Alex Rodriguez

A-Rod, Yankees say “Hank, get off our backs!”

Baseball players think they have us fooled.

They want us to think slumps and streaks are mysterious creatures. The hitting fairy comes at strange times, and can be lured to your favorite player’s bat by anything from a chicken-centric diet to a new style of facial hair.

But like an intelligent yet mediocre student who crams for a final, talented baseball players can reach that coveted “next level” they all strive for (and seem to reach a little easier during contract years) if something’s on the line.

While this space lambasted Hank Steinbrenner for comically claiming Yankees starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang’s foot injury could and should have been avoided if the National League just adopted the designated hitter rule, he must be equally congratulated for sticking his overpriced offense’s collective feet into the fire.

It worked.

The Yankees rode a nine-run seventh inning to a 18-7 victory over Texas tonight, including six runs off former Giants starter Jamey Wright in the last 1.2 innings.

The outburst by the New York bats wasn’t good enough to get Sidney Ponson the win, as Sloppy Sid gave up seven runs in five innings. But even though the word “Sidney Ponson” and “Yankees starting rotation” should never be in the same sentence, the Yankees have the type of lineup that should be able to make up for scrub starters like Ponson.

I can’t blame Steinbrenner for expecting more from his offense than injury problems and thick, darkly colored mustaches.

The best part about Steinbrenner’s complaints was the shot at Alex Rodriguez, 32, who’s all up in the tabloids with his “rumored” affair with Madonna, who’ll be 50 in August.

“I don’t know. Maybe a little less outside distractions and a little more concentrating and they’ll start hitting better,” Steinbrenner said.

That was much like the quote they were playing on KNBR today, when an unknown guy with a thick New York accent said (and I’m paraphrasing a little, cause that makes it better), “Instead of banging the Material Girl he should worry more about hitting home runs.”

Tonight A-Rod went 2-for-3 with a homer, 4 runs, 3 RBIs and 2 walks. Not distracted.

Two lessons tonight:

1. It’s a lot easier to listen to blowhard owners whine when it’s about their own team’s struggles,

2. It’s possible for hitters to be motivated via the media, especially when their newfound love of Kabbalah and stale pop tarts is questioned publicly.

 

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