Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
There was probably a lot of pressure on Alex Rodriguez in his last game in pinstripes. It was probably amped up a bit given the rain delay and pregame ceremonies which pushed the start of the game back a good deal. But if he was feeling the pressure he got past it.
A-Rod came to the bat against Chris Archer with a runner on in the first inning and served up an RBI double to deep center field:
I may be crazy, but I’m pretty sure that was a “F**k yeah!” from A-Rod as he got to second base, right at the 16 second mark. Can’t say as I blame him.
The RBI was his 2,086th of his career. He trails only Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth on the all-time list. The double, his 548th, put him past Manny Ramirez into sole possession of 30th place.
One of the greatest mysteries of the 2016 season is the day/night difference between Bryce Harper‘s first month or so, in which he raked just like he did in his 2015 MVP season, and the rest of the season where he’s been a shell of his former self.
The answer most often given is that pitchers stopped giving Harper anything good to hit and Harper showed that he couldn’t lay off the bad stuff, chasing balls or so-called “pitchers’ strikes” which were not in his wheelhouse. Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, however, just reported a far more straightforward explanation: Harper has been playing through a right shoulder injury for the last two months. Verducci hears that Harper hurt his shoulder on a head-first slide and that his swing has been affected ever since.
The Nats’ GM, Mike Rizzo, denies the report, saying that “Tom Verducci is wrong.” Whether he’s denying the nature of the injury or the fact of its existence is an open question — executives have been vague about these things in the past — but there is some corroboration from Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, who says that Harper, who has missed four straight games, is suffering from both a neck and a shoulder issue.
Harper’s OPS by month certainly tells the story of someone who isn’t right: 1.121 (March/April); .785 (May); .801 (June); .621 (July); .544 (August). The real question now is will he be ready to play, and will he be effective, in October.
The lineup for tonight’s Rays-Yankees game is out. Alex Rodriguez is batting third and DHing. He hit cleanup last night, but by batting him third tonight Joe Girardi guarantees that he will come to the plate in the first inning.
Probably important as there are going to be various on-field and video-board-related tributes and festivities. There will be a career retrospective video, video messages of some kind — what they are are not yet known — and some sort of on-field presentation.
In other news, the Yankees, despite spending a good part of last year avoiding the promotion of A-Rod milestones for legal and financial reasons — have issued an A-Rod specific fact sheet to the media:
The game will be nationally televised on Fox.