Thursday, January 17, 2013

3,000 and 2,000? Yes. 2,298? Maybe. 763? Fugeddaboutit.

I could discuss Lance Armstrong, or Manti Te'o, or basketball, or the NFL Playoffs, or the impending return of hockey, or even Jack Wilshere and his badass pulling of Arsenal's fat out of the FA Cup fire.

Instead, I'm going to talk about Alex Rodriguez.

Yesterday, both of us needed hip surgery.  Only one of us got it.  Because only one of us can afford it.  Every industrialized nation on Earth has national health service, accepting the truth that "national security" includes providing for the health of its citizens.  Every industrialized nation on Earth, except one.  "God Bless America." Because national health service is SOCIALISM!

Hey, you don't like it when I talk politics, get lost.  You people never tell right-wingers like Curt Schilling or John Rocker, "Leave the politics out of it, only talk about sports." Only liberals like me, and Mike Lupica.

Anyway, A-Rod had his hip surgery, and they're estimating his return at about 6 months -- suggesting that he could be back by the All-Star Break.

At this point, A-Rod will be just short of his 38th birthday.  He has 2,901 career hits, 1,950 runs batted in, and 647 home runs.

At the rate he's going, assuming he comes back no worse than he was in most of 2012, he'll reach the 3,000 hit plateau (cliche alert) around mid-September.  This will make him the 5th player to have both 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.  The others are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro.  (Aaron was the first, beating Mays to it by about 2 months.)

Of course, A-Rod and Raffy both used steroids, although A-Rod came clean when faced with the proof, while Raffy flat-out lied.  Strangely, the federal government didn't go after him the way they went after Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.  I guess being a Miami Cuban has its advantages when there's a Republican in the White House, especially when that Republican's brother is the Governor of Florida and a Miami resident.

Yes, I went there, again.

If he comes back roughly the same as when he was last healthy, 2,000 RBIs will probably also happen around September 15.  The only players who have done that are Aaron, Babe Ruth, and, if you count the National Association (1871-75), Cap Anson.  Bonds fell 4 