Kevin Kernan of the New York Post writes:
The Yankees have fallen into the A-Rod trap. And they can’t get out. There’s been so much attention given to the 600 home run chase, the Yankees have forgotten they’re in a pennant race. The first-place Rays haven’t. They are 10-1 over the last 11 games while the second-place Yankees are 5-6 over that span and the Red Sox remain within striking distance.....
In this celebrity era, the Yankees have to get back to the team game and putting their eye on the real prize, not 600 home runs, but doing whatever it takes to winning the AL East, day by day. This is serious baseball. You can’t let any distractions get in your way or you will get annihilated.
Funny how a record nobody supposedly cared about is causing so much mayhem. Actually, in the 12 (not 11) games since A-Rod hit #599, the Yankees won five of the first seven games, taking two out of three from the Kansas City Royals, and three out of four from Cleveland. It's hard to see how the home run chase had anything to do with that.
The Yankees' current doldrums really started during their trip to Tampa, where they lost two out of three, and now at home against Toronto, where they've lost two in a row. This also coincided with A-Rod going into a slump -- he hasn't had a hit since the Cleveland series..
Are A-Rod's current doldrums affecting the team? Of course -- he is the cleanup hitter, after all, and when he's not driving in runs, the team will suffer. But he's certainly not the only reason the Yankees have lost four of the last five games.
When the entire team gets only two hits off Ricky Romero, your pitching is going to have to be perfect to win. And that's a lot to expect from Dustin Moseley. When your Number 2 starter gives up eight runs, as A.J. Burnett did the night before, you can't expect victory.
Later in his piece, Kernan does bring up how "the combination of the trade deadline, adding several new Yankees, A-Rod’s crawl to 600 and A.J. Burnett’s theatrics created a kind of bad brew that has knocked the Yankees off their game." But No. 13 still gets the lion's share of the blame. Of course.
The New York Daily News' Tim Smith blames Rodriguez, too:
The Yankees were leading the division by four games since the day after this quest for 600 started. Since then they have dropped five games in the standing.Amazing that one player can cause such problems, eh? A-Rod slumps; therefore, the entire team can't hit -- or pitch. Unbelievable.
Coincidence? You be the judge.
Rodriguez's quest for No. 600 is dragging the team down. There was a time when his lack of home run production was offset by his ability to hit balls into the gaps and drive in runs. And the team was winning. Now he's not even doing that, and Yankee hitters are following him into some kind of hitless abyss. He's mired in a 0-for-17 slump and is 9-for-46 since hitting 599.
What do you think? Tell us about it!