It had really only been 22 at-bats since Alex Rodriguez last homered, but a season-long suspension has a funny way of warping baseball time, and of fogging memories. “I felt like I needed Google Maps to round the bases,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been a long, long time.”
It had been 566 days since Alex Rodriguez homered before last night’s sixth-inning solo shot, a nice moment for him but ultimately meaningless in the Yankees’ 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays. But it all looked familiar—the numbers-high, crossbody swing, the way the ball carried out of all proportion to the crack of the bat, the trot. He can still do this.
Which will make for the most intriguing storyline of this Yankees season: the team’s reported refusal to pay out the contractual bonuses it promised Rodriguez for passing baseball’s home run leaders. With last night’s, Rodriguez is just five homers behind Willie Mays for fourth all-time, and with that, a guaranteed $6 million bonus. The Yankees have made noise about going to arbitration, or even to court, to avoid having to pay. You absolutely should be rooting for Rodriguez to rediscover his swing, and not only because his success would unstuff a lot of stuffed shirts. Every time A-Rod goes yard, the Yankees come closer to having to pay even more for the guy they wanted to just go away.