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AL East: Sum of All Fears
What is a baseball fan's greatest fear? These days, it is discovering that your favorite player has used performance-enhancing drugs. It's what keeps Red Sox Nation up at night, as they privately hope that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez's accomplishments have been on the up-and-up. It is also what must gnaw at Yankee fans as they witness the best offensive season since the days of Mantle and Maris. Now, aside from a coy remark earlier this summer from Jose Canseco, there is no taint of drug-use in Alex Rodriguez's past, and I'm in no way suggesting that he has used PEDs. But these are cynical times, and it's not hard to let your mind wander. The kid in me just hopes that the giants of the game -- Ortiz, Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, etc -- are not disgraced. Am I just being cynical or would I be naïve if I wasn't thinking about these things?
OK, enough about fears. How about some reality? How good has Rodriguez been? He's the front-runner for the American League MVP (and something truly spectacular would have to happen over the next three weeks for him not to win it), and the only third baseman to ever hit 50 home runs in a season -- he was the only shortstop to hit 50 in a year too. Together, Rodriguez (190 OPS+) and Jorge Posada (159 OPS+) are having the best seasons of any two Yankees since Rickey Henderson (157 OPS+) and Don Mattingly (156 OPS+) in 1985, so writes Steve Lombardi of Was Watching.
I was somewhat amazed that the Royals pitchers continued to pitch to Rodriguez over the weekend even though Hideki Matsui is slumping. But they went after A-Rod, and he bit back. Rodriguez has homered in five straight games; over the last seven, he's hit .560/.633/1.440, with seven homers, eight runs scored and 13 RBIs. For the season, Rodriguez is hitting .318/.424/.672 with 52 home runs, 132 runs, and 140 RBIs in 141 games. Rodriguez's highest single-season slugging percentage was .631 in 1996; his career mark for RBIs, 142, in 2002. This could be the best overall year of his career.
Somehow, all of the talk about Rodriguez not being clutch has not come up this year, even in New York (just wait until October rolls around). With 2 Outs and RISP, Rodriguez is batting .319/.443/.847, and in Late/Close situations, he's .328/.412/.707. Does this mean he qualifies as a true Yankee yet?
Glaus is about to take a place standing next to Rafael Palmeiro on a very short list of All-Star-level players with a proven steroid past. Glaus didn't test positive like Palmeiro, and he never waved his finger at Congress, so it will be interesting to see the public reaction. Was Palmeiro's offense the positive test, or the lying? Does America only care when steroids help break milestones, or is there really outrage at the integrity of the game being compromised? On the heels of Rick Ankiel, Jay Gibbons, and whatever subsequent names get released, it's time to once again look back and decide what's really important--what happened then, or what we can prevent from happening in the future. Baseball's putting its money on the past, which is simply sad.
Labels: AL East
posted by SI.com | View comments |
I'm a Red Sox fan and I hope every day that Derek Jeter never tests positive for steroids (along w/ Papi, Manny, and the rest of Beantown). What I mean, is that I hate seeing my favorite sport, the greatest sport in the world, suffer one blow after another. Ankiel, Glaus, how many more? Somewhere, deep inside, I wish the reporters would stop releasing the info, even though I know they need to, so that the game can be fixed.
What planet is Donovan living on? How many times must the Yankee prove they're better than Boston to get a #1 ranking - They've won 7 of the last 9 against Boston - since May 29th they have won 9 more games than Boston! - So are his rankings based on what happened in April and May? - Please talk to him!
Personally, I dot not see what the big deal is with HGH. How many of the people criticizing its use in professional sports have used it for anti-aging, osteoporosis, weight loss, anti-arthritis, etc. purposes from supplements/beauty clinics. If an athlete wants to recover quickly from an injury using HGH that ANY ONE ELSE CAN the let them. Why should the general public be allowed to use these subtances as they please while athletes cannot?
I also think that baseball fans need to grow up a bit and not be so naive. If they did not make such a huge deal out of it, then things would be okay. Look at the NFL - I would say that the bigger question is how many players have not done roids, HGH or any other PEDs. However, since it is accepted as part of the game there is little backlash from fans. As long as there are big $$$ attached to any sport athletes will do whatever it takes to keep going, just like the general public with steroids and/or HGH in their "anti-aging" treatments.
What planet are YOU living on!
They'll get a #1 ranking when they are ahead of the red sox. That would be like saying the MLB standings page is only paying attention to april and may when they place the red sox above the yankees
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