Thanks, A-Rod. Thanks for dumping a cold, wet corpse on the doorstep of New York baseball. That seems to be the local sports media’s reaction to Alex Rodriguez’s 600th major league home run, which put him 7th on the all-time home run list. Not the fans’ reaction — they’ve turned out in droves and, judging from the posters and signs they bring to the ballpark, most appear to be quite thrilled by A-Rod’s achievement.
Sportswriters, though, continue to carry a grudge. George Vecsey, for instance, in today’s New York Times: “It’s a number. A nice round number, but still, just a number.”
Yes, George, we know. They’re all numbers.
When Rodriguez passes up Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds, those will be “just numbers,” too. And hitting 600 runs “is no guarantee Rodriguez will gain automatic acceptance into the Baseball Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible five years after retirement.”
Is Vecsey serious? Even if you toss out Rodriguez’s three seasons at Texas, he would still have 449 career home runs and two Most Valuable Player Awards. Might that, combined with what he’ll do for the rest of his career, be enough to merit “automatic acceptance” to the HOF?
The Daily News lobbed their own rotten tomato, practically as Rodriguez was rounding the bases: The back page read “Congrats*” with the asterisk “On your tainted milestone.” Mike Lupica — of course — had to put his own damper on A-Rod/600.
“The crowd’s roar” — when the home run was hit — was loud, but “just not as loud as it would have been if he hadn’t admitted to being a juicer, not as loud as it was last year when Derek Jeter passed Lou Gehrig in this place to become the Yankees’ all-time hit leader … “
Yes, that’s right, we forgot — Alex Rodriguez isn’t a real Yankee, the way Derek Jeter is. The way Reggie Jackson was, even though he was only in New York for five seasons and wasn’t the ballplayer A-Rod is. Lupica quoted a comment from Barry Bonds’ website, “‘Welcome to the club.’ Yeah, they’re in the same club.”
Yeah, Mike, the same club with your boys Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. You know, those guys you cheered shamelessly for all those years when they both played for the Red Sox, and whose own steroid use you all but ignored when it was made public.
Also in the Daily News today, Christian Red tracked down Willie Mays for a comment on Rodriguez’s 600th:
“That’s good. Tell him good luck. He’ll be fine. He’s been a good player for a long time.” When Red tried to turn the question to Rodriguez’s admitted use of PEDS, Mays cut him off: “You called about the hit, and I’ve talked about that. We need to support him.” Good for you, Willie.
By the way, as I’ve taken pains to point out many times, not only was A-Rod’s steroid use not in violation of MLB rules — there was nothing in the Basic Agreement on any PEDs back in 2003 — there isn’t the slightest evidence that any drug boosted Rodriguez’s numbers from 2001-2003 in any way. His slight increase in home runs from Seattle to Texas was no greater than the rest of the league’s when batting in the Rangers’ home ball park, which was among the best hitter’s parks in MLB.