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Alex Rodriguez's Historic Home Run
2008-09-03 21:54
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Untitled The Yankees jumped out to an early lead on Edwin Jackson and the Rays last night. After four innings, the score stood at 6-3 Yankees, but the next four frames went by without another tally. With two outs in the top of the ninth, Bobby Abreu worked Troy Percival for a 12-pitch walk, fouling of six full-count offerings before taking ball four. Abreu then stole second on Percival's 0-2 pitch to Alex Rodriguez, which was a ball. Rodriguez fouled off the 1-2 pitch, took ball two, then crushed a pitch down the left-field line that sailed over the foul pole.

The ball was ruled a home run, but Rays catcher Dioner Navarro animatedly disagreed, and his manager, Joe Maddon, convinced the umpires to use instant replay for the first time in major league history. Three of the four umpires, including crew chief Charlie Reliford retreated through the visitor's dugout to the replay area and emerged two minutes and 15 seconds later to uphold their call. Reliford emerged first from the dugout and twirled his left index finger over his head to affirm third-base umpire Brian Runge's original call on the field.

Watching the replays shown on YES, the ball appeared to sail over the left-field foul pole, then hook foul behind hit, clanging off a catwalk near the back wall of the stadium. Still, there remained some confusion due to the fact that there was a yellow foul pole extension attached to that catwalk, despite the fact that it was set significantly back beyond the outfield wall. The ball clearly hit the catwalk to the left (foul) of that yellow indicator, but only after sailing over the actual foul pole when leaving the field of play, which is exactly how all four umpires saw it both live and in the replays.

Said Reliford after the game, "We all believed it was a home run, but since the technology is in place we made the decision to use the technology and go look at the replays. . . . If there had been no argument, obviously we wouldn't have because all four of us believed the call was correct on the field. Because [Maddon] disputed it, and it was very close, and now the technology is in place, we used it."

Rodriguez's double-checked homer gave the Yankees an 8-3 lead, bounced Percival from the game, and pushed Rodriguez past Mike Schmidt on the career home runs list. The Rays picked up run in the bottom of the inning off Jose Veras to set the final score at 8-4 Yanks.

Carl Pavano lasted just four innings, but Edwar Ramirez, Phil Coke, and Brian Bruney combined for four scoreless innings in relief. Ramirez replaced Pavano with men on first and second and none out in the fourth. The first two batters he faced hit line drives toward second base. The first skipped off the tip of Robinson Cano's glove and sailed into right field for a bases-loading single. Cano caught the second and turned it into an unassisted double play by doubling Carlos Peña off second base. Ramirez then got Erik Hinske to pop out to end the inning and was given the win for his efforts. Coke pitched two perfect frames, but only because Johnny Damon made a perfectly timed catch at the wall on a drive by Peña to end the seventh.

Talking to the media after the game, Coke came across as humble and determined, a fresh-faced 26-year-old kid who, after being drafted 786th overall and spending six seasons in the minor leagues, five of them in rookie or A-ball, is finally living the dream and determined to make the most of the opportunity he's being given. Coke let out a few Joba-like fist-pumping screams when Damon made that catch to end the seventh, then spent the rest of the game in the dugout rather than going back to the clubhouse to shower. Asked about staying in the dougout, Coke told the YES Network's Kim Jones:

 

"I couldn't leave. I couldn't leave. I wanted to see it through to the end, regardless if I had threw or not. It didn't matter. I just wanted to be out there with everybody and assure them as much as I can to let them know that I'm not going anywhere if I can help it. I'm gonna stick around as long as I can. . . . I'm just trying to follow along with Pudge and stay with him and not doubt anything that he put down. There was one point where I shook, but it was more of a, 'I can't believe I'm standing here on this mound in this game right now.' And he went to put something else down and I was like [anxiously] 'no no no no!' I stepped back off and was like, "okay, okay, I'm good.'"

 

Discussing his repertoire (fastball, slider, changeup), Coke said that it was erroneously reported that he threw a curveball (he dropped the pitch earlier in his career). When Jones replied that it didn't look like he needed one, Coke looked genuinely surprised and pleased by the compliment, smiling and shaking his head again in disbelief, replying, "well, thank you, I appreciate that a lot."

