• What Did A-Rod Do To Celebrate After He Hit #600?

    Posted by on August 6th, 2010 · Comments (7)

    He left Yankee Stadium for a helicopter ride with two Hollywood starlets. It’s not DisneyWorld, but, I suppose it would do…

    Via PopSugar:

    Alex Rodriguez was a lucky man with two beautiful blondes, girlfriend Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow, by his side boarding a helicopter in NYC on Wednesday. The actresses are friends who have worked together on environmental initiatives in the past, and the trio were spotted out to dinner in the city earlier this Summer. This is Gwyneth’s third pal who has been wrapped up with the Yankees slugger after Madonna’s famous relationship and Kate Hudson last year. Alex, Cameron, and Gwyneth headed off to celebrate his milestone 600th career home run, which he hit earlier in the day. Cameron and Alex were caught together on video on their way to the heliport, though the famous couple won’t be sitting down for lunch with a fan any time soon since no one caught the lucky ball.

    The pictures are here.

    I guess that Curtis Granderson and Robbie Cano had plans that afternoon – so, Alex took the girls instead. Either that, or, Rob Dibble was right.

    Is A-Rod Disingenuous & Does It Matter?

    Posted by on August 5th, 2010 · Comments (35)

    Everyone has an opinion on Alex Rodriguez and his 600th career home run today.  Here are just a few:

    And, the back page of the Daily News was not kind to A-Rod.

    In the past 15 hours, I’ve listened to quite a bit of sports talk radio – both local and national outlets – and the coverage on A-Rod has been huge. I’ve heard from media members who covered Alex in Seattle and beyond. I’ve heard from former players who once played against him. I’ve heard from former players who claim to have friends among the current members of the Yankees team. And, I’ve heard from media members and baseball commentators – again, both local and national.

    And, the word that’s come up the most when discussing Rodriguez, how he acts, what people think of him, etc. was: Disingenuous.

    That’s a somewhat fancy word. And, for those not into those types of words, this is what it means: Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating.

    Is A-Rod disingenuous? Yeah, I can see how some people would feel that way about him.

    But, here’s the question – is that condition enough to bring cause for you, as a baseball fan, to dislike the player and not be enamored with his accomplishments?

    Me? I think it’s basic human nature to follow this course. Ever meet someone for the first time and your immediate impression, based on the way they act and what they say, is “Holy Smokes! This guy is full of BLEEP!” I think many have had this happen at one time or another, no? And, when it does, do you not then form an opinion of dislike for the person? Again, I think many people would react this way.

    Forget that it’s “Alex Rodriguez” and assume it’s someone else, anyone, real or imagined. But, say that there’s a strong case that the ballplayer is disingenuous. Would that vibe rub you the wrong way and be a major turn-off regarding said player?

    Finally, #600!

    Posted by on August 4th, 2010 · Comments (17)

    A-Rod goes yard in today’s game – bottom of the first.

    Is A-Rod’s Chase For 600 Hurting Yankees In Race?

    Posted by on August 4th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    I’m guessing that A-Rod won’t be having sleep-overs at Kevin Kernan’s place any time soon…

    Nerves & Lack Of PEDs Behind A-Rod’s Failures?

    Posted by on August 3rd, 2010 · Comments (21)

    Bob Klapisch weighs in on Alex Rodriguez today -

    You had to listen hard, really hard, but there was no mistaking the boos that sprinkled over Alex Rodriguez like a light mist in the ninth inning. He had failed (again) to convert on a chance for career home run No. 600, and the crowd, already irritable from A.J. Burnett’s collapse, had finally reached its breaking point.

    Yes, a small number of fans really did turn against Rodriguez, who’s gone 43 at-bats since his last home run with no sign of a breakthrough. His swing has become choppy and mechanical. Pitchers are challenging him without fear. Fastballs are beating Rodriguez in the heart of the strike zone.

    Those are the red flags a hitting instructor sees. Joe Girardi, however, picks up on the body language of his troubled slugger. It’s those deep breaths A-Rod takes before he steps into the batter’s box: They’ve become so exaggerated even the Lamaze handbook would consider them a hazard. It’s not an encouraging sign for a slugger looking to make history.

    This extended drought is bound to raise questions about Rodriguez’s long-term resiliency. It’s crazy to even ask, but the Yankees have to wonder which A-Rod will be occupying the cleanup spot in the postseason.

    Will it be the one who was practically unstoppable last October, the one who hit six home runs with 18 RBI? The one who finally broke through as a mainstream Yankee? Rodriguez finally had turned off the spigot on his narcissism, trading in the ego for a World Series ring. Taking down Barry Bonds’ home run was the next soft target.

