This morning, Mark Teixeira woke up in a city that never sleeps, and found he’s king of the hill, top of the heap. But you know what’s crazy about that? He wouldn’t have been in the position to be the hero with a screaming walk-off homer without the double clutch efforts of Alex Rodriguez. Yeah, that Alex Rodriguez. He of the .159 batting average and 1 RBI in October since game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees were down 1-0 with Derek Jeter on second. Any other October would have seen A-Rod pop out after an impatient at-bat that went something like this: *swing* dammit. *swing* dammit. *swing* almost! *swing* almost! *swing* FUCK! Why am I so awful? I gotta tighten up. No loosen up. No ti– hmm. I wonder if the guys like me. They like Jetes. Why don’t they look me in the eye? Deep breath. Don’t let them know you’re sad, Alex.
Instead, he ripped a single up the 3rd baseline to score Jeter and even the game. And then when we went down 3-1 after Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera were inexplicably clowned by a handful of backups, A-Rod came to the plate for a face-off with Twins reliever Joe Nathan. With a man on base, the stage was set for another classic post-season failure. But then Joe Nathan morphed into Brad Lidge, while A-Rod was chilin out, maxin and relaxin all cool at the plate. At 3-1, A-Rod came unhinged and blasted Nathan’s 94 mph fastball into the Yankees bullpen.
If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it.
It’s as if the Yankees are in Bizarro World. White is black, up is down and Alex Rodriguez is showing up to do more than chew bubblegum and look frantic in October. Since returning from the DL in May, Rodriguez has partnered with Mark Teixeira to power the most feared hitting machine in the game. We went 51-17 after his return, and about half of his RBIs either tied games or allowed us to take the lead. All the same, I wasn’t about to lead myself on with false hopes about our post-season prospects.
For the last eight years, the Yankees have jerked us around – first with has-been mercenaries and then with the most spectacular headcase the game has ever seen. So what if we have the most complete team since the 1990s dynasty? In the post-season, the lads go as A-Rod goes. How we could possibly survive the ALDS and then topple those pesky Angels and all of their damned fundamentals to reach the World Series was beyond me.
But after Friday night, consider me officially lead on. The Yankees are in it to win it, and for the first time, so is Alex Rodriguez. Crazy, isn’t it?