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Al East: A-Rod gets redemption
Alex Rodriguez ended perhaps his most tumultuous week as a Yankee late Sunday night with a line drive home run into the Red Sox bullpen at Fenway Park in a driving rain. That it came on an 0-2 pitch -- fastball, outside corner -- from Boston's ace reliever, Jonathan Papelbon, and proved to be the game-winner, made it even sweeter for Rodriguez, who graced both the front and back covers of the New York tabloids this past week.
Rodriguez was on the front cover for stepping out with a blonde who is not his wife (give Red Sox fans points for cleverness in how they handled that one). On Friday, he was on the back cover for a ninth-inning incident against the Blue Jays. With the Yankees ahead by a run, Hideki Matsui on second and Rodriguez on first, Jorge Posada lifted a fly ball in the infield between third and short. As the ball hung up in the air, Rodriguez passed between the two fielders and yelled, "Ha!" The ball fell in safely, Matsui scored, and Jason Giambi -- who was later put on the DL for at least 4-6 weeks with a bad foot -- followed with a two-run single.
The Blue Jays were livid with Rodriguez calling his play "bush league" and worse. Toronto manager John Gibbons said, "One thing you know about the Yankees, one of the reason they're so respected, they do things right ... They always have. They have a lot of pride, a lot of class and they play the game hard. And that's not Yankee pride right there. That's not the way they play."
Perhaps that is not the way Joe Torre's teams play, not in these kinder and gentler times. Torre later said that he understood why the Blue Jays were upset. Billy Martin would have loved the play (unless of course somebody had the stones to pull it on him). I'm sure Earl Weaver wouldn't have blinked. And Leo Durocher would have approved. Here's Leo the Lip, from his autobiography, Nice Guys Finish Last -- a book that Bill James considers to be one of the best baseball reads of them all:
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.
Derek Jeter has pulled that stunt -- momentarily falling on a runner so they can't advance -- plenty of times, but he never gets called on it. But this is Rodriguez. As Mike Vaccaro put it: "If Pete Rose did this, men would write poems about grittiness, paeans to aggressiveness. But with A-Rod, it rubs opponents the wrong way."
Rodriguez wasn't having a great weekend series in Boston. The fans were all over him. Last night in the seventh inning, he failed to drive in the tying run with runners at the corners and just one out. But Mr. Tabloid, Mr. Un-Clutch, came through with the biggest hit of the week for Yankees in the ninth. Along with some fine work from Mariano Rivera, Rodriguez and the Yankees were spared a June burial in Boston. They trail the Red Sox by 12.5 games, and the two teams do not meet again until the last week of August. But for one night, as Bob Ryan notes, Rodriguez and the Yankees gave their fans something to cheer about.
Labels: AL East
posted by SI.com | View comments |
I'm a little confused by the title of your blog update. Hitting a home run somehow makes up for Rodriguez dumping his wife (and child) to go out on the town with another woman? How screwed up are your life priorities?
Shut the hell up! First, the redemption referred to his coming through in the clutch after failing earlier with one out and men on the corners (all he needed was a sac fly). Secondly, no one should judge A-Rod but his wife. 1. You do not know the nature of his relationship with his wife, 2. you do not know the nature of his relationship with the blond (a couple of photos does not constitute infidelity, 3. even if he did "step out" as you call it, it does not equal abandoning his child. I bet your dumb ass voted for Bush...
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