    But the quest for No. 600 has peeled away a few layers of A-Rod’s psychological flesh, revealing the anxious, self-doubting A-Rod of old. Forty-three at-bats are too many to blame bad mechanics. It’s all about anxiety now, nourishing itself one failed plate appearance at a time.

    Rodriguez actually is fighting a two-front war, both against his nerves and Mother Nature. At 35, he’s clearly begun his decline phase – evidenced by a 62 at-bat home run drought earlier this season and one that spanned 72 at-bats in 2009. Before 2010, Rodriguez averaged one home run every 14 at-bats; this year that ratio has plummeted to one every 23.

    He’s reached the age that, without chemicals and amphetamines, the muscles no longer fire as quickly. Recovery takes longer. He tires more easily. That, coupled with the stress of the last two weeks, A-Rod’s bat feels heavier, although he’s desperate enough for positive signs to have said, “I thought I swung the bat a little better [Monday].”

    Two lines here really caught my attention:

    …But the quest for No. 600 has peeled away a few layers of A-Rod’s psychological flesh, revealing the anxious, self-doubting A-Rod of old…

    and

    …He’s reached the age that, without chemicals and amphetamines, the muscles no longer fire as quickly. Recovery takes longer. He tires more easily. That, coupled with the stress of the last two weeks, A-Rod’s bat feels heavier…

    So, what do you think? Do you agree with what Bob’s saying here? Why?

    Me? I think they’re both valid points. I’m not saying they’re correct – because I don’t know. Yet, I think they’re at least worth examining and discussing, etc. But, I would be interested in hearing how others feel on this as well.

    Is A-Rod Losing It?

    Posted by on August 2nd, 2010 · Comments (12)

    Frankie Piliere thinks that:

    …the reality is that it’s increasingly likely that we’ve seen the last of Alex Rodriguez as a dominant offensive force. The hitter he is now is far from washed up, but at his age, and with his lower half seeming to fail him at least in comparison to how it once helped him, you have to begin to wonder if those power numbers will ever fully return.

    Click here to see all of what Piliere has to say on this matter.

    Of course, if A-Rod hits four homeruns in tonight’s game, this will probably change how some feel about this topic…

    A-Rod Not In Starting Line-Up For Today’s Game Vs. Rays

    Posted by on August 1st, 2010 · Comments (7)

    I guess this game is not that important enough to have the ‘team’s greatest player since he’s been with the Yankees’ in the line-up. Either that, or, A-Rod has something barking, as Joe Torre liked to say…

    What To Do With A-Rod’s Ball?

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    Via Rick Mayer -

    Only six major-league players have topped the 600 plateau: Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Willie Mays (660), Ken Griffey Jr. (630) and Sammy Sosa (609). So, the next ball A-Rod plops over a fence will be worth thousands on the sports collectible market.

    Consider that when A-Rod knocked out No. 500 in 2007, it was auctioned three years later for $103,579. It’s not known who sold or bought the ball, but it was caught by Walter Kowalczyk, of Trenton, N.J., at old Yankee Stadium.

    Rodriguez and the Yankees attempted to purchase the ball from Kowalczyk, but a deal was apparently never consummated.

    Bonds’ 756th home run ball from 2007, which bested Aaron’s all-time mark, was auctioned for $752,467, well more than the estimates by memorabilia experts. It was caught in San Francisco by Matt Murphy, a 21-year-old student from New York.

    With that in mind, outfield seats are the place to be when the Yankees and Rays battle for first place in the AL East tonight through Sunday.

    Major League Baseball has been putting special numbered balls in play each time Rodriguez comes to bat for identification purposes. Should a fan collect No. 600, that individual will need to prove it by presenting the ball with the appropriate marked number.

    By the way, did anyone else hear that sound bite of Suzyn Waldman yesterday, on WFAN’s Boomer and Carton? In case you missed it, the clip was Suzyn screeching “Alex has special balls!” (from the broadcast of Wednesday’s game).

    Man, it was classic. Right up there with NPR’s Delicious Dish segment on Schweddy Balls.

    Rays Maddon Says PEDs Take Away From A-Rod’s 600th

    Posted by on July 30th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    Via Mark Feinsand

    Alex Rodriguez’s quest for 600 home runs hasn’t generated the national interest that such a milestone used to bring.

    Some have speculated that the interest level is down because Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr. both reached 600 in the past decade, but Joe Maddon believes that A-Rod’s involvement with performance-enhancing drugs is a bigger factor.

