Before the 2013 season, Alex Rodriguez was just a guy recovering from an injury and looking to get back on the field in time to help his team win games in the second half. By the end, he had reached the lowest point of the rollercoaster that has always been his relationship with the Yankees, and had almost lost his career.
As Alex rehabbed his torn labrum during the early summer months, shocking news hit the baseball world in the form of the Biogenesis scandal. In what seemed like a sequel to the Balco scandal, and the Mitchell Report, dozens of professional athletes were implicated in an illegal performance enhancing drugs operation run by a man named Anthony Bosch.
One of the main culprits implicated by the scandal was–as if there had ever been any doubt–Alex Rodriguez. Now whether you think Bud Selig’s pursuit of Alex, and the eventual unprecedented suspension–Alex was suspended for the rest of the 2013 season and all of 2014–was a witch hunt, or a justified cleanup of the game of baseball, the fact is that Selig brought the hammer down on Alex like it had never been brought down on any player before.
It was especially crazy, considering the fact that Alex had never actually failed a PED test (this time), but whatever.
Alex immediately appealed, which brought on the most ridiculous off-field sideshow in sports history. Alex sued the Yankees, the team doctors, MLB, the player’s union… hell I think he would have sued himself for doing the PEDs if he legally could have.
Meanwhile, as his appeal was going on, Alex finished his rehab assignment and–because of rules set forth by the players’ association he was suing–had to be added to the active roster. TO THE ACTIVE ROSTER!
Alex joined the team on August 5th, and held his own without too much extra controversy. That all came to and end when the Yankees went to Boston for a weekend series from August 16-18.
As expected, the fans showered him with boos throughout the first two games–a 10-3 win for the Yankees and a 6-1 win for the Sox. The split over the first two set us up for the rubber match on Sunday night baseball on ESPN. Talk about setting the scene.
On the hill for the Red Sox was Ryan Dempster. Dempster, in his 16th year in the majors, was previously known for being a solid pitcher (hovered around .500 for his career and finished at 132-133 with a 4.35 ERA) and a guy who could do a hilarious Harry Caray impersonation.
Unfortunately for everyone, Dempster, who apparently forgot that he was teammates with a proven steroids cheater himself, stopped the funny business and took it upon himself to police major league baseball that night. During Alex’s first at bat, Dempster threw well inside three times before finally plunking the slugger in the elbow with his fourth pitch. Immediately, the umpire warned both benches, but did not eject Dempster–an act that had many people scratching their heads and thinking conspiracy theories.
We did get one person thrown out, and that was Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Girardi absolutely flipped his shit after the beaning–rightfully so–and was immediately sent to the showers. Seriously. I couldn’t tell if Joe would first kill the umpire, or have a heart attack.
Anyway, as you can watch in the video above, Alex didn’t take the beaning, nor the blatant disregard the umpiring crew showed for his safety, laying down. The Yankees got fired up too, rallying to tie the game at 2 in the inning. Take that, Dempster.
In his next at bat, Alex gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead with an RBI groundout, but he would do his loudest talking in his third at bat. With the Red Sox now up 6-3 in the top of the sixth, Dempster threw his hardest 89 mph fastball right down the middle of the plate. Alex jumped on it like he had on the new, undetectable performance enhancing drugs from Biogenesis, blasting it 442 feet over the center field fence. What a bomb.
Now, I’m not one to pretend I know what’s going through another person’s mind, but you could clearly see what Alex was thinking as he yelled when he saw the ball clear the fence for a homer: “Fuck you, Ryan Dempster. And you Umpire. And you, Red Sox. And you, Bud Selig. Joe Girardi, you’re cool cuz you defended me. But maybe you a little too, Brian Cashman, Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine!”
Furthermore, Alex proceeded to take one of the slowest home run trots of his career, culminating it with an uncharacteristically pronounced point to the sky as he crossed home plate. It was egregious. It was unnecessary. It was clearly Alex milking the moment to shove it up Dempster’s behind. But man, was it awesome. Alex had probably never wanted to homer off a pitcher more than he did against Dempster, and he went ahead and did it. Tremendous.
The home run seemed to wake the Yankees up and remind them about the earlier beaning, because they ended up taking a 7-6 lead on a bases loaded triple by a very fired up Brett Gardner later in the inning.
Alex ended up coming to bat two more times in the game, singling in the 7th and 8th innings, finishing the night 3-4 with the homer, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI. Did I mention that the Yankees won the game 8-6, and the series 2 games to 1?
Dempster, meanwhile, ended up admitting to throwing at Alex on purpose because of the steroid use and lawsuits and what not, and was suspended for five games. I assume he also threw at Big Papi in the clubhouse away from cameras or something though, right? Because he was anti-steroids? And Papi also did steroids? Right? What a dick.
By late September, Alex’s appeal was denied, and he was banned for the next year. But, for one night, he really felt like a Yankee, with every fan on his side.
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