Baseball

There’s (Still) Something About Alex Rodriguez

The Chicago White Sox have been an average team all year long. Coming in to August 5th, the toothless Sox had lost 10 games in a row, hampered by poor bats all season. Yet, the game this night was something a little different. Fresh from the announcement that Major League Baseball had suspended Alex Rodriguez for their part in the Biogenesis scandal, there was a buzz floating through the air at US Cellular Field. This buzz was, of course, because the much maligned Rodriguez would be making his return to the Yankee lineup, batting cleanup before his suspension kicks in on the 8th.

It’s been a bizarre season for Rodriguez, from his war of words with Yankees GM Brian Cashman to his continued drug scandal saga, it seems that everything we’ve talked about in regards to A-Rod has been about everything except for his baseball. But there’s just something about Alex Rodriguez isn’t there? After the announcement was made that A-Rod would indeed start the game at third, several thousand additional tickets were sold to US Cellular Field for the game, giving the Sox one of the best crowds they’ve seen all season long.

When the Yankees travel, their fans come to opposing ballparks in numbers, so it would be ill conceived to think that the additional thousands of attendees were all Yankee fans. Sure, probably a whole lot of White Sox fans looking for any kind of excitement at their ballpark, but probably a lot of people there to see the Alex Rodriguez trainwreck express.

At the preceding press conference, Rodriguez was still defiant, expressing disappointment in Major League Baseball’s decision to suspend him and the others involved with Biogenesis. He’s called his ordeal a “nightmare” and will appeal the verdict.

“What we’ve always fought for is the process and I think we have that and I think at some point we’ll sit in front of an arbiter and we’ll give our case. That’s as much as I feel comfortable saying right now.” – Alex Rodriguez

So what now Alex?

This series in Chicago could very well be the last time we ever see Alex Rodriguez play professional baseball in the Majors. His suspension, from August 8, running through the entirety of the 2014 season, will see Rodriguez around 40 years old when it’s all said and done, and with his declining skills, there’s probably little left in the exhausted tank. What a sad end to a career we all thought would be the shining beacon of hope crushing the giant melon sized asterisk that comes affixed to Barry Bonds’ career.

Rodriguez went 1-4 in the game, and the Yankees were crushed 8-1. The White Sox put an end to their terrible losing streak and not surprisingly, Rodriguez was not a major factor in the sporting aspect of today’s events. By the time the chorus of boos reigned in for his first at bat in the top of the second, Andy Pettite had already stunk up the mound and the Yankees found themselves down 3 runs.

Yet, here we are, all of us, talking about Alex Rodriguez and the end of his career. Still in the limelight and still drawing a crowd wherever he goes. It’s easy to forget that there were 12 other players suspended, but like with most of career, he was always much more to everyone that just hitting baseballs. Even as a shell of his former self, we can’t help but be transfixed by his traveling circus. There’s just something about Alex Rodriguez, still.

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Alex Rodriguez’s pre-game press conference:

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Baseball

Major League Baseball opens 2014 season in Sydney

With news that the 2014 MLB season will open at Sydney’s famed Sydney Cricket Ground next year with a heated series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks, talk has turned into the pricing structure and pre-release procedure for those interested in snagging a ticket for the big event. International season openers are nothing new for Major League Baseball, having opened last season in Japan, but a trip all the way down to Australia is a new prospect for Bud Selig’s league, and already there has been much gripe about the process in which fans can sign up for early tickets.

The Australian Baseball League is a burgeoning league here in Australia. While secondary to the AFL, rugby, cricket and even soccer, its connection to the major leagues (it is partly funded by the MLB) means that it has close ties to the very best of the sport. Tickets for the event go on sale next week and priority is given to the members of any ABL team; a good way to boost the local league’s numbers but at the same time, a ghastly cost of having to fork out around $90-$190 for a local membership (these figures are from full membership prices to the Melbourne Aces) just to be first in line to purchase tickets for the series. Prices for the series?

Exorbitant to say the least. Certainly this opportunity is a fantastic one to get up close to two famed MLB franchises, and considering the distance the clubs have to travel, it is no surprise prices are so high. However, those traveling interstate will surely be spending no less than $1000 for the trip- almost an entire fare to the US, where some tickets from either official team websites or Stubhub can be bought for a measly $6.

Is it worth it? From this writer’s perspective, it’s hard to say. Last June I spent $149 each on great seats at Yankee Stadium for a subway series game between the Mets and the Yankees. These tickets were bought off Stubhub so they were more than the regular price- but even New Yorkers weren’t going to gouge me for that much.

Nonetheless, recent events between the Dodgers and the Dbacks have been less than friendly, adding a possible edge to next year’s series (baseball players tend not to forget getting hit by a pitch). We’ll get to see the best sport in the world in our own backyard which is always a positive, and let’s hope that when March rolls around, we’ll also get to see a little of this too:

Baseball in Australia is a growing sport, but there are plenty of Australian major leaguers who more than just contribute to their respective clubs. Perhaps this is the best way to expand the sport here, and in a sense, we’re lucky that Major League Baseball is enthusiastic about sending teams all the way down. Time will tell whether or not such ventures are worth it for the fans. We should be excited that they aren’t sending the Marlins or the Astros, and let’s hope they bring some Dodger dogs down with them.

Play ball (mate).

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