    “Because of all the subplots involved, I think that’s why you’re not getting as much of a build-up,” the Rays manager said before Thursday’s game against the Tigers. “I don’t think that it’s worn off. I think when Jim Thome arrives nearer that point you’re going to see the same kind of previous build-up, I believe, as an example. I think based on the revelations of the last couple years, I think it probably detracts from it a bit.”

    Well, this will just add a little spice to this weekend series in Tampa, won’t it?

    Applauding Alex

    Posted by on July 28th, 2010 · Comments (24)

    Sweeny Murti likes the way A-Rod has handled the chase for #600 this season. Here are two snips from what he’s written on it –

    I don’t usually give Alex Rodriguez much credit for things he says. When he does his talking on the field, there is little to argue. He is one of the greatest players of all-time. But when he opens his mouth, he usually ends up sticking both feet in it. There are no “thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee” or “luckiest man on the face of the earth” moments here. So it is with great wonder, amazement, and downright admiration that I applaud A-Rod for his public comments leading up to #600.

    During the prelude to 600 A-Rod has steered away from any statements remotely celebrating the achievement, continuing to preach the importance of the team’s winning ways. The guy who used to be all about ME is now about WE. I don’t know if it’s calculated or not, but it’s the smartest move A-Rod has made in a long time.

    A-Rod brings enough scorn upon himself just for being A-Rod, the highest paid player everyone loves to hate on the team everyone loves to hate. If he chose to make celebratory statements about reaching this milestone it would take about a nanosecond for people like you and me to crush him for conveniently ignoring his three-year period of admitted steroid use.

    But if A-Rod never pats himself on the back, he doesn’t open the door to all that criticism. Sure, we can all look at the home run total and make of it what we wish. But for those of us who have made a habit of taking what the guy says, shaking our heads and laughing at him…well, we are all out of luck this time.

    The guy who is a walking, talking PR nightmare is actually saying the right things for once.

    Of course, there’s an “after” to be considered here as well – not just the “before.” And, hopefully, once A-Rod does hit #600, Rodriguez handles it as well as he is handling the “before” period. I’m not saying that Alex won’t or can’t do this – just saying that the possibility still exists that this event could turn into a bad PR thing, if not handled tastefully, and that would erase how it’s been handled up to this point.

    A-Rod Sets HR Record On His 35th Birthday

    Posted by on July 27th, 2010 · Comments (0)

    Well…kinda

    Prior to this season, of all the players with 600 career homeruns, Willie Mays took the longest in between #599 and #600, needing 21 At Bats to reach the milestone.

    Alex Rodriguez hit his 599th career homerun on July 22nd (this season) in the bottom of the 7th inning in a game against the Royals. And, he’s gone “homer less” in the 21 At Bats to follow that blast – including tonight’s game, which was played on his 35th birthday. This ties the “21 At Bat” spell set by Mays. And, considering that A-Rod’s next At Bat will be his 22nd since his 599th career homerun, he will now own the “Most At Bats needed between HR #599 and #600″ record – locking it up with his “collar” this evening.

    Ben Reiter Salutes The New A-Rod

    Posted by on July 27th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    Click here to read the feature.  There’s too much good stuff in there to decide which to snip – so, I’ll just say “Check it out!’  The quotes from Torii Hunter, CC Sabathia and Francisco Cervelli alone make this one an interesting read.

    Feinstein On A-Rod & His 600th: I Don’t Care About It

    Posted by on July 27th, 2010 · Comments (9)

    John Feinstein offers some opinion on A-Rod’s pending 600th career homerun. Here it is:

    The greatest myth about the steroid era is that there were no rules against them until the union and owners finally got together on drug-testing in 2003. In fact, Fay Vincent banned steroids in 1991 after they were declared illegal by the government but the ban was toothless since there was no testing and the government wasn’t exactly storming clubhouses demanding that players be tested. The players knew the drugs were illegal and against the rules. They also knew they weren’t very likely to get caught.

    Of course a lot of players have been caught: some by good reporting and some by The Mitchell Report. Others have simply been considered guilty due to overwhelming circumstantial evidence—which, given that this isn’t a court of law and we aren’t talking about sending people to jail in most cases—is evidence enough.

    So, back to the question: Does anyone really care about A-Rod hitting his 600th home run?

    My answer is no. I didn’t care when Bonds hit 756 and I was horrified when Henry Aaron showed up on that video congratulating him. It was bad enough that Bud Selig trailed him for a while during the chase; bad enough (though hardly surprising) that ESPN glorified him but really depressing when Aaron gave in and did the video.

