While it looks like Alex Rodriguez's decade-long streak of being a starter at the All-Star Game is about to end - he's currently seventh in the balloting, and the Yanks are not leading a campaign to get him on the team - a case can be made that he is the Yankees' Most Valuable Player this year, for better or for worse.
He is - dare I say it? - the straw that stirs the drink for the Yanks!
Look at the numbers - this team just does not win many games when A-Rod is either injured or slumping. Remember, the Bombers were 13-15 without A-Rod this season. Their season didn't start to turn around until May 8, Alex's first game of the year. After Alex came back, the Yanks won nine in a row.
But when A-Rod started slumping after playing so many games in a row without a break - he went 39 games without a rest - the Yankees slumped as well. They lost 9 of 13 games (and would have lost 10 of 13 if it weren't for Luis Castillo dropping A-Rod's popup!) in a timeframe when Alex only got 4 hits.
Not long after getting a little time off in Miami, Alex started hitting again. In the past seven games, he has gone 10 for 23 with 4 homers and 13 RBI. He has also walked 10 times.
The Yanks, for better or for worse, are driven by A-Rod's hitting - or lack thereof. He is the biggest chef on the team. Let's hope he continues to serve up gourmet cuisine, instead of salmonella-ridden fare!
Oh, and that photo above? It's of A-Rod, Cody Ransom, and Brian Cashman serving as Chefs for a Day yesterday for kids at El Nuevo Caridad Restaurant in Washington Heights. Thanks to the Yanks for the pic.
* * *
A few other notes on last night's game:
- Eric Hinske is now a Yankee - his Pittsburgh flight finally arrived yesterday morning. My main memory of Hinske is in September 2007, when he knocked out Jorge Posada on a hard slide to home in a Yankees-Red Sox game. So that makes two current Yanks - him and Mark Teixeira - who have had home plate collisions with Posada!
- Good news that Andy Pettitte - for once - pitched a good game at home, only giving up two runs in seven innings. And he only gave up one homer - to Ken Griffey Jr.
- Did anybody get to meet Alfredo Aceves, Phil Hughes, or Joba Chamberlain when they greeted fans outside the Great Hall yesterday? If so, tell us about it!