Yesterday, Alex Rodriguez finally snapped out of it to hit his 600th career home run in the Yankees’ 5-1 win over the Blue Jays- salvaging the final game of a three-game series.
In doing so, the future Hall Of Famer (yes, he still is in our book) became just the seventh ballplayer to reach 600 and the youngest ever beating out who else but The Babe. A-Rod recently turned 35 reaches a special milestone at 35 years, eight days with Babe Ruth next youngest at 36 years, 196 days in 1931. However, as was noted in the Yahoo recap, Ruth accomplished it in fewer games (183) due to being a pitcher first with Boston before becoming a full-time slugger. Pretty amazing stuff.
In finally reaching 600 homers, Rodriguez joins tainted record holder Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Ruth (714), Willie Mays (660), recently retired former Mariner teammate Ken Griffey, Jr. (630) and no habla engles Sammy Sosa (609). Pretty exclusive company even if the chase was marred by his steroids admission last year. Sadly, nearly half the list cheated with Bonds and Sosa front and center. It’s still odd that A-Rod also did it because we always thought he stood for integrity. Especially being a baseball guru who prides himself on being the best. Guess it just goes to show that even the most gifted athletes can slip up. Simple message. Trust no one.
It’s a shame that such a remarkable feat which saw the Yankee third baseman hit one off Shaun Marcum into Monument Park is basically acknowledged with a shrug. Something like this should be more celebrated but unfortunately, it was anti-climatic due to circumstance. Baseball is a great sport filled with legions of diehard fans who take pride in the history books. The home run has always been the greatest thrill. Now, it’s forever tainted making the legends before them turn in their graves.
How many of Rodriguez’ 600 blasts were performance enhanced? If you buy the story he gave last year about it just being with Texas, then that’s still a good chunk. He totaled 156 in only three seasons, averaging a gaudy 52-per-year. In already his seventh year in the Bronx including Wednesday’s 17th dinger of 2010, A-Rod is at 255 long balls (36.4) with over seven weeks left. Yes. It’s true that his production has curtailed since a monster ‘07 that saw him hit 54 homers and drive in a career high 156 en route to an MVP.
A-ROD IN DECLINE???
Year GP HR
‘07 158 56
‘08 138 35
‘09 124 30
*’10 101 17
Part of this is due to the chronic hip he had surgery on last year, costing him over a month. Perhaps it’s also a sign that age is finally catching up. During his prime years, Rodriguez was deadly- rarely missing pitches. Even if he’s slowing down, the New York native answered critics last year by still reaching 30 homers and 100 RBI’s while having a memorable postseason filled with clutch home runs- leading the Bronx Bombers to their record 27th championship and first in the A-Rod Era.
What else is there for Rodriguez to accomplish? Well, the questions already started about whether he can catch Bonds, who’s still 162 clear of him. It all depends on health. If he stays healthy and can recapture the stroke that once made him a gimme for 40, then he should be a lock. However, homers are down since Major League Baseball (MLB) cracked down on performance enhancers. When Jose Bautista’s leading the majors with 33 homers, it tells you plenty. It’s become a pitcher’s game again.
A-Rod will still have the advantage of being in the middle of the most potent lineup with Mark Teixeira and Robby Cano providing plenty of support along with Jorge Posada and All-Star Nick Swisher. Will finally ending the 0-for-17 drought and longest between home run 599 and 600 among the Elite Seven get Rodriguez going? You have to think it’ll relax him with a hot streak just around the corner. Amazing that he still has knocked in 87 despite less dingers. No doubt, he’s making his RBI’s count as he paces the Yanks ahead of Teixeira (81) and MVP candidate Cano (71).
If anything, he should be a lock for 27 taking him to 610. Ten more isn’t a lot to ask for one of the greatest superstars the game’s ever seen. Then, it becomes a matter of math. Can he average 30 HR the next four years before he turns 40 in 2015? If Alexander The Great can get back to that level, that would be at least 120 pushing him to 730- making the record attainable.
It should be interesting to follow the plight of A-Rod and whether he can become the new Home Run King. Even if it won’t be fully embraced despite his unique talent.