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.

Collins worried David Wright might go on disabled list

Washington Nationals v New York Mets
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NEW YORK (AP) Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York’s captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

“With the condition he’s been playing in and the condition he’s in right now, yeah, I’m concerned about it,” Collins said Monday. “Is it going to happen? I can’t tell you. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I know this guy plays with a lot of discomfort. He always has. And when he can’t play, he’s hurt.”

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely: