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Posts Tagged ‘Hank Aaron’

Is Alex Rodriguez getting older and not quite the player he was 5 years ago?

Yes.

Iis A-Rod still one of the five most dominant players in Major League Baseball, capable at any time of doing something truly amazing?

Also yes.

And therein lies the quandary for most Yankee fans: how to reconcile those two facts. Oh, that – and many fans still seem to think of A-Rod as some type of  pinstriped imposter, last year’s postseason be damned. I have heard throughout the season rumblings and grumblings that A-Rod is “back” to his “choking” self; unable to handle pressure and not really as good as his career stats would seem to indicate.

I wonder: do those “fans” really think that Charlie Hayes or Mike Pagliarulo were better third basemen?

Look – every season A-Rod has been in pinstripes, he’s treated us to some sort of other-worldly performance. Last night’s 3 homer performance was just the latest. To put that in historical perspective, only one player has homered three times in a game more often, some guy named Barry Bonds. A-Rod has now hit 20 or more dingers in 15 consecutive season – a feat topped by only two men: Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. If A-Rod drives in 33 more runs in the Yanks remaining 46 games – a very distinct possibility – he will move into third place all-time for most seasons with 130 more RBI – behind only Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Speaking of career RBI records, A-Rod is on the cusp of setting the all-time record for seasons with at least 100 RBI – 3 more this year will give him 14 seasons accomplishing the feat, more than anyone. More than Ruth. More than Gehrig. More than Aaron. More than other undeniable Hall-of-Famers Stan Musial, Jimmie Foxx and Carl Yastrzemski.

Laugh about RBI being a “meaningless” stat all you want. I know there are plenty of sabermatricians who love to slight the RBI (here’s looking at you, Jason Stark), but the fact is somebody has to drive in a team’s runs. A-Rod does it better than anyone in the modern ere and an argument can be made he does it better than anyone ever. The men A-Rod is muscling in on are generally considered the icons of baseball, guys who did things that nobody ever thought would be accomplished again. Somehow, I have a feeling that if A-Rod ran off a 56 game hitting streak, the detractors would be pointing out that it wasn’t a 57 game streak.

All of this and A-Rod is still only 35 years old, with what should be 5-8 solid seasons left for him.

So if you remain unimpressed with yet another 3 home run game; with a 10 RBI game in ’05, with the 7 RBI performance last year, with all of the career accomplishments – that is certainly your right. But I’m left to wonder how you can call yourself a baseball fan. We are witness to the greatest all-around player to come along since Willie Mays. A-Rod is the kind of player who comes along once every two or three generations and if you can’t appreciate the greatness, then I feel sorry for you.

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NEW YORK- AUGUST 04: Alex Rodriguez

On a 2-0 pitch, Alex Rodriguez launched a 2-run home run (off a 85mph fastball from Shuan Marcum) in the bottom of the 1st inning to put the team up 2-0 over the Blue Jays. It was the highly anticipated home run that everyone has been waiting for. It took him 46 at-bats, but he’s finally in the 600HR club, joining Bonds, Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Griffey and Sosa. Alex is now the youngest player to ever hit 600HR’s, just 8 days past his 35th birthday. He actually hit in on the same day (August 4, 2007) that he hit HR #500.

Funny enough, the ball landed in Monument Park and a Yankee Stadium security guard picked up the ball.  I guess that belongs to the Yankees now, and it will go directly to Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees organization was prepared to give the fan a autographed baseball, jersey, hat and bat from Rodriguez. If that wasn’t enough, they were going to offer the person lunch with A-Rod and Cameron Diaz. (Via Jack Curry: Michael Kay passed this along during the YES Network broadcast).

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As Alex Rodriguez continues to chase down HR #600, many people have said that pitchers don’t want to give up a milestone home run. Is it just me, or is that a bunch of bullshit? Broadcasters in the media seem to think that players pitch around these hitters in the hunt for a milestone home run and don’t give them anything to hit, because they don’t want to go into the history books like that. The idea is that players don’t want their whole career to fade into the background, and be known for giving up a milestone home run.

