Only Alex: The Glamourus Path To 600
There is that third basemen for the New York Yankees who has a strange way of doing things.
Alex Rodriguez is sitting at 599 home runs on his career.
A-Rod will only be the seventh player in history to enter the realm of 600 or more career home runs.
On top of that, he will become the youngest to hit 600 home runs, at the age of 34.
On July 27, A-Rod will celebrate his 35th birthday.
Let's look back on a few key moments in the last eight years of the baseball career of Alex Rodriguez:
Last Year With Rangers: In his last year with the Texas Rangers, A-Rod led the AL in home runs, runs scored and slugging percentage which led to his first career MVP trophy.
Following that season, Rodriguez was traded to the New York Yankees. The Boston Red Sox nearly had him, but the MLBPA vetoed the trade due to voluntary reduction to Rodriguez's salary.
The Yankees nabbed him, sending second basemen Alfonso Soriano to Texas, along with first basemen Joaquin Arias.
Upon his arrival in New York, the place he was actually born, Rodriguez had to switch positions and jersey numbers. The number three belonged to The Great Bambino, and shortstop belonged to the Yankees captain, Derek Jeter.
MVP Seasons with Yankees: Following his first MVP award with Texas in 2003, in 2005 and 2007, Rodriguez won his second and third MVP awards in his career.
400 Home Run Club: On June 8, 2005 in Milwaukee in an interleague game with the Brewers, Rodriguez had a multi-home run game. Hitting number 399 and 400 in the same game. The Milwaukee crowd gave him a nice standing ovation following his milestone home run in the eight inning.
Mr April: In the 2007 season, Rodriguez hit 14 home runs in 18 games in the month of April, which is a tie for the Major League record for that month.
500 Home Run Club: On August 4th, 2007 at Yankee Stadium against the Kansas City Royals, Rodriguez hit his 500th career home run off of left handed pitcher Kyle Davies. This made Alex the youngest player ever to reach 500 homers (32 years, 8 days).
Opt Out Controversy/New Yankees Contract: At the end of the 2007 season, A-Rod opted out of his contract with the New York Yankees. The problem is, it was announced just before the Boston Red Sox won the World Series on live TV. He was criticized for the timing of the announcement, which was during the eighth inning of game four of the World Series.
Realizing that the situation wasn't handled well, Rodriguez bypassed his agent Scott Boras and talked with the Yankees brass personally. He said he wanted to stay and was given a new contract, a 10-year, $275 million deal. The contract also includes incentives for breaking home run milestones in a Yankees uniform.
Testing Instant Replay: 2008 was rather quiet for Rodriguez. However, on September 3, in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays, he hit his 549th home run of his career. The opposing manager objected that the ball was foul, and for the first time in MLB history, instant replay (a process officially introduced a few days earlier) was used to review the play and uphold the umpires' ruling.
Steroid Admission: The gray area on Rodriguez's career will forever be his admission to the use of performance enhancing drugs during his 2003 season with the Texas Rangers.
Prior to the 2009 season, Rodriguez was reported by Selena Roberts of Sports Illustrated for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Until this report, Rodriguez denied use of steroids. It was after this Sports Illustrated article that Rodriguez had a press conference before Spring Training and came clean.
That day, referring to his steroid use, Rodriguez said, "I was young, I was stupid, I was naïve. And I wanted to prove to everyone that I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time. I did take a banned substance. And for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful."
Hip Surgery/Return: Before the 2009 season, Rodriguez opted to undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his hip, with a recovery period of six to nine weeks, instead of the usual three to four months.
Due to this injury, Rodriguez missed the World Baseball Classic. Unlike the first WBC in 2005, Rodriguez was going to play for Dominican Republic, rather then Team USA.
In his first game back on May 8 against the Baltimore Orioles, Rodriguez smashed a three-run home run on the first pitch he saw. The Yankees struggled during Rodriguez's absence, going 13-15. A-Rod's return gave an instant impact to the team.
Ending 2009 In Fashion: In the final game of the 2009 regular season, a shortened year for Rodriguez due to his hip injury, he came up big. Rodriguez hit two home runs in the sixth inning that drove in seven runs, setting an American League record for most RBIs by a batter in a single inning, and giving him his 12th consecutive season, 13 overall, of reaching 30 home runs and 100 RBIs, breaking a tie with Manny Ramirez, Jimmie Foxx, and Babe Ruth for most 30/100 seasons in MLB history.
Playoff Monkey No More: 2009 saw Alex Rodriguez get the proverbial playoff monkey off of his back.
Being criticized in the past for not being clutch, A-Rod was clutch and even more during this post season.
Dating back to Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, Rodriguez had come to bat with 38 runners on base over a span of 61 postseason at-bats. He stranded every one of them, going 0-for-29 with runners on base.
But in the first game of the 2009 ALDS, against the Minnesota Twins, A-Rod had 2 RBI singles, both coming with two outs, and in Game 2, hit an RBI single in the 6th, and hit a game-tying homer off closer Joe Nathan in the bottom of the ninth inning. Game 3 of the ALDS, he hit a game-tying home run.
In the ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels, Rodriguez hit his third game-tying HR of the post season in Game 2 in the bottom of the 11th against Angel closer Brian Fuentes. For the series, he batted 9-21 (.429) with three home runs and six runs batted in.
Entering his first ever World Series, Rodriguez hit what appeared to be a double off a camera perched atop the outfield wall in Game 3 on Halloween night, but after protest by Yankee manager Joe Girardi, was reviewed and ruled a home run. Rodriguez's postseason success continued in Game 4 of the World Series, as he drove in the go-ahead run with two outs in the 9th inning off of Phillies closer Brad Lidge.
The Yankees went on to win their 27th World Series Championship during Game Six at Yankee Stadium, Rodriguez's first championship.
This weekend, the Yankees are going up against the Kansas City Royals, the same team he hit his 500th career home run off of. More ironic, Kyle Davies, the pitcher who surrendered Rodriguez's 500th homer, is the scheduled starting pitcher for Saturday's game.
Knowing Alex Rodriguez, he will hit 600 off of Kyle Davies as well.
If he doesn't wrap up the milestone home run before Sunday at Yankee Stadium, maybe he will take his show on the road to Cleveland and hit number 600 on his birthday (July 27) in typical A-Rod fashion.
Love him or hate him, and most hate him, Alex Rodriguez is one of the most important figures in baseball history. If it isn't his stats, it is how interesting and entertaining he can be without even meaning to.
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