Coke appears to have already earned his manager's confidence (which comes a lot easier than that of the last Yankee skipper), and with his mix of confidence on the mound and humility in the clubhouse, he's going to become a very popular member of this team very quickly.

Comments
2008-09-04 02:17:08
1.   RIYank
It sure looked foul when they showed the replay. I don't see how the ball could hook that much, that late. Why don't they have a camera on the foul line? Then if the image of the ball passed over the image of the pole (or screen), we'd know it was a homer, instead of having to guess whether it hooked inside or outside.

Anyway. Good anecdote about Coke. I saw him pitch against the PawSox couple weeks ago, in relief of Hughes (actually in relief of Melancon in relief of Hughes).

2008-09-04 02:56:25
2.   RZG
0 Nitpick: it was the TOP of the 9th, not bottom.
2008-09-04 04:31:39
3.   OldYanksFan
That shot by ARod was an absolute bomb!
Where has this team been the last 5 months? These last 2 games have ARod and Giambi hitting with RISP, relatively clean defense, and a team that is doing things 'right'. Is the 'pressure' off? Are they showing up now because we are out of it?

Meanwhile, we have a 1 in 50 chance of making the PS. While the Sox are 3 behind TB, I give them the edge for the AL East Division. Aside from their experience, the Sox/TB schedule's heavily favors the Sox. If WE DO go on a miracle run, it will be TB we pass, not the Sox. And meanwhile, Minn. is cooperating, although they have an easy schedule coming up (9 against KC and Detroit), with a 12/11 Home/Road split.

Boston's schedule left is 14 Home, 9 Road left.
Tampa's schedule left is 8 Home, 17 Road left.
Of those 17 road games, 9 in a row are against Boston, Yankees and Toronto.

TB has 4 left against us (including tonight)
and 6 against the Sox. It's nuts, but they have been playing over their heads all year.

I guess if the Yankees keep winning, they will instigate a flicker of hope.

2008-09-04 04:32:46
4.   ChrisS
So, I guess A-Rod was clutch last night, or does it not count because the Yankees are essentially out of it?
2008-09-04 04:49:19
5.   OldYanksFan
Steve, at WW, has an interesting story about prices in the new stadium.

"Goldberg [a season ticket holder for 30 years].... was told $2,500 per seat. He said that comes to $10,000 per game and there are 81 games. The Yankees would be sending him an invoice for $810,000 for a ticket that cost $81,000 the previous year. Although he has shared his love of the Yankees over the years with his sons and grandchildren, Goldberg says he'll be ending his relationship with the team after this season."

2008-09-04 05:15:22
6.   JL25and3
4 A-Rod clutch? You really think so? Let's take a look.

First inning: Struck out with RISP. Not clutch.

Fourth inning: RBI hit with RISP, but with a 5-1 lead. Not clutch.

Seventh inning: Leadoff walk, which I think is non-clutch by definition (no RISP, no RBI), plus he got caught stealing. Not Clutch.

Ninth inning: Two-run homer with a 3-run lead. Isn't that the classic A-Rod Not Clutch?

That leaves his third inning AB, which I suppose could be argued. He did, after all, get an RBI single with a runner in scoring position - not only that, but he scored a runner from third with less than two outs. And yet...it was the third inning, which isn't clutch. It didn't tie the score or put the Yankees ahead. And by the end of the inning the Yankees were up by 5, so how clutch could it be?

Then, of course, the final kicker: it's A-Rod, so how can it be clutch? That's just what he's expected to do, and it's about damn time, and it wasn't that clutch anyway.

Sorry, Chris. I think you just don't really understand this whole clutchitudeness thing very well.

2008-09-04 05:35:27
7.   The Hawk
4 It's not clutch because they were already up three runs. That doesn't mean it was meaningless or worthless; quite the contrary. But every HR, every RBI isn't clutch.

Also: Isn't it funny that the first use of replay had to do with A-Rod? It's just too appropriate - he really is a lightning Rod.