First off, why would it be embarrassing to serve up a home run to one of the greatest players to ever play the game? All of those who are in search for these milestones are elite players. If you’re a superstar player, let’s say..a Roger Clemens or a Nolan Ryan..does it really have any impact on your career? Maybe a little note on their profile, but who would really care?

Al Downing was not a superstar player, but he served up Henry Aaron’s 715th home run on April 8, 1974. You can say that he was remembered as “that guy” who gave up the home run, but I don’t see it that way. Downing should be remembered for being a really good major league pitcher (123W 3.22ERA 1,639K’s), who played for the Yankees, Dodgers, Athletics and Brewers during his 17-year career. Than there’s a guy like Mike Bacsik, a journeyman pitcher who served up HR #756 to Barry Bonds. Now, wouldn’t a guy like him want that attention? I’m sure a guy of his caliber wasn’t being looked at very much. Now, he’s in the record books, linked to one of the best players to ever play the game. I’m sure he also gets a lot of autograph requests because of it as well.

What I’m trying to say is, if you’re a good ballplayer yourself, what kind of trouble will giving up a milestone home run do to your career? On the other hand, you can be a journeyman pitcher or a guy that doesn’t get much attention, and you start to get noticed because of it.

In the minds of Yankees fans, A-Rod’s 600th HR might be a big deal, but the rest of baseball doesn’t seem to care. Right now, it’s just another milestone for Alex to check off. Wait until he approaches Ruth, Aaron and Bonds..that’s when it will get interesting.CLEVELAND- JULY 27: <strong><a href=

CLEVELAND- JULY 27: Alex Rodriguez

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Think of all the Yankees history and name off the top 5 players that come to mind. Surely the first name out of anyone’s mouth is Babe Ruth, though after that, the list is slightly up for debate. In no order I have Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio and Berra. However, I and most Yankees fans soon will likely have Derek Jeter in that list. It may sound a little like heresy, but it is true. For the sake of argument, I am assuming that Derek will play 4 more  years before retiring, if not more.

At this moment, Derek is in the top 5, or in striking distance, of most of the major offensive categories as a Yankee. If Derek plays another 4 seasons (which seems to be what most Yankees bloggers are guessing) and performing along with his career averages, Derek, barring any injuries, will likely lead the Yankees in the following categories: Games Played, At Bats, Runs, Hits, Doubles, Total Plate Appearances, Stolen Bases and likely will end with close to 5,000 total bases. (more…)

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The Goose speaks out about people who cheated the game and the Hall of Fame:

From the AP: 

NEW YORK – Goose Gossage watched Mark McGwire’s televised confession to steroids use and was happy his former teammate came clean. That’s where the praise ended, with the Hall of Fame reliever saying there should be no place in Cooperstown for McGwire or any other player who used performance-enhancing drugs.

“I definitely think that they cheated,” Gossage said Tuesday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “And what does the Hall of Fame consist of? Integrity. Cheating is not part of integrity.”

For Gossage, Hank Aaron still holds the career record of 755 home runs and Roger Maris owns the season record of 61. The Goose tosses out the fantastic figures posted by Barry Bonds, McGwire, Sammy Sosa as part of a “cheating era,” dismissing them as if they were scuffed baseballs being rolled to the clubbies. He equated them with Pete Rose, barred from the Hall ballot because of his lifetime ban for betting on Cincinnati while managing the team.

“The integrity of the Hall of Fame and the numbers and the history are all in jeopardy,” said Gossage, inducted two years ago. “I don’t think they should be recognized. Here’s a guy Aaron, we’re talking about the greatest record of all records. And he did it on a level playing field. He did it with God-given talent. And the same with Maris, absolutely. These are sacred records and they’ve been shattered by cheaters.”

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