Judging by the reaction he's received from Yankees' fans so far, I think, at least for now, a majority of Yankees' fans have welcomed back Alex Rodriguez. Yes, there are plenty of detractors, but that was always going to be the case. And whether his Yankee fan detractors want to admit it or not, Alex Rodriguez has given us a lot to cheer about over the years.
Q: Alex Rodriguez was on fire last week. What's your favorite A-Rod moment?
The easy answer is the '09 ALDS Game 2 homer off Joe Nathan, but just to mix it up, I'll say that I still love the three-homer game he had against Bartolo Colon and the Angels. (Good Lord, that was 10 years ago?) On an unrelated note, also this story.
My favorite A-Rod moment was also Ryan Dempster's least favorite A-Rod moment. National TV, everyone in Fenway chanting "you're a cheater," four straight intentional HBP attempts, and he hits one into the stratosphere. In today's world of fake apologies and insincere attempts to show contrition, he temporarily embraced the role of the bad guy and owned it. ESPN panned out to Denzel Washington in the first row, but you could tell it was "Training Day" Denzel clapping. Admit it, that's the A-Rod we've always wanted.
Obviously, since A-Rod was the batter in the single greatest baseball moment I've seen live (Joe Nathan, 2009) I'm going to go with that. But I know from previous conversations that there are a bunch of others here who'll choose that moment too.
So, for the comedy of it, as well as the "good old days" nostalgia, let's go with A-Rod's first season with the Yankees when he was regularly dropping routine pop flies.
Which reminds me of another great A-Rod moment someone else is sure to mention: Luis Castillo's dropped fly ball.
I loved A-Rod slapping Bronson Arroyo's glove in the 2004 ALCS. That will forever define him in my mind.
Speaking of A-Rod on fire, I was at a game towards the end of what could be considered the greatest season of his career in 2007. He gave the Yankees a quick 2-0 lead against the Devil Rays in the bottom of the first with a monster home run. The next inning Joe Torre asked the umpires to check the bat of Akinori Iwamura because it looked funny. The bat was confiscated but Iwamura remained in the game. During A-Rod's next turn at bat, Joe Maddon promptly told the umpires to check his bat and it too was confiscated. Maddon would later admit that it was strictly retaliation for the Iwamura incident. From the upper deck it was impossible to tell what the hell was going on but it made for an interesting story in the paper the next morning. None of this fazed A-Rod as he finished up 3-4 with 4 RBIs, which was almost commonplace for him in 2007. The Yankees cruised to a 9-6 victory and it was pretty much the last time we'll ever see a lighthearted controversy surrounding A-Rod. It also happened to be Ian Kennedy's first career start, a seven-inning gem.
My favorite A-Rod moment comes from early on in the 2007 season--one of the best stretches of his career, unquestionably. It was the first Saturday of the season and the Yankees were at home playing the Orioles in a game where Kei Igawa made his big league debut. Naturally, Igawa was smacked around and the Yankees found themselves trailing in the bottom of the ninth by a run. Having already homered earlier, A-Rod stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. He promptly went deep, into the black in center field, sending the remaining fans on a cold April afternoon (myself included) into a frenzy thanks to his walk-off grand slam. It was the beginning of a season for A-Rod in which he delivered time and time again, resulting in one of the greatest individual seasons in team history.
The first thing that comes to mind is the game where Ryan Dempster threw at him, and A-Rod retaliated by hitting a home run.
A couple of weeks ago, my answer would have probably been his game tying bottom-of-the-ninth homer in the second game of the 2009 ALCS, but I think this stretch of games he's had to start the 2015 season may stand out to me as my favorite A-Rod "moment". The hatred and the circus surrounding him has building and building through most of his Yankee career, and it seemed that his return to baseball would lead to the A-Rod saga reaching a crescendo in one way or another. But it hasn't, and since he arrived in Tampa for spring training it's been all about baseball, which is all anyone could ask for. Even if his production decreases over the course of the season and the remainder of his contract (which it will), it will have been nice to be able to drop all the hyperbole and hot takes and just enjoy what's left in the highly tainted career of a highly talented athlete.
Alex had a lot of big moments to pick from over the past decade, but one that always brings a smile is the "Ha!" heard 'round the world. On May 31st, 2007, A-Rod was jogging from second to third on a 2-out pop-up by Jorge Posada. As he ran past Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark, he yelled out "Ha!" - loudly enough for Clark to think that one of his teammates was calling him off, causing him to duck out of the way and let the ball fall to the ground. This resulted, of course, in the usual "A-Rod is the devil" narrative, whereas when Derek Jeter throws his hands up while standing on third to draw a game-winning balk, or pretends to get hit by a pitch it's intangibly brilliant. Only in the bizarre alternate universe in which A-Rod eternally resides would this actually work and become a thing.
It's going to show a little bit of bias, but I've got to go with A-Rod's 600th HR. I was actually in attendance for this (as well as DJ3K), so those two milestones will always hold a place in my heart, no matter how many people say the milestone is tainted.
In game three of the 2009 World Series, the Yankees trailed 3-0 in the top of the fourth. With a runner on second, Alex hit a ball deep towards the wall in right field. The ball appeared to bounce of the top of the wall and fell in for a double. The image of a confused A-Rod protesting that it should be a home run will forever be burned into my mind, because he was right. The replays clearly showed the ball bouncing off a camera located at the top of the wall. The ball clearly would've gone over the fence had the camera not been there. At the time, home run calls were reviewable, despite nearly everything else being un-reviewable. The umpires took a look at it and overturned the call. It was a home run, and the Yankees were now down just 3-2. Even though the series was tied and the Yankees were still losing that game, it was the first moment all series that made me truly think that the Yankees were going to win it.
Those are our answers and now we want to hear yours. What's your favorite A-Rod moment?