Well, the Astros have gotten everything they wanted from Justin Verlander since dealing to bring him over from the incredible shrinking Tigers. Including, they dared to dream, the still-formidable righthander pitching and winning the American League West-clinching game, which he did Sunday in his first home start for his new club.
The Hollywood Reporter, of all things, has Alex Rodriguez having “the secret to a successful second act,” which they quote him as giving: “You have to own your shit.” Which he’s done, little by little, from the moment he returned from his Biogenesis-related suspension from baseball.
Publishing a remarkable story about his transformation into a very respected baseball analyst on television and a mentor to fellow former athletes off, The Reporter seems dazed enough in tone to suggest what an objective reader might take away from reading it: A-Rod, we hardly knew ye.
It’s not every season, never mind every day, when you open the bottom of the ninth in an apparent blowout, your designated hitter leads off by pulling to within eight of 600 career launches, he returns later in the inning to tie it up with a single, and the next man up hits one to the back of the yard to win it.
It’s a longtime baseball cliche that little men come up big in the clutch when you least expect it. The complementary cliche is the one about big men who aren’t as big as they look until you least expect it or you liberate them from an impossible world.
Things got this bad for the Mariners by midweek: They were hitting .239 and slugging .393 as a team. Nelson Cruz may be having a stellar season thus far but he’s the only Mariner regular with an on base percentage reaching toward .400. In fact, he looks more like Robinson Cano, their big free agency signing of over a year ago, than Robinson Cano does these days.
God knows (as does His servant Casey Stengel) that I had better things to write about on the day after Opening Days. Things like Nationals’ shortstop Ian Desmond calling second baseman Dan Uggla (yes, Virginia, that Dan Uggla) off a by-the-book popup, dropping the ball, allowing the Mets first and second, leading to Lucas Duda busting up Max Scherzer’s no-hit bid with the two run single that made the difference in the Mets’ win.
When the American League champion Royals let Billy Butler walk as a free agent following the postseason, the question became who might step into the designated hitter slot. Butler fell out of favour with manager Ned Yost when he produced too little bang for his .271 bucks. Butler got the number one job for the Royals’ staggering postseason run simply because he was there.
Adam Jones got a few Camden Yards fans a little pie-eyed—cream pied, that is. Bryce Harper plopped a personalised Washington, D.C. Fire Department helmet on his head and took selfies with teammates. Neither man had to be told otherwise that a possible Beltway World Series loomed ahead, depending upon how the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals handle themselves when the postseason launches.
Let’s have no more than absolutely necessary about the Alex Rodriguez contretemps. For now, say only that he’s managed to provoke comparisons to the end of the McCarthy era while suing his own union, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, in a filing that includes a rather nasty dig at the late executive director Michael Weiner (Weiner “falsely declar[ed] Mr. Rodriguez’s guilt and stat[ed] he should accept a suspension and resolve the Grievance at issue,” the filing charges) who urged A-Rod to make a deal rather than fight a war he couldn’t win.
There was a little is-he-is-or-is-he-ain’t talk early but that dissipated soon enough to affirm. Robinson Cano is going to Seattle. If nothing else, Washington state’s lack of an income tax makes his ten years and $240 million an even nicer payday than it would have been if the Yankees had been willing to go above and beyond their $170 million to keep the second baseman.