A-Rod Breaks Home Run Record *
Another Record Home Run Does Not Mean It’s All Good for A-Rod
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 8- The 661st career home run that Alex Rodriguez hit to the left-center field Thursday night at Yankee Stadium surpassing Willie Mays for sole possession of fourth place on baseball’s all-time list may mean something for the record books. It does not mean that Yankees management will budge and give A-Rod the millions that were a part of his lucrative contract.
And it certainly does not mean that the home run, unless you are sympathetic to A-Rod, is a legitimate milestone.
And despite an overall love fest from Yankee fans that has returned, there are still some who will not stand up and cheer as they did in the Bronx after the so-called historic home run. There are those who will not forgive and forget that Alex Rodriguez did it the wrong way. Then there are those who will forgive, because Rodriguez paid his dues by sitting out all of last year due to a suspension for violating baseball’s anti drug policies.
PEDs to many meant nothing when he rounded the bases with a big smile after the home run. And the next milestone, surpassing Babe Ruth, all of a sudden seems that more probable, but there is that question of accepting every home run hit now as being a part of the record book.
The question of accepting these home runs as a part of the record book will always be a subject of debate. Whether or not Alex Rodriguez has been accepted overall by baseball fans, or for that matter sports fans, who view records as importance is also something that will continue to be a subject of discussion.
The Yankees apparently are not making the home run milestones an important priority. They are happy to have A-Rod back in the lineup, and they should be because this early season comeback has seen him produce runs for a team that had serious issues doing that last season. He has quietly been doing the job and to the Yankees hierarchy, an Alex Rodriguez home run means more towards winning than achieving another milestone, or surpassing Willie Mays or Babe Ruth.
“It’s been a long time since I had a curtain call,” Rodriguez said about the fans in his post game meeting with the media. And there may be more curtain calls for A-Rod in the Bronx if he continues to hit home runs. Because this Yankees team has been hitting the long ball in the Bronx, and because fans will cheer for any type of runs that cross home plate, they will have reason to cheer.
And if it is Alex Rodriguez, and in their ballpark, they will cheer. The Yankees though are having a different approach. Post game media notes did not highlight the milestone home run, and what should have been a headline was highlighted as number three after the important facts of Yankees wins in their last 20 games and the season series record of 2-2 against the Baltimore Orioles.
Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds, they are next after Ruth. A-Rod may not be around that long enough to surpass them, but you can never tell how much longer or how many more home runs he can produce. And take into consideration, and we can assume this is true, for the first time Alex Rodriguez is hitting home runs out of the ballpark without the assistance of Ped’s.
So there is that room for forgiveness, at least from the perspective of fans who are paying big bucks to see A-Rod hit legitimate home runs in the Bronx.
"When you're productive, you re-earn their respect and they pull for you," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about the fans. "That's the bottom line as players, not just in our sport but in all sports. They want to see their players successful. It really came down to how productive he was going to be, that really determined how he was going to be received. So far he's done a really good job."
And A-Rod overall has been doing the job. It started in spring training by giving the right answers to the media. The proper approach to the answers has continued to be acceptable enough to pass a damage control class.
Consider that Alex Rodriguez praised Mays, the man he surpassed. That he mentioned how proud his late father would have been to see the milestone home run. And he mentioned how important it was to be playing baseball again after sitting out the last year. There was no mention again of rehashing the events, and A-Rod quickly got around the question of the possible battle of his employers not paying the millions that were specified in the contract of surpassing Mays, Ruth, or beyond.
No, that battle may be left for another time as the Yankees continue go about their business of winning games, and doing that with a healthy Alex Rodriguez in their lineup.
Rodriguez said about the fans reacting to the milestone home run: “I thought the reaction was incredible. It was very humbling. We have the greatest fans in the world. They treated me really good all year and it’s fueling the way I’m playing. I’ve said it all along, the league, the Yankees the fans, nobody owes me anything. I’m so grateful to be playing baseball and I’m thankful to everyone.”
The question though lingers and it should: Does home run 661, and more to come be a part of the record books? Those who consider cheating attributed to a majority of those home runs will say they don’t count. Then there are those who say it doesn’t matter, but it should. An admission of guilt after battling the denial of using PEDs is evidence that those home runs are fiction.
In the end the home runs go in the record book. The Yankees as a team won’t have an opinion either way if A-Rod adds to his career home run total. To them that means production coming from a spot in their lineup that was going to be a hit or a miss.
To the Yankees hierarchy, well that is another dilemma and the drama will continue.
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