Sometimes the gesture seems futile, sometimes not. The least the Yankees could have done for one of their best-liked and most productive players was to sign him for a day and let him retire as a ‘Striper. Which is exactly what they did with Hideki Matsui Saturday—on a day his old teammate and friend Derek Jeter returned from the disabled list with a Matsui-like bang, hitting the first major league pitch he’s seen all season over the right field fence.
As the latest contretemps involving Alex Rodriguez continues winding (or unwinding, as the case may well be) toward somewhere, Hal Steinbrenner, perhaps inadvertently, allowed to slip a hint that maybe, just maybe, the Yankees are learning in in-house cultural terms to deal with baseball’s, and any sport’s, least repealable law.
The Empire Emeritus and its managing general partner may pledge to cooperate with baseball government’s probe into Boschgate (“But other than that, there’s not much to say”), and they may be pondering ways to divest themselves of Rodriguez’s presence and its baggage, actual or alleged. But they may also be learning the hard way the lesson Steinbrenner’s larger-than-life father didn’t always seem have known.
Now we know: Alex Rodriguez played the postseason on a bum hip. From the winter meetings comes the word that A-Rod incurred a torn labrum in his left hip somewhere near regular season’s end, perhaps, or possibly very early in the postseason.
He faces a four-to-six-week pre-rehabilitation before undergoing surgery to repair the labrum. He isn’t expected to return to the Yankee lineup until some time in June, if that soon. And, it also turns out that Rodriguez complained about some hip discomfort on the night Raul Ibanez first pinch hit for him and swung his own way into postseason legend and lore.
It’s the kind of play Derek Jeter has been making since he came into the Show in the first place. The kind of play he has made often enough that you would not be surprised to learn he could have been blind and still made it.
Nothing more dangerous than a middling little ground ball up the pipe in the top of the twelfth, courtesy of Jhonny Peralta, and nothing more strenous for the Yankee captain than ranging to his left, reaching for it, and, if he was going to tumble, as he must have known he would, shoveling the ball to second baseman Robinson Cano for a relay to first to get rid of Peralta.
What a difference Monday makes. To Jim Johnson and to the Baltimore Orioles.
On Sunday night, Johnson got slapped around like a parakeet when he came in to try holding a two-all tie. On Monday, he and his fellow bullpen bulls stood fast enough, after rookie Wei-Yin Chen out-pitched and out-smarted out-of-retirement, wizened Andy Pettitte, before getting tired in the top of the seventh.
And the Orioles had it even with the Empire Emeritus, a 3-2 win played about as tightly as a baseball game can be played under any conditions, never mind postseason conditions that include only slightly veiled weather threats.
You wouldn’t have thought so, with the hoopla around the Boston-Los Angeles blockbuster, but there were happenings aplenty in baseball over the past couple of days . . . including the possibility of retirement for one of the game’s most respected players.
The end may be near for Lance Berkman. The St. Louis first baseman has started a rehab assignment (knee) in Memphis, but he’s talking like a man who’s thinking seriously about calling it a career.
So you thought the Cincinnati All-Star ballot box stuffing scandal was scandalous? Try explaining the San Francisco All-Star ballot box stuffing this year. Once you’ve done that, explain to me how and why a guy (Pablo Sandoval) who’s only played in 44 games with decent numbers gets the fan vote to start at third base over the arguable first-half National League most valuable player (David Wright, New York Mets) who’s carried a team with an injury and inconsistency-wracked offence into the thick of the pennant races. Unless you think a 1.013 OPS through this writing indicates a player worse than one with an .848 OPS.