Not long after 1:00 today, in his first appearance at the plate in today’s game against the scrappy Toronto Blue Jays, Alex Rodriguez launched the ball straight out over the center field fence to record his 600th career home run. The ball was found resting at the foot of the temple of official Yankee fandom, Monument Park, which I find almost distressingly poetic.
Equally serendipitous is the fact that A-Rod clocked in his 600th home run three years to the day that he knocked his 500th out of the park–an occasion I happened to have been on hand to witness. Since August 4, 2007, I’ve changed computers and cameras, so I’m having no luck in unearthing my video of that outrageous moment at press time, but let me assure you that it was something I’ll never forget. It was likely the most excited I have ever been watching baseball. The moment it was clear that the ball was fair and gone, the cheers in Yankee Stadium crescendoed to deafening levels. The video I have of it is shaky from my jumping up and down, and my repeated “Oh my God”s from behind the camera drown out anything else. Somehow I kept Alex in frame as he trotted around the bases. It was one of the most indelible moments of my young adult life.
I know he’s a polarizing player–and I’ll be the first to admit that, having seen and read many an interview, he certainly has a somewhat warped mindset–but in the end, he’s there to entertain his fans, to give them a few thrills. And in the end, that’s what he does well. Win or lose, if A-Rod makes a great stop and throw to first or sends one out into the bleachers, his fans in New York and across the country are going to celebrate. I’m not saying he’s bigger than the team, but he’s assuredly a big part of it.
So, congratulations, you peculiar and handsome man. Your A-bomb certainly seemed to rejuvenate the team today. Let’s see if the momentum can carry through until we’re safely ahead in first place again.