How A-Rod Should Be Remembered in Pinstripes
On August 12, 2016 at Yankee Stadium on a hot and humid night, the world witnessed the end of an era. Alex Rodriguez, who is a polarizing and also controversial figure, played his final game in a New York Yankees uniform on Friday night in front of a sell out crowd of 46,459.
The night didn’t go entirely according to script, as a rain delay slowed things down a bit. But it didn’t ruin the pregame ceremony the Yankees organization planned, as Rodriguez had his mother and his two daughters on hand for his final game in his Yankees career.
The rain delay moved the first pitch to 8:00 PM Eastern Time, but the wait was worth it, as Rodriguez hit a RBI double in the first inning off of Tampa Bay Rays pitcher, Chris Archer, which scored Brett Gardner all the way from first. Rodriguez received a standing ovation each time he came up to the plate and finished the night 1-4 with a RBI and a strikeout.
To cap off the A-Rod era in Pinstripes, Yankees manager Joe Girardi put Rodriguez at third base to start the ninth inning, which created a bigger buzz than his four plate appearances. With the “We want A-Rod” chants taking over Yankee stadium, Rodriguez sprinted to third base with a smile and a bounce in the step, looking like a joyful kid that put on a baseball glove for the first time.
Rodriguez would play at third for only one batter, as Dellin Betances, who is now the closer for the Yankees, struck out the Rays center fielder Mikie Mahtook. Afterwards, Rodriguez stood at 3rd base, trying to hold back tears and hugged all of his teammates.
Betances gave Rodriguez the ball and Rodriguez went back to third base and scooped some dirt in his back pocket. Before leaving the game, Rodriguez tipped his cap one more time to the Yankee faithful, who chanted “A-Rod” until he went to the dugout for the last time as a member of the Yankees.
Now with the A-Rod era in a Yankees uniform in the books, the big question is – How will Yankees’ fans remember Rodriguez in Pinstripes? There are a lot of words that can be used to describe Rodriguez’s 12 seasons in a Yankees uniform, but despite the controversy, most notably Rodriguez’s use of PED’s and the ups and downs in the postseason, his Yankees tenure was a successful one.
In 2004, the Yankees traded for Rodriguez for one reason and one reason only and that was to win. Despite Rodriguez’s disappointments in the postseason, he delivered big time in the 2009. During the 2009 postseason, Rodriguez led the charge for the Bronx Bombers en route to the franchise’s 27th World Series title. Rodriguez went 19-for-52, hitting .365 with six home runs and 18 RBI’s.
Also, Yankees’ fans should also remember A-Rod’s battles with the Boston Red Sox, which added layers to the historic Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. In July 2004, Rodriguez got into a brawl with Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, which intensified the rivalry even more, becoming the table setter for the 2004 ALCS.
During game 6 of the ALCS, Rodriguez ran down the first base line, trying to get on base and slapped the ball out of Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo’s glove. Even though the series ended in disappointing fashion for the Yankees after having a 3-0 series lead and squandering it, those A-Rod moments in the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry should be forever remembered.
His legacy also will be known as a guy that despite his shortcomings on and off the field, loved being a Yankee and should be known as a Yankees’ postseason hero for his 2009 tear. Now with Rodriguez likely retiring at the end of the season, the media and the fans will miss the buzz he brought to a ballpark because at the end of the day, whether you’re an A-Rod fan or not, his presence in MLB and on the field will be sorely missed.
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