2008-09-04 05:57:21
8.   williamnyy23
5 At the risk of sounding insensitive, my heart strings do not tug for a man who can afford to shell out $81,000 for baseball tickets. I am sure that there is a long line waiting to take Mr. Goldberg's tickets. If his love of the Yankees is so strong, he can always use the 81K to buy a seat further from the field? After all, Mr. Goldberg didn't mind that his ability and willingness to pay $81,000 was preventing access to those who could only afford $8,100 or $810 or even $81.
2008-09-04 06:04:10
9.   Cliff Corcoran
2 fixed.

7 If you think about it, the odds were simply in Rodriguez's favor. After all, replay's for home run calls only, and who hits more home runs than Alex Rodriguez? Even in this "off year" there are only two ALers and four NLers with more dingers.

2008-09-04 06:08:59
10.   williamnyy23
6 I think you are joking :)
2008-09-04 06:32:56
11.   rbj
It's only clutch if David Ortiz or any other Red Sox does it. A ninth inning HR by Manny is no longer clutch. Just ask ESPN.
2008-09-04 06:34:06
12.   ChrisS
6 Yikes, I guess I don't. Oh well. Cashman should trade him for Pedroia and eat the remaining money on A-Rod's contract.

5 "Goldberg says he'll be ending his relationship with the team after this season."

Which is precisely what the Yankees want.

2008-09-04 06:41:26
13.   yankster
6 I'm with you all the way. It was a fantastic, amazing performance by ARod - especially the distance on the dinger, but the word "clutch" just wasn't appropriate to his performance last night.

It's unfair, of course, because non-clutch hitting could very well contribute just as much to winning as clutch hitting. A run when you're up by 2 means just as much in the end if you only win by 1.

But boy does clutch hitting set the heart a pitter pattering!

2008-09-04 06:44:25
14.   Dimelo
Of course ARod is clutch, he has a .908 OPS when it counts most. Webster dictionary had this as its definition of clutch:

clutch (adj) - ARod (.908 OPS)

2008-09-04 07:17:29
15.   DarrenF
13 You know what kind of runs I like? All kinds. (Insert pseudo Dr. Seuss rhyme: I like runs on the bus / I like runs scored by Gus.)

The Mets are riding first-inning runs to first place. First-inning runs are good. Actually, they're the best. I'll take first-inning runs any day over ninth-inning runs. (Insert statistic about winning% of teams that score first.)

Tack-on runs are great, too. My favorite kind. Turn a 3-run lead into a 5-run lead and save Mariano for tomorrow.

Take a 9-2 lead and make it 11-2. Next thing you know, it's 11-8 and those tack-on runs won the game.

By golly, if only this team had scored more runs when it wasn't clutch. They'd probably have DOZENS and DOZENS more runs and be in the playoffs.

2008-09-04 07:38:48
16.   Schteeve
I realize that alot of the clutch discourse today is tounge in cheek, but I will be a very happy person if I never hear another word about A-Rod and whether or not he is "clutch."

Also, I can't believe that Rick Sutcliffe is paid money to talk about baseball. I just can't. Anyone who regularly posts on this board would do a better job than he does.

2008-09-04 08:12:14
17.   YankeeInMichigan
I'm suprised no one has asked this yet, but I just can't resist. Is Coke the real thing?
2008-09-04 08:36:32
18.   tommyl
17 Won't be able to tell this year. We'll see what happens when the league gets some video and scouting on him. So far so good though. Wouldn't it be funny if Coke ends up as a solid starter and the more hyped guys don't? Pettitte was also not a hyped prospect or big draft pick.
2008-09-04 09:35:00
19.   OldYanksFan
"The Los Angeles Angels right-hander [Weaver] managed to cut the tips of his middle and ring fingers on his pitching hand while pushing himself up off the bench in the visitor's dugout at Detroit's Comerica Park on Tuesday night."

ALERT! ALERT! Don't let Pavano near the dugout!!!

2008-09-04 12:40:29
20.   Bama Yankee
17 I think we just about covered all the Coke puns in the Detroit game. My favorite was Chyll asking if we should like this "new" Coke.

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