Alex Rodriguez says he doesn’t feel like a man on an island, despite the news that the Yankees do not plan on celebrating any of his upcoming career milestones.
BALTIMORE — It was Milestone Monday by the Inner Harbor, and darned if the things didn’t keep turning up like so many crabcakes. Stephen Drew belted a pinch-hit grand slam in the seventh inning that got him within one of the 100-home run mark (and also happened to win the game).
Adam Jones of the Orioles hit his 92nd homer in Camden Yards, moving into second place on the club’s all-time list, and Andrew Miller, late of the Orioles, closed in on the 500-strikeout mark with a dominant save in a 6-5 Yankee victory.
But the most remarkable achievement may have been turned in by Alex Rodriguez, who had no milestones at all. Rather, he played his first road game after the longest drug-suspension in baseball history, and his first game of the year at third base. He handled his two chances spotlessly, went 0-for-4, had minimal impact on the outcome and still wound up being at the center of the evening’s narrative.
This was not necessarily Rodriguez’ objective, at all. It is just part of Being Alex, post-Biogenesis, post-prevarication, and of course, post-suing the team that made him the richest ballplayer in the universe.
That is how we have gotten to this completely absurd juncture in the 2015 season. Alex Rodriguez, former mortal enemy of his own team, is again one of its cornerstones, even at age 39. Alex Rodriguez, all-time great slugger, is on the brink of breaking an iconic baseball record, and his own team is doing everything it possibly can to ignore it.
Maybe you heard: With 655 home runs, Rodriguez is five away from tying the great Willie Mays at 660, fourth on the all-time list, a major milestone by any measure, except to the Yankees, who, apparently with a straight face, release upcoming milestone updates daily, and in Monday’s edition, noted that Rodriguez needs one stolen base to tie Bert Daniels at 146, good for 16th on the Yankees’ all-time steal list.
Somehow, home run No. 660 didn’t make the cut. If you surmise that this oversight has to do with the Yankees’ not wanting to pay Rodriguez a $ 6 million bonus for reaching said milestone because the club views Rodriguez’ PED-aided hitting feats no longer marketable, as the Daily News first reported, well, you go to the head of the detective class.
Barry Bonds, for one, thinks this is unconscionable, and said so in an interview in USA Today, claiming that Rodriguez’ slugging feats should be celebrated.
“Anyone that supports me at this point, it’s well appreciated,” Rodriguez said after the game, when asked about Bonds’ endorsement. “It’s not taken for granted, that’s for sure. But my focus continues to stay between the lines.”
Then Rodriguez was asked how he felt about his own team not celebrating his feats, aside from epic steal, No. 146.
“I’m so focused on baseball. One day I’m at third, one day I’m at first. Maybe tomorrow I’m at DH. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, and I’m having a lot of fun doing it,” he said.
So there you have it. Rodriguez, who figures to end up wrangling with the Yankees before an arbitrator over whether he is entitled to the $ 6 million, wants to play dodgeball. So does his manager, Joe Girardi, who was asked whether he thought the Yankees should salute Rodriguez, per Bonds’ directive, and said, “I’m not going to share my opinion. My job is to get the most out of Alex.”
Truly, all this ultimately comes down to is whether a very rich team will get richer, or a very rich ballplayer will get richer. So let them wrangle, and let the arbitrator arbitrate. On Milestone Night, the Yankees were quite content to win their second straight, and do it with a mighty clout by Drew.
Milestone alert: it was the first Yankee pinch-hit grand slam since Jorge Posada did it, also against the Orioles on June 6, 2001.
That was back when Alex Rodriguez was the best player in baseball, and a Texas Ranger. Things are much more complicated now; it is all part of Being Alex, the proverbial bed he has made. He finds a way to be the story even when he is not the story. Imagine what will happen when he ties Bert Daniels.
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