Alex Rodriguez and his bizarre infatuation with walk-off homer helmets: A GIF-filled history

"Congrats on the homer, Mr. Helmet!" - Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

The one question reporters need to be asking A-Rod isn't anything related to Biogenesis, the fans, or even what he happened to munch on at Qdoba yesterday: "What is your deal with helmets?"

Alex Rodriguez has had a fantastic career in baseball. Alex Rodriguez has had an extremely controversial career in baseball. Alex Rodriguez might also be one of the weirdest personalities in baseball. There's always been something bizarre about the guy and his relationship with almost everyone around him. He's like the guy at the party who goes up to everyone at the party and says, "BOY, THIS IS REALLY A GREAT TIME, ISN'T IT?! CRANK THE JAMIROQUAI!" Some people are drunk enough to play along with the silliness, like Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, and other young players with whom he's had solid relationships, but others like Derek Jeter will just kind of bemusedly tilt their heads.

A-Rod's goofiness amid celebration is on full display whenever a teammate hits a walk-off home run. Throwing the helmet on the walk-off dinger is not entirely new, but it's become the norm in recent years. It's a better celebration than potentially breaking a leg on a freak injury when jumping into home plate, so I'm not complaining. Since 2009, A-Rod has developed this odd obsession with catching or simply retrieving the helmet after the hitter rounds third and tosses it. Like clockwork, a teammate will send one out and throw the helmet, and A-Rod will dash away from the dogpile to go get it like a happy-go-lucky puppy playing fetch. As the GIFs of the Yankees' walk-off homers from '09 to the present show, the man is friggin' determined. It's hilarious.

Johnny Damon, 5/17/09

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Damon's walk-off shot was the last of the remarkable "Walk-off Weekend" of May '09, when the Yankees walked off the Twins three games in a row. Melky Cabrera won the first game with a two-run single, A-Rod himself did the walk-off homer honors in the second, and Damon capped the festivities with a solo winner of his own on a Sunday afternoon. He threw the helmet in the air where A-Rod, Cano, and Melky all jumped for it.

A-Rod did not catch it at first, but he found it and later showed off his prize to Cano amid the chaos of the home plate scrum. That produced the following priceless GIF:

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Hideki Matsui, 7/20/09

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Melky: "YES, I GOT THE HELMET THIS TIME!"

A-Rod: "LOLNOPE"

Robinson Cano, 8/28/09

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Cano did the honors this time, but while A-Rod jumped for it, Melky came down with it again. A-Rod let him keep it this time.

Nick Swisher, 9/8/09

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Hey, Melky's pretty good at this! That's 3-for-4! But holy crap. Look at A-Rod's face (0:27) as he continues to reach for the helmet in Melky's hands.

Mark Teixeira, 10/9/09

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In good ol' Horseface's ALDS walk-off two innings after A-Rod's game-tying heroics against Joe Nathan, A-Rod tried for the helmet, but it ended up going away from him. He gave up on it, and from the video, I believe that Jerry Hairston ended up holding it.

Marcus Thames, 5/17/10

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The video was not clear on Thames's awesome walk-off against Matt Foley, but from the brief snippets, you can see someone jumping for the helmet right after Thames threw it. A couple seconds later, there's the same ol' culprit Ardo running around the pile with it.

Nick Swisher, 9/8/10

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It appears that Cano was over the whole helmet-hunting phase by 2010, but A-Rod was clearly not. While everyone at home plate awaits Swish, A-Rod eyes the helmet after the casual toss and goes to get it. Keep on fightin' the good fight, A-Rod.

Russell Martin, 6/10/12

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It was almost a year and a half before the Yankees' next walk-off homer, but Russ supplied in a Subway Series game against the Mets. A-Rod was back in form, running from the pile to go get that helmet.

Russell Martin, 9/21/12

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Okay, this time Russ HAD to be aware of A-Rod's silly habit, because he just chucked it hard toward first base.

...and the centaur's off to the races.

Raul Ibanez, 10/9/12

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On Voldemort's second stunning homer of the night, A-Rod surprisingly abandoned his game and instead decided to awkwardly jump off to the side in his hoodie.

A-Rod was rehabbing in Tampa when Ichiro belted his walk-off homer on 6/25/13, as he was when Melky walked off the A's on 4/22/09. I'd like to think helmet catching was part of his rehab.

Brett Gardner, 8/11/13

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A-Rod: "RIGHT HERE. BUDDY!"

Cano: "...still?"

Gardner: "Oh he's doing this again. Guess I'll oblige." /toss/

A-Rod: "YEAHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Nix: "Nix."

***

Never change, A-Rod. Never change. I hope he's still doing this at his daughters' Little League Softball games several years from now.

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