybe. But he's family now. You know, in that millionaire who I watch on tv kind of family way.

2 Diane Firstman   ~  Jul 29, 2010 10:39 am

A friend asked me a question regarding this play. Would A-Rod had been declared out had he been tagged while holding the base with the base out of its moorings? Would it have mattered if he took the base with him a few feet past the "outline" of the base as he slid, and was then tagged?

Would some daring and adept (perhaps stupid) baserunner be able to use this "base removal" to his advantage in somehow being able to slide later/harder and take the base with him?

3 Ben   ~  Jul 29, 2010 10:51 am

from mlb rule book online

APPROVED RULING: (2) If a base is dislodged from its position during a play, any following runner on the same play shall be considered as touching or occupying the base if, in the umpire’s judgment, he touches or occupies the point marked by the dislodged bag.

Too bad. couldve redefined the term 'stole second'

4 Diane Firstman   ~  Jul 29, 2010 10:52 am

I think most of us WANT to like A-Rod, but much of what he does/says makes it hard.

I still can't wrap my head around him being a "true Yankee" (whatever that means). I still see his connection/manipulation with Boras, and his dalliances off the field, and the need to use PEDs, and it prevents me from fully "accepting" him. He's a hired gun, the most expensive one in the shop.

Now, I will give him props for not causing a fuss in moving to 3B when he got to NY, but beyond that .... he doesn't seem to have a truly soulful presence to me ... its all artifact and aire and image.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 29, 2010 10:57 am

5) May be true but he's now played more games for the Yanks than any other team. And he sure has produced since he's been here.

6 Diane Firstman   ~  Jul 29, 2010 11:05 am


Alex ... let me ask you this ... would you consider Swisher a true Yankee? I think his personality is not Yankee-centric ... he's been a "let's have fun" free-spirit wherever he's played. But I would suggest he's already been "accepted" by the Yankee fans as a "true Yankee" .... as in ... plays the game right ... shows that he cares ... appreciates the fans ... appreciates the Pinstripes (and the history therein).

A friend of mine, when I mentioned my hesitancy towards A-Rod, pointed out that Paul O'Neill was traded to the Yanks, and everyone considers him to be a "true Yankee", so how do you define "acceptance" and/or "true Yankee".

7 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 29, 2010 11:14 am

I don't think there is any true book on that. Does Swisher sell more shirts than A Rod? Probably not. Do I think Swisher is a "true Yankee"? No, not really. Not yet.

A Rod's been here seven years now, that's true enough for me. If true means being embraced by a majority of the fans, then no, he's not a true one. He'll never be Randolph or Guidry or Mantle or Jeter.

I don't know if Reggie was ever truly embraced by more than half of Yankee fans, though he had the incredible advantage of winning the first two years he was here. But some Yankee fans never cottened to Reggie. Just as they'll never like Rodriguez. I get that, and think you are right. For some he'll never be true. But that's a narrow way to categorize someone and misses out on what the guy does offer (instead of being fixated on what he's not--clutch, sincere, likable, whatever).

But give me the guy, clown or not, who drives in 100 RBI 7-years straight and he's a true Yankee to me. Guy works hard. Always plays hard. Don't care if he's a phony or neurotic, I'll take that guy.

8 monkeypants   ~  Jul 29, 2010 11:23 am

I don't subscribe much to the "true" yankee thing. But when I think about it, my guidelines would be very, very selective. As such, neither Moose (for example) or A-Rod, or even Reggie would be true Yankees. I still don't think Reggie's number should be retired. I'll probably catch flak for this one.

9 Ben   ~  Jul 29, 2010 11:57 am

[8] I hear you. It's like th Hall of Fame. Should great players be in, or should only the greatest of the great?

The Yanks have room for at least two echelons of memorable players. A-rod, Moose, Reggie are in one. Even Paulie O. True yankees, to me, are rare because they must be great players, have had great careers and played most, in not all their games as Yankees. Amazingly we have 3 (4, Petite?) that fit that criteria now.

10 rbj   ~  Jul 29, 2010 12:12 pm

[8] I'm with you on Reggie's number. He just wasn't in NY long enough for me. Now what is "long enough," I have no concrete answer, it's just a gut level decision.

