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Is 600 A Big Deal?

Is 600 a big deal?

That was the question posed by ESPN’s morning edition of SportsCenter the day following Alex Rodriguez’s historic home run. Performance enhancing drugs or not, 600 home runs by one individual player most certainly is a big deal.

Of the thousands of players to play the game, Alex Rodriguez is only the seventh player to accumulate that many home runs. That’s a smaller percentage of players than have recorded 3,000 hits, won triple crowns, or pitched perfect games.

It’s an incredible accomplishment that is definitely a big deal. Whether you believe the number is tainted or not, Alex Rodriguez has hit 600 major league home runs, which is more than all but six individuals ever to play the game. And he’s only 35.

There have been plenty of high-end sluggers that also used PEDs that never reached the milestone Rodriguez did on Wednesday. Mark McGuire never hit his 600th home run. Same for Rafael Palmeiro. Hitting 600 home runs requires remarkable skill and longevity.

Even though MLB has seen the 600 home runs club more than double in size over the past decade, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to attain such status. In the era of pitch counts, innings limits, and relief specialists, it is not uncommon for a hitter to face multiple pitchers in one game.

A longer and more extensive travel schedule also plays into the fact that the game is harder now than it ever was. And what about home runs that Rodriguez hit off of pitchers that were using some sort of performance enhancer? Using the logic applied to Rodriguez, those home runs should count for more.

I am not defending A-Rod’s decision to use performance enhancing drugs, nor will I ever. PEDs have no place in a game where natural ability is more than adequate. But to question the significance of a player that has entered one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs, naturally or with a little help from some friends (or cousins) is juvenile and a sign of extreme immaturity.

Alex Rodriguez has entered a rarefied air only seen by six other major league baseball players. However he got there, it’s a big deal.

Boston Trophy Party

The arrogance of Boston fans has just been a way of life for New York fans for the past seven or eight years. So when the news broke yesterday that both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

A-Rod has garnered most of the media’s ire over his positive test since Spring Training and rightfully so. He cheated, but he came clean and admitted to it. Manny Ramirez has taken some of the attention away this season since testing positive earlier this year and receiving a fifty game suspension.

Both A-Rod and Manny have said in the past that they didn’t use performance enhancing drugs, which obviously were lies. Most players denied their use over the past fifteen years, although none quite so adamantly as the once-feared slugger, David Ortiz.

I feel bad for people getting into that stuff, because it’s bad stuff. You may want to do well, but you need a little help, but you know what? The consequences are going to be tough.

Ortiz, who like many players would welcome stricter testing if it would clear the air, said again the other day he has never used steroids.

I was turned onto this video by a friend, and thought it does an excellent job at returning some of the verbiage thrown around by Boston fans in past years.

In 10 Words Or Less – 05/05/09

Happy Cinco de Mayo! In celebration of this wonderful Mexican holiday, this week’s In 10 Words Or Less will be brought to you by the language, Spanish! Feliz Navidad de Mayo!

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Arrendajos azules (18-10): Golpear dudoso contestar.
Calcetines rojos (16-10): 4-0 contra yanquis siempre agradable.
Yanquis (13-12): Primero 5 en corre a pesar de ningún Rodriguez, desplomándose Teixeira.
Rays (11-16): Evan Longoria el trato verdadero.
Las oropéndolas: Adam Jones hace valor de comercio de Bedard cada vez.

Real (15-11): Zach mutha freakin’ Greinke.
Tigres (13-12): Verlander, Willis girando aparentemente cosas alrededor.
Gemelos (13-13): Joe Mauer sano y rastrillar.
Calcetines blancos (12-13): Los cántaros han permitido sólo cuatro Homers.
Indios (10-16): Victor Martinez que produce como normal otra vez.

Navegantes (15-11): Golpear oportuno, el cabeceo Regio llave al plomo de la división.
Guardabosques (13-12): El alumbre de Mizzou Kinsler: yendo en bicicleta como Lance Armstrong.
Angels (11-13): Bobby Abreu que firma bueno hasta ahora.
Atletismo: (9-14) ¿Por lo menos Matt Holliday no es dolido, el derecho?

