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A-Rod: Mark Teixeira Should Be MVP

Perry ArnoldSenior Analyst IJune 16, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 21:  Mark Teixeira #25 of the New York Yankees at bat against the Baltimore Orioles on May 21, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Mark Teixeira, first baseman for the New York Yankees, has belted 20 home runs in the 59 games he has played this season.

He has also driven in 54 runs, has an OPS of 1.008 and an OPS+ of 161.

But when the Yankees came from behind Friday night to beat the Mets 9-8, Alex Rodriguez went to the trouble to explain why his teammate, Teixeira, should be the MVP in the American League this year.

The Yankees were behind the Mets 8-7 with two outs in the ninth inning.

Teixeira came to the plate and was intentionally walked so Mets' closer Francisco Rodriguez could pitch to Alex Rodriguez, who is in a slump and was hitting only .233 at the time.

K-Rod induced A-Rod to hit a sky high pop-up to Mets second baseman Luis Castillo. It seemed certain that it was the final out of the game and that the Mets had won the first game of the subway series.

But Castillo dropped the ball, and Derek Jeter scored the tying run from second.

Then, as Castillo found the ball in the grass and flipped it toward second base, Teixeira came around to score all the way from first on a pop-up.

There are a great many Major League players, men of immeasurable talent, who would have dropped their heads and jogged toward second when they saw their cleanup hitter pop the ball up and slam his bat into the ground.

Those many players would have been safe on second when Castillo dropped the ball and the Yankees would have been tied with Robinson Cano coming to the plate.

But Teixeira is different. He plays the game the way every baseball player is taught the first time they put on a brightly colored shirt and walk onto a tee-ball diamond.

Tex plays the way little leaguers are encouraged to play by their dads coaching from the stands, the way every high school coach exhorts their players to play because they never quite had the talent to make it to the show.

Teixeira saw that A-Rod made contact, knew there were two outs, and remembered from years of instruction and years of playing the game that with two outs, you always go on contact and don't stop running until someone tells you the ball has been caught.

He had a lot of time to run, as high as that ball was hit.

As Castillo waited for clouds to part and the ball to descend, Teixeira was rounding second and on his way to third while Jeter made his way home.

When Teixeira got to third, he realized Castillo had dropped the ball and, seeing the ball flipped toward second, he romped home and slid in with another come-from-behind win for the Bombers.

As Tex put it after the game, when he realized the ball was dropped he shifted into second gear. 

"I don't have a third gear, or a fourth or fifth," he quipped.

But he did have the desire and the determination to play the game to the last out.

It was the same desire that he showed against Texas when he slid hard into second base, taking out Ranger shortstop Elvis Andrus, allowing A-Rod to beat out the double play throw and a run to score.

That was the reason A-Rod, who could have been the goat Friday night, told the writers that Teixeira's play in scoring the winning run was the reason that he should be the MVP.

If any young player could choose someone to follow, someone to emulate, someone to respect, it might be hard to find someone better than Mark Teixeira.

It remains to be seen whether he will win the 2009 AL MVP, but he has already won the respect of his teammates and his Yankee fans.

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