What they're saying about A-Rod's 600th bomb

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Initial reactions to A-Rod’s milestone from the columnists and bloggers who make your life such a fulfilling experience.

  • Joel Sherman: “Alex Rodriguez never is going to be fully a Yankee. He never is going
    to be fully appreciated as a clean homer giant. He never is going to be
    beloved in a Hank Aaron kind of way. Too much exists in his past that never goes away. Messy departures in Seattle and Texas. A steroid admission. More cleat-in-the-mouth comments and actions than hits and homers combined. That is all part of his personal record, permanent and resistant to an eraser.”
  • Rob Neyer: “In 2010, 600 home runs just isn’t a particularly thrilling
    accomplishment. And it’s even less thrilling when it’s Rodriguez, who
    seems both joyless and unable to inspire joy.”
  • Stephen R. at The Yankee U: “I’ve covered my feelings on Alex Rodriguez and 600 before and I continue to tip my proverbial cap.  He’s one of the greatest
    players to ever play the game of baseball.  It’s been a pleasure
    watching him play for the Yankees for the past seven years, and I’m
    looking forward to the next seven years with the hopeful anticipation of
    seeing him break Barry Bonds’ record and win a few (read: many) more
    rings in the process.  Congrats, Alex.”
  • George Vecsey: “This numerical milestone, making him the seventh major league slugger to reach 600, is no guarantee Rodriguez will gain automatic acceptance into the Baseball Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible five years after retirement.”
  • Ian O’Connor: “Rodriguez’s admitted actions challenge the credibility of every swing
    he’s taken. How many of his 600 homers were the product of some
    underground potion or pill? Two hundred? Four hundred? Six hundred? When
    a ballplayer admits he was a cheat for three full seasons, and only
    admits it after he’s been outed by a media outlet (in this case, Sports
    Illustrated), everything out of his mouth sounds like the old Bob Arum
    line: Yesterday, I was lying. Today, I’m telling the truth.
  • Mike Lupica: “Somehow, after everything, history is still history in baseball. Even
    stained. Even when the record book is filled with so many stains you
    think somebody has been spitting tobacco juice at it. Juice being the operative word.”
  • Bob Klapisch: “Rodriguez only wishes home runs would come as easily to him in 2010 as
    they did in his juicing days. The leap from 599 took forever, all of 46
    at-bats, each one of them revealing why A-Rod, minus the enhancers, will
    struggle to get to Ruth’s 714 Hrs, let alone Bonds’ 762 . . . When it was over, after all the man-hugs, high-fives and curtain calls, the past was still lurking. Some stains never wash off.”
  • Steve Politi: “This was the first major milestone for Rodriguez since admitting he used
    steroids during three seasons in Texas, and the moment confirmed what
    we suspected: It is possible to be disgusted by the shortcut he used to
    reach this plateau and still find his slow ascent into history
    compelling and exciting.”

Of all of those I probably fall in line most closely with Politi’s comments. “Disgusted” is far too strong a word for my tastes, but there is certainly an understandable ambivalence to the milestone.

Neyer is right too: 600 homers these days aren’t as special as they used to be, and A-Rod is a hard figure to like. Sherman — in another, better piece, not the one linked above — is right too: 600 is a round and arbitrary number that doesn’t mean as much as we’ve all been pretending it to mean.

Any you know what? Even the Lupicas and O’Connors are right insofar as we must acknowledge that A-Rod’s accomplishments do come with a taint (even if reasonable people don’t cast the taint in as stark and moralistic terms as they do).

But Stephen R. — admittedly a Yankees fan — is right too: there is room to celebrate this milestone on a purely baseball level, and I would hope that in the rush to make the point about just how tainted and un-true-Yankee-like Rodriguez is, we don’t lose sight of that fact.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).