Marlins (15-11): Los jóvenes que echan tienen oponer azota la pesca.
Phillies (13-10): Ryan Howard grande.
Mets (11-13): La espalda de Beltran, no soplado guarda para Rodriguez más cerca.
Afronta (11-14): Jeff Francoeur no tan terrible como el año pasado.
Nacionals (7-17): Ryan Zimmerman y Adam Dunn impresionantes 3-4.

Cardinales (17-9): Comenzar cántaros tienen MLB-ALTO 14 victorias.
Cachorros (14-11): Es su época del año.
Cerveceros (14-12): Ryan Braun para pasar por encima de a bateadores menores.
Rojos (13-12): Johnny Cueto que se da cuenta de potencial.
Piratea (12-13): ¿Oye, ellos no están en último, el derecho?
Astros (11-15): El terreno no denominó Enron.

Marrulleros (19-8): Invicto en casa.
Gigantes (12-12): Lincecum que consigue caliente.
Espaldas diamantadas (11-15): No en posición terrible, golpear aún dado infortunios.
Capellanes (11-15): Comenzado 10-6, quizá hay más de ese juego.
Montañas rocosas (10-14): Imparmente, que rayó más corre que ellos han permitido.

New York Yankee 2009 Season Outlook: Infield

FIRST BASE: The last-minute negotiations to bring Mark Teixeira to the Yankees solidified the position in a way that it hasn’t been since Tino Martinez’s first tenure in the Bronx. Teixeira is a classic two-way player and a switch-hitter to booth. His swing is remarkably consistent from both sides of the plate and his plate coverage and pitch recognition is superb. Teixeira will not only help fellow slugger Alex Rodriguez in the lineup, but also in the field as well. Teixeira bring with him gold glove caliber defense, something the Yankees haven’t seen consistently since again, Tino Martinez.

SECOND BASE: Robinson Cano was rewarded with a lucrative 4-year contract before the 2008 campaign, and then turned in his poorest season of his young career. Cano triple-slashed in at .271/.305/.410 in 2008 which was good for an OPS+ of 86. He continued a trend of low walk and strikeout rates, and his low BABIP may indicate a bit of bad luck in 2008, and give reason for a bounceback year in 2009. The Yankees certainly need him to justify his contract as they passed on every second base alternative in free agency. Cano retains immense potential, but must regain the edge he appeared to lose with the departure of infield coach Larry Bowa in 2008.

SHORTSTOP: There will come a time when Derek Jeter will no longer be able to handle the rigors and demands of being a full time shortstop, but it hasn’t come yet. Jeter battled through an injured hand for a majority of the 2008 summer, significantly cutting into his offensive numbers. With a full offseason to rest and rehab the hand, Jeter should return to being a premiere AL shortstop. His power numbers will probably not return to what they were five years ago, but his patented inside-out swing and gap power will continue to make Jeter an asset with the bat. His speed, much like his power, has regressed with age, but remains a strength nonetheless. Although not the fleetest of foot, Jeter remains one of the game’s smartest and instinctive players.

THIRD BASE: Steroid admission aside, Alex Rodriguez remains one of the game’s top five players. His ability to jump on mistakes in addition to being able to handle the top-of-the-line stuff sets him apart from just about every other player. He’s a threat to go deep every time up and can handle anybody’s best fastball, but can be fooled by effective offspeed offerings. He still needs to address concerns about his ability to hit in the postseason, but the Yankees are banking on him answering those questions to the tune of nine more years and over $250 million. While A-Rod’s range is about average, his arm allows him to make plays that other third basemen may not be able to. Rodriguez remains a twister of rumors and gossip among sportswriters and tabloids, but as long as he continues to produce ungodly numbers year in and year out, the Yankees will be able to put up with him.

CATCHER: The Yankees have started stockpiling young catchers through the draft and international free agency, but most of these young prospects are younger than me and still quite a few years away from making any major impact in the majors. Therefore, the Yankees will rely heavily on the surgically repaired shoulder of Jorge Posada. A mainstay behind the plate for nearly a decade, Posada spent his first stint on the disabled list last year and was effectively a nonfactor the entire season. The Yankees struggled to find an adequate replacement and nothing worked out. Posada will not need to return his contract-year 2007 numbers, but will need to control the opponent’s running game, manage the new starting rotation and contribute something above replacement level offensively. Even an 80% Posada is leagues better than Jose Molina at full bat strength.