Thursday, May 14, 2015

A-Rod is starting to look like a 39-year-old DH who missed all of last year and has a barking hammy

In recent years, one dirty little secret of the Yankiverse has been the team's reliance on Alex Rodriguez - yes, the golden calf of meaningless hits - to drive in runs. With A-Rod in the lineup and healthy, they were the Bronx Bombers. Without him, or with him compromised, they became the Toledo Mud Hens.

Last night, it was not fun watching Number 13 jog out grounders a la Robbie Cano (he has a bad hamstring), while the increasingly desperate Stephen Drew played 3B. (One of the saddest parts of baseball is watching former stars go through their final, painful incarnation, and Yankee fans consistently get a ring-side seat.) A-Rod lunged at balls, hitting flies or pounding them into the ground. At one point, he fell to a knee, after trying to drive one into interstellar space. His bombs go far and make neat videos. But he might be on the Ron Kittle De-escalator: The longer the drives, the less frequent they appear.

This spring's feel-good story line has been A-Rod's resurgence. But it's far from completed. He's beaten back the harshest critics, who announced that he would never even play another game. Now comes the hard part: The long, grinding, exhausting season. Two years ago, right before our eyes, Yankee fans watched Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner re-transform from Buddy Love into The Nutty Professor - lisp and all. At age 39, you get no guarantees. And the only thing worse than an injury that benches a player is the one that turns him into a Jerry Lewis nerd, especially when he's batting third.

Last night, A-Rod went 1-5, and every at-bat was critical. In the first, after Ellsbury and Gardner had walked - sending Tampa's pitcher to the abyss - Alex went to a 3-2 count and then flied out to center. In the second, with two outs and runners on first and third, he grounded to SS. In the fourth, he grounded to third. (The next two batters singled, and Tex was thrown out at home.) In the seventh, he singled with one out and was stranded. He made the game's final out, swinging at what should have been ball three.

Right now, the Yankee offense is Gardner and Ellsbury. God help us, if they cool off. The two have scored 52 of the team's 145 earned runs - one out of three. A-Rod has 20 RBIs. He's hitting .243 - up from .227 on May 5. His hamstring is bothering him. How much does he have in the tank?

Last year, the Yankees fell out of first place on May 22. In 2013, they lasted until May 26. If A-Rod goes south, how long will this team stay afloat?


Steve Miller said...

Best Yankee commentary anywhere.

KD said...

I'm studying my own emotions while watching these 2015 Yankees. why A-Rod comes to bat, I stop whatever little side distractions I have going and watch. although he probably wouldn't cross the street to save my life, I'm really rooting for the guy.

hate him or hate him a little bit less, A-Rod is one big reason to watch this team. This must be eating at the Steinspawn bigtime.