Lupica

If you’re so sick of A-Rod, why are you writing about him, Mike Lupica?

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It’s one thing to be a sports fan who is sick of Alex Rodriguez to lament how much coverage he’s getting. I mean, yes, you can avoid that coverage if you want, but I do appreciate that that can be difficult at times and it can seem like such things are impossible to escape. For reasons I gave on Saturday I think people overstate the severity of “A-Rod fatigue,” but I do sympathize to some degree.

It’s another thing altogether if you’re Mike Lupica and you lament how much coverage A-Rod is getting. Like he does in his latest column:

[Mariano Rivera] will bounce back because he always does and always has. But what was just as striking over the past week wasn’t the single that Adam Dunn got off him in Chicago or the ball that Cabrera tried to hit out of sight late Friday night.

It was this:

His last baseball summer has been hijacked by Rodriguez.

If the Yankees don’t make the playoffs, and Rodriguez doesn’t get hurt again before game No. 162, it means that so much of the precious little time that Mo has left — and even with all the ways teams around baseball have found ways to honor him — will involve the drama and controversy and the under-the-big-top circus that that might be the end of Rodriguez’s career as well.

If you’re Mike Lupica you have the biggest column in one of America’s largest circulation newspapers, you host a prestige show on ESPN each week and you have, presumably, free reign to talk about whatever you want to talk about in sports. Yet, here you are, choosing to talk about Alex Rodriguez in a column that is ostensibly about Mariano Rivera. You don’t have to do it. You can write a thousand words on Mariano Rivera if you want to. You really can.

That aside, he’s dead wrong too. Mariano Rivera’s summer has not been hijacked by Rodriguez. Neither has the Pittsburgh Pirates’ great season, Miguel Cabrera’s drive for a second straight MVP, Clayton Kershaw’s crazy-good pitching, the Phillies’ time at the crossroads, the races in the AL East and AL West, the Braves gigantic division lead and any number of other fantastic stories about the quite enjoyable 2013 baseball season. 

It may be hard for people to find as much coverage of that stuff as they’d like because of A-Rod news, but Mike friggin’ Lupica has no excuse. He is — or at least was — an agenda-setter in the sports writing world. For him to to sit back now and cynically milk A-Rod outrage to fill column inches while simultaneously lamenting the column inches such outrage fills is both a joke and an abdication of his responsibilities.

Want people talking about Mariano Rivera? Write about Mariano Rivera. It’s not that hard.

Red Sox set a new major league record with 11 strikeouts in a row

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox works the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.

The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.

For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.

Dodgers clinch NL West on Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Charlie Culberson #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base after hitting a single RBI in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
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Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.

The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.

Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.

It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.