11 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jul 29, 2010 12:23 pm

[9] Andy is the truest of the true. Just to make that 100% crystal clear. If there's such a thing as a True Yankee, Andy's it.

12 Diane Firstman   ~  Jul 29, 2010 12:54 pm


I only wish Andy hadn't gone to Houston for those 3 seasons, but I won't fret ...

13 Ben   ~  Jul 29, 2010 1:07 pm

[11] Awright. I was just alluding to his 3 seasons with Houston. Nothing against the guy.

For me he slots in behind Jeter and Mo, but ahead of Po. Whaddya know -

14 monkeypants   ~  Jul 29, 2010 1:14 pm

[13] Ahead of Posada? Hm.

Posada: 16 seasons, 14 "real" seasons, 13 as the starter (12, if you take out injury-plagued 2008), ALL with the Yankees, 0 seasons with another team.

Pettitte: 16 seasons, 16 "real" seasons (14 real seasons is you take out injury plagued 2002 and 2004), 13 with the Yankees (or 12 "real" seasons, if you take out injury-plagued 2002), 3 with another team.

If I'm gonna play this game, Pettitte definitely slots behind Posada.

15 OldYanksFan   ~  Jul 29, 2010 1:15 pm

ARod's ages in Texas were 26-28. During those 3 years, in a very Homer friendly park, he averaged 52 HRs.

4 years later, at age 32, hitting in unfriendly Yankee stadium LF, he hit 54 HRs.

So yeah... his 52 HR avg in Texas was better then his 42 HR avg as a Yankee... but considering age and ballpark, his Texas numbers are hardly out of line. I mean, does he have an extra 20 PED assisted HRs? I doubt that.

While you can't believe anything a player says when explaining how they got their hand stuck in the PED cookie jar, ARod did say he doesn't know if he even did them correctly. Since he didn't seem terribly bulked up, and he numbers seem in line... I almost believe him. I mean, he had his COUSIN get them for him and didn't seem to have much of a plan.

So the media can cry foul and shame ARod for his PED usage, but realistically, I don't think his career numbers have much assistance built in.

16 monkeypants   ~  Jul 29, 2010 1:26 pm

[15] but realistically, I don’t think his career numbers have much assistance built in.

Whatever. This topic comes up again and again, and a few of us debate it in circles. Maybe PEds didn't help him much. But then, the all-time HR list is now littered with PEd-associated guys. Coincidence? I don't think so, even if I can't prove it.

But in the end, so what? HRs have been flying out of the park at historic rates over the last decade or so. Whatever the reasons, it's a bore. I have to admit, I don't really care about A-Rod's pursuit of the (sort of) historic 600 HRs. He'll be the fourth guy to do it in the last few years.

An impressive career total, yes. A meaningful milestone for me to get worked up about? Nope.

17 OldYanksFan   ~  Jul 29, 2010 1:28 pm

[8] Couldn't agree more. Retiring his number was a sham, a bit of ass-kissing from George in hopes of another NY cap in the HOF. He's an Oakland A who visited NY for 5 years (and averaged 29 HRs). He also played in Cali for 5 years.

He was a great player... but a hired gun for sure....
and not what I'd call a true Yankee.

18 Yankee Mama   ~  Jul 29, 2010 1:29 pm

I thought ARod was cute last night. That smile warmed me up to him. I was wondering why Yes didn't flash to the dugout, so that we could see the reaction of his teammates, the very ones he was looking at. It made me realize how much I want to like him.

All of his oddness aside, he is one of the lucky in life who gets to do for a living exactly what he wants to do in the top echelon of ability and talent while making boat loads of dough. I'm glad he's doing all that for the Yankees. It makes for good theater.

19 Ben   ~  Jul 29, 2010 2:11 pm

[14] Your probably right. Luckily they both have monuments when all is said and done.

20 Chyll Will   ~  Jul 29, 2010 4:43 pm

[17] I disagree. Reggie was in NY for five years, but he left his heart here even when hew as traded back to Cali and finished out in Oakland. Reggie probably figures his greatest career achievements were with the Yankees and he'd probably believe that if he was only here one year. To me, numbers don't determine where your heart is, your heart does and Reggie has shown in and out of baseball that he's a Yankee. I would say the same for Winfield and Billy Martin and even Homer Bush.

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