Somewhat surprisingly, given his age and the mixed messages about his recovery from hip surgery, Alex Rodriguez has been one of the best players for the New York Yankees since his return Aug. 5. And his presence is a key reason they're still in the middle of the playoff hunt. It's almost as if Rodriguez has found some kind of fountain of youth that miraculously reverses his age from 38 years to 28. Oh, wait, that's what got him into a pickle in the first place, isn't it? Anyway, I kid A-Rod.
But he makes it so easy for us to poke fun at him. The kooky actions on the field, like slapping the glove and yelling "hah!" at his bewildered opponents. The alleged centaur painting. The popcorn feeding at the Super Bowl.
Exhibit 8,999: His misadventure running the bases Thursday night against the Boston Red Sox. After ripping a pitch into the gap in right-center field, Rodriguez slipped coming around first — whoa, big fella — but he kept his footing and went chugging for second. Only, even bigger gremlins tripped him up around the bag as he slid head first. Tried to slide. It was a face-plant/sternum-plant for the ages. It goes in the books as a double.
After calling time out, A-Rod sat crookedly hugging the bag and looked back at the Yankees dugout, which must have been giving him guff. The look on his face said it all: "What was that?" That's kind of the vibe A-Rod always gives off, no matter what he does.
A-Rod finished 2 for 5 and the Red Sox won 9-8 after Mariano Rivera blew his sixth save. Rodriguez is batting .283/.372/.455 in 99 at-bats.