August 04, 2010
We may now return to our regularly scheduled baseball season.
Alex Rodriguez(notes) ended all of our collective fretting — or Kevin Kernan's, at least — by hitting his 600th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. The no-doubt-about-it blast to center field at Yankee Stadium came off Shaun Marcum(notes) and ended a seemingly interminable streak of 46 at-bats since the New York Yankees third baseman hit No. 599 on July 22. (At the time of the homer, A-Rod was experiencing an 0-for-17 slump.)
Now that A-Rod has officially become the seventh player in history to hit 600, the path for everyone to opine about PED use has been cleared and we're sure to get hit with an avalanche of "who cares?" comments, columns and tweets. Those people are certainly entitled to their thoughts, though I guarantee you they'll also be paying attention — and probably voicing the same complaints — at Nos. 661, 700, 715, 756 and 763. I'm far from the world's biggest A-Rod fan and I'm not condoning his admitted PED use, but if the entire feat is so irrelevant, boring and/or unimpressive, why bother to continue following along?
• As you've seen in almost every headline, A-Rod is the youngest player to reach 600 home runs. The rest of the group includes Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr.(notes) and Sammy Sosa.
• Derek Jeter(notes) was on base when the home run was hit and, perhaps appropriately, was the first Yankee to congratulate A-Rod after he crossed home plate. The rest of the team gathered near the top steps of the dugout to pay their tributes.
• It took A-Rod exactly three years to hit 100 home runs as his 500th came on Aug. 4, 2007.
• The homer was the second that A-Rod has hit off Marcum. The first came on Sept. 30, 2006.
• A-Rod's drought of 46 ABs more than doubled the previous record that it took to go from 599 to 600. (Mays held the previous mark with 21.)
• The Associated Press reports that the ball hit out of the park was the 104th specially watermarked ball to be brought into play over the past two weeks.
• No lucky fan came up with the ball because it flew into Monument Park, where it was retrieved by a security guard. Jack Curry reported on YES Network, however, that the Yankees would have offered the fan an A-Rod autographed baseball, jersey, hat and bat in order to get it back. Had that not worked, Curry said, the fan would have been offered the chance to go to lunch with A-Rod and his girlfriend, Cameron Diaz.