Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Moment of Consequence

Now that was a home run of consequence. It seemed like A- Rod had spent much of his Yankee career compiling impressive statistics in meaningless moments. He has been harshly criticized for disappearing every post-season. He has been rightly branded an egomaniac, and when he spelled team there has always been a big I in the middle.

In the 9th inning last night, with 2 outs and 2 strikes, 2 runs down and 2 runners on, A- Rod struck a blow that could be felt in Boston and Tampa. The Yankees had lost 8 of the last 10 games in almost every conceivable fashion.It felt like there had been a small army of runners left on base in important situations during this depressing period of time. The great Mariano had even blown a ninth inning lead. Suddenly, the division lead had been surrendered to the Rays. Now we were looking at the schedule to see that there were 2 upcoming series with the Red Sox, who were only 6 games back for the wild card. Swisher was hurt, Gardner was hurting, Derek was suddenly old, Kearns was a hole in the lineup, Posada was no longer able to play every day, Hughes was inconsistent, Burnett was consistent in his troubling slide, Pettite was still not back from his injury and Vasquez had disappeared from view. Could this be the year of the colossal collapse?

Everything seemed to change as the ball ascended in its glorious arc and landed where it should have, in a Yankee victory. A-Rod is now the player who is mentally prepared to deal with the big moments. He had been a star in the post-season march to number 27 last season. As he rounded the bases for the second time last evening, having driven in all the runs in a 4-3 victory, as Tampa was on the way to a one run loss and Boston was imploding at home, the baseball universe suddenly appeared to align.

This year A- Rod has gone about his business in what has seemed a shockingly quiet way. He has driven in an enormous amount of runs (111 and counting, notwithstanding recently spending time on the disabled list) without demanding our attention. Maybe, after all this time, he has finally learned how to spell.

I know there are still 2 weeks left. I understand that a series with Tampa Bay awaits. The Red Sox are still the Red Sox. I am aware that this was just one game and that today it could all start to unravel again. But last evening A-Rod earned his money.


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