Ian O'Connor shoehorns steroids into last night's Yankees game

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Alex Rodriguez celebrates.jpgESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor on last night’s game-tying homer from Alex Rodriguez:

With the ball streaking like a comet across the black Bronx night,
making Yankee Stadium quake like the old place always did, Alex Rodriguez flipped his bat, shot a look-at-me-now stare into the home
dugout, and left this baffling question in his wake: Why
did he ever feel compelled to use “boli” in the first place?

Rodriguez
was never a slugger who needed to wage a war of back-room pharmacology.
Naturally big and fast, born with an innate ability to get the barrel
on the ball, A-Rod didn’t have to turn the game of big league baseball
into a battle of my underground chemist against yours.

Look, you can feel however you want about Alex Rodriguez and you’d be totally accurate to say that he broke the rules of baseball because he did. But if you’re going to take the “A-Rod is great and never needed steroids” line today, you probably need to walk your A-Rod “cheated the
game, cheated the fans and cheated himself” rebop
from two months ago back a little bit.

Why? Because saying in March that he was a “chemically-altered fraud” whose “steroid
stain will last forever” and saying in May that “see, he never really needed steroids after all” is a tad inconsistent. PEDs either helped him or they didn’t, and you don’t get to choose which one of those things you prefer to fit the story you’re writing on any particular day. If they did helped A-Rod as much as O’Connor said they did back in March, he pretty much has to accuse A-Rod of still doing them to support his
“A-Rod is teh awesome!” story.  If they didn’t, he pretty much has to admit that he was spewing baseless PED invective for the past several years.

Of course, I’m not going to hold my breath here waiting for Ian O’Connor to admit that maybe, just maybe, PEDs aren’t as bad as he usually likes to pretend they are. But I would ask that if he’s going write an otherwise fine story about an exciting ballgame he refrain from interjecting a totally beside the point and quite apparently inconsistent steroids narrative into the mix.

Mike Trout has been really good at baseball lately

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“Water wet,” “Sky blue,” “Dog bites man” and “Mike Trout good” are not exactly newsworthy sentiments, but once in a while you have to state the obvious just so you can look back later and make sure you were, in the moment, aware of the obvious.

And to be fair, “Mike Trout good” is underselling the Angels outfielder lately. He’s on the greatest tear of his great career lately, and dang it, that’s worthy of a few words on this blog.

Last night Trout went a mere 1-for-1, but that’s because the Diamondbacks were smart enough not to pitch to him too much, walking him twice. There was no one on base the first time he came up and he got a free pass. There was a guy on first but two outs the second time, so he was once again not given much to hit and took his base again. Arizona was not so lucky the third time. The bases were loaded and there was nowhere to put Trout. He smacked the first pitch he saw for a two-run single. They probably shoulda just walked him anyway, limiting the damage to one. The last time up he reached on catcher’s interference. Maybe Arizona figured that literally grabbing the bat from him with a catcher’s mitt was the best bet?

If so you can’t blame them, really. Not with the month he’s had. In June, Trout is hitting .448/.554/.776 with five homers. He currently leads the league in the following categories: home runs (23), runs (60), walks (64), on-base percentage (.469), OPS (1.158) OPS+ (219), total bases (179) and intentional walks (9). He currently has a bWAR of 6.5. WAR, in case you did not know, is a cumulative stat. When he won the 2014 MVP Award, he “only” had 7.6 for the entire year.

Sadly, one man does not a team make, so the Angels are only 9-8 in the month of June and have fallen far back of the red-hot Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners in the division race. For this reason I suspect a lot of people are going to do what they’ve long done and overlook Mike Trout’s sheer dominance or, even more ridiculously, claim he is overrated or something (believe me, I’ve seen it even this month).

Feel free to ignore those people and concentrate instead on the greatest baseball player in the game today, who has somehow managed to up his game in recent weeks.