Thu Aug 05 12:55pm EDT
I was able to witness history on Wednesday as Alex Rodriguez(notes), one of my teammates, hit his 600th career home run.
I can't imagine being in a situation where every at-bat is being played nationally. All eyes were on Alex every time he came to the plate and MLB Network was cutting in from its regular programming to show his at-bats. On top of that, there was only one specific kind of hit that would please the audience each time — a homer.
Alex went 46 at-bats between homers. That happens all the time to players around the league, including the great ones. But in this instance it was magnified. To his credit, he didn't go up to the plate swinging for the fences or swinging to get 600. He had three multi-hit games and two games with three RBIs between 599 and 600. He was letting the situation dictate the at-bat, not trying to force history. He was doing what he could to help the New York Yankees win baseball games, and a lot of times in that stretch between home runs, a two-out single to drive in a run or two was what would help. That's what Alex did.
What is incredible about Alex is that he actually is one of the few players I know that could go up to the plate with the goal of hitting a home run, and accomplish it. There is no other explanation for that than to say it is pure talent. His swing is so smooth that it just naturally carries power with it. Some of the swings he hits home runs with I think would be a ground ball for me.
When I was first traded to the Yankees, all of my friends did three things. They recited "Seinfeld" episodes, they asked about Derek Jeter(notes), and they asked about Alex. There are a lot of players in sports that are considered polarizing. Some of those reasons are good and some of those reasons are bad. Alex definitely has a way of captivating an audience.
And when he walks into a room, everyone stops to look.
When people ask about Alex, I just remain truthful. He is one of the hardest workers I've ever seen. His drive and passion to win are above any individual accomplishments he could achieve. On top of all that, he is an amazing teammate. After the trade, he called me within minutes to welcome me to the team. Other players followed, but he made that first phone call and made me feel welcome. When I came to New York for my press conference to be announced as a Yankee a week later, Alex flew in from Florida to show his support. He has helped me with everything else in New York from hitting to which route is the best to take home after a game.
I think it's easier for people to get caught up and judge people based on what they see on "SportsCenter," or read on Page 6 or even here on Big League Stew, but just remember that you don't always get the whole story that way. I've had a lot of teammates in my career when you consider my time in the minor leagues, in Detroit and here in New York. But there is no doubt that Alex Rodriguez is one of the best teammates I've ever had.
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Curtis Granderson plays for the New York Yankees and his blog will appear regularly on Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew during the 2010 season. Make sure to check out and support his Grand Kids Foundation.
Read his previous posts here.