    Now, A-Rod isn’t as surly a guy as Bonds. He tries to say all the right things—though he often fails. But he’s just as tainted as far as I’m concerned and just as un-deserving of the Hall of Fame down the road as Bonds is undeserving of it now. Here’s my bet: A-Rod will make the Hall on the first ballot; second ballot at worst. Why? Because the excuse-makers are already coming out of the woodwork on his behalf; because there will be a greater passage of time and because people will by the argument that only 136 of his 868 career home runs were steroid-induced. And let’s not forget the ever-popular, “how many of the pitchers he faced were juiced?” argument.

    Here’s what I think and have always thought: None of these guys should ever go in. Not Bonds, not Sosa, not Clemens, not A-Rod, not McGwire, not Palmeiro—none of them. If there’s any evidence at all (and in most of these cases there is plenty) then they’re guilty. My 600 home run club is Aaron, Ruth, Mays and Ken Griffey Jr. That’s it. Forget Bonds, forget Sosa and forget A-Rod whenever he gets there.

    There sure is a lot of opinion on A-Rod and this event, isn’t there?

    If Jim Thome hadn’t got hurt in 2005, and was going for his 600th career homer this season, would as many have cared about him and the milestone?

    Yeah, I know, Thome was never caught or named as a PED user – like A-Rod. And, for many, that’s the difference, I suppose…

    Barra On A-Rod, Yankees Fans & The N.Y. Press

    Posted by on July 26th, 2010 · Comments (23)

    Allen Barra writes about “The unpopular case for A-Rod’s brilliance.” Here’s a snip -

    I’m suggesting that it might be good idea for Yankee fans to get used to the fact that Alex Rodriguez is one of the greatest players in baseball history, which they haven’t so much denied as simply declined to consider.

    Rodriguez gets plenty of press in New York, but even after leading his team to a pennant and World Series win last year, most of it is still negative. For all the ink on him, including Selena Roberts’s 2009 book, properly called by former New Times columnist Murray Chass “a journalistic disgrace” — we really know very little about him.

    No one, to my knowledge, has even attempted a genuine in-depth profile of Rodriguez. We know which movie star he’s dating, which nightclub he was at last night, and, every couple of months, when he gets together with his children – but that’s about it.

    Exactly why the New York press and fans have never warmed up to Alex Rodriguez isn’t clear. None of the most popular reasons provide a satisfactory answer on their own. Some still insist that he’s arrogant, though egotistical might be the more appropriate term. At any rate, he’s nowhere near Reggie Jackson’s league when it comes to arrogance, and fans here loved Reggie. His brief association with steroids while he was with the Texas Rangers didn’t help, but then both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz have also been tainted by steroid use, and it didn’t hurt their popularity with their home teams (or even at the New Yorker). Has he really lost favor with fans just for dating celebrities?

    So, what do you think? Why has “the New York press and fans have never warmed up to Alex Rodriguez”? And, is A-Rod “…one of the greatest players in baseball history”?

    Will A-Rod Be Stuck On #599 For A While Now Thanks To Blake Wood?

    Posted by on July 25th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    Well, for sure, I don’t think those who stuck out a 2 hour and 32 minute rain delay at Yankee Stadium were hoping to see this in the 8th inning today, for sure…

    It’s 6:40 pm EST now.  We’ll have to wait and see if Wood plunking Alex Rodriguez will cause A-Rod to miss a lot of time…

    Update 7:15 pm ET: Per Joe Girardi in the post-game, Alex has a bruise on his hand and there’s no plan for any X-rays. That’s good and strange news. Nice to see it’s not worse. Weird considering the Yankees usually send a guy to the hospital for a battery of tests and scans when he just has something as minor as jock-itch…

    Dahlberg On A-Rod’s Milestone

    Posted by on July 22nd, 2010 · Comments (12)

    Today, Tim Dahlberg, a national sports columnist for The Associated Press, lets loose on A-Rod in a feature. Here’s a few snips –

    Sometime over the next few games or perhaps the next few weeks, Alex Rodriguez will find a pitch he likes and make baseball history.

    His name will go up among the greats of the game. His accomplishment, though, will always stand alone.

    Yes, six others are already in the 600 home run club. But how about a big hand for the first admitted steroid user to take his place among the slugging elite?

    Yankee fans undoubtedly will give A-Rod just that when he becomes the youngest ever to reach the milestone. Remember, he was only juiced (or so he says) before he put on the pinstripes.

