So long, Bonds

hello, A-Rod, as Bad Boy No. 1

Notebook

June 03, 2007|By Compiled from interviews and other newspapers' reports.

Barry Bonds can safely retire at the end of the season.

America has his replacement in the train-wreck athlete category, a player whose actions and words are as absurd as his talent is enormous.

Alex Rodriguez, Party of One, your table is ready at the center of baseball controversies. Sorry, Mr. Bonds, but you'll have to cream and clear out of here as soon as you finish your record-breaking dessert.

Let's quickly recap the past nine months on Planet A-Rod.

He finished October with one hit in 14 at-bats as his New York Yankees lost in the first round of the playoffs, making him Public Enemy No. 1 in the Bronx.

This spring he told reporters that he and buddy Derek Jeter had grown apart and no longer had sleepovers at each other's houses.

On the first day of the regular season, Rodriguez dropped a foul pop in the first inning and then struck out with runners on in the bottom half of the first, prompting Bronx cheers. But later he homered, starting an amazing run of 14 home runs in 93 April at-bats and five more in May to lead the league.

His production has slowed, but he's still stealing headlines from a terrible Yankees team.

In a 24-hour period this week, Rodriguez was branded as a cheat on and off the field. On Wednesday morning, the New York Post ran a story and accompanying cover photo of Rodriguez and a "blonde hottie" who wasn't his wife getting into a hotel elevator in Toronto.

That night, Rodriguez yelled while running on an easy, two-out, ninth-inning pop-up - there are conflicting reports as to whether he said "hah" or "mine" - causing Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark to think he was being called off by his shortstop.

The ball dropped safely, a run scored and the Blue Jays went nuts. This is the same Rodriguez who has been criticized previously for slapping a ball out of an opposing pitcher's glove and throwing an elbow at an infielder during a hard slide.

The drama seemingly doesn't stop with this guy - and it should get even thicker this offseason, when he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent.

New records, old guys

For the fourth time this season, the record for the oldest combined age of two starting left-handers in one game was set, most recently on Wednesday, when the Philadelphia Phillies' Jamie Moyer, 44, and the Arizona Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson, 43, faced off. Combined they were 88 years and 90 days old. They broke the record they set May 9.

It was first broken this season on April 12, when Moyer pitched against the New York Mets' Tom Glavine (a combined 85 years, 163 days). That one was eclipsed 12 days later when Johnson and David Wells did it with a combined 87 years, 200 days.

2008 uniform change

There will be a uniform change next year in the American League East after all. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays officially notified Major League Baseball of a planned change by Thursday's deadline. Specifics won't be announced until after the World Series, but it is expected the team will drop "Devil" from its name and adopt a color scheme of blue and yellow. The Rays will not be putting Baltimore on their road jerseys, however.

Praise for Zimmerman

One American League scout who recently watched Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said, despite a high error total, the 22-year-old has to be considered among the most complete players in baseball at the position. And, if he continues to improve, the scout predicts he'll soon join Robin Ventura and Scott Rolen as the most well-rounded third basemen of the past decade.

Quote of the Week

"A-Rod Playing Field All Over. Swinger and a Miss in 5 Cities."

- Headline on Thursday's New York Post story about Rodriguez allegedly being seen in various cities with a "mystery blonde" who wasn't his wife, Cynthia. The previous day the Post broke the story of A-Rod and the woman at a Toronto hotel and strip joint with the headline "Stray Rod."

Quick hits

The Florida Marlins have traded for former Orioles closers Jorge Julio and Armando Benitez in little more than two months. No word as to whether Ryan Kohlmeier or Buddy Groom is also in their sights. ... Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle has failed six straight times to pick up his 100th career win. In his most recent outing Thursday, he gave up just two hits and two runs in eight innings and still lost.

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