    Forgive me, though, if I don’t stand up and cheer. Because we’ve all seen this act before.

    A magical mark. A tainted player.

    Another entry into the record books we can’t believe.

    About the only thing missing is an immense, shaven head and the traveling circus that always seemed to surround it. Say what you will about Barry Bonds, he always made for good entertainment.

    There’s nothing terribly entertaining about A-Rod reaching 600. It’s a joyless occasion for all but the most blinded Yankee fans.

    With A-Rod, there is no guessing. He cheated and was forced to admit it.

    His numbers are as bogus as some of the muscles he grew with chemical help. His legacy is as tainted as any of his fellow sluggers in the steroid era.

    A-Fraud, indeed. The only question is how much of a fraud.

    Would he have reached 600 by the age of 35 without steroids? Hardly.

    Would he be on track to becoming the greatest home run hitter ever without juice? Not a chance.

    Even if you believe Rodriguez when he says he used steroids only when he was playing for the Texas Rangers, his march through the record books can’t be seen as anything but illegitimate. The problem is there’s no way to separate what was real from a very gifted player and what was supplemented by a very gifted chemist.

    That has to be grating on Rodriguez, who has always been so concerned with numbers that he probably stayed up late every night studying them. Even as he carefully carves out a new persona he has to wonder how No. 600 would have played out on the big New York stage had SI not outed him.

    “For me the whole thing as I approach 600 the thing I think about is the perspective of where I was when I hit 500. How things are different now,” Rodriguez said Tuesday. “For me early on, I just thought it was about accumulating numbers.”

    The only consolation for baseball fans is that those numbers seem to be getting harder and harder to accumulate. Rodriguez needed home runs in his last two at-bats of the 2009 season to avoid not hitting 30 home runs for the first time since 1997 and has just 15 home runs more than halfway through this season.

    O.K., I’ll just hang up now and listen to your reaction…

    Not All Juiced For A-Rod’s 600th?

    Posted by on July 20th, 2010 · Comments (14)

    Ken Rosenthal, today, writes “A-Rod’s suddenly an afterthought” – and here’s a snip from that:

    [Alex Rodriguez is] no longer is the best all-around player on his team; second baseman Robinson Cano holds that distinction. Nor is he even the best third baseman in his division; the Rays’ Evan Longoria has surpassed A-Rod and the Red Sox’s Adrian Beltre is having a better year.

    Longoria, in only his third season, has beaten A-Rod to two straight All-Star elections. He also is more visible than Rodriguez as a commercial pitchman.

    In fact, A-Rod ranks only ninth among baseball’s most marketable players according to a new survey by SportsBusiness Daily. Derek Jeter — surprise! — tops the list. David Wright, the other third baseman in New York, also ranks ahead of Rodriguez, in eighth place.

    A-Rod’s 600th homer will not alter that dynamic.

    The Yankees did not know that A-Rod had used steroids when they re-signed him in Dec. 2007. But, considering the excesses of the Steroid Era, they should have suspected that his place in history might not be secure.

    Some marketing bonanza.

    A-Rod is two homers shy of 600, and if fans are clapping at all, they’re clapping with one hand.

    I’m starting to get the feeling that, when Rodriguez does hit #600, not all of the press coverage on this event is going to be favorable to Alex…

    …and, in fact, maybe most of it is going to be negative. And, if so, I wonder if A-Rod will have any reaction to that?

    If Alex does comment on the coverage, I just hope he carefully chooses his words…and doesn’t flame the whole thing into something worse.

    Predicting A-Rod’s 600th HR

    Posted by on July 19th, 2010 · Comments (9)

    Alex Rodriguez is two homers short of 600 career big flies. When will the big six-oh-oh show?

    My gut feeling is that it could take as long as 6 to 11 more games for it to happen. And, this is where it gets interesting.

    After today, the Yankees have six more games on their current homestand – two with the Angels and four with the Royals. If A-Rod hits #600 on the homestand, there will be a nice reaction for him at Yankee Stadium.

    But, if Alex needs more than 6 games to reach the milestone, it could come on the Yankees next road trip – which is 3 games in Cleveland followed by 3 in Tampa Bay.

    If it takes A-Rod 11 more games to get the big one, then it will come in Tampa Bay – and the reaction there should be good for him as there are many Yankees fans in Tampa.

    But, what if #600 comes for Rodriguez in Cleveland? How will the crowd react to that? In fact, will there be many there, period, to see it?

    In any event, what’s your prediction for when #600 comes, where, and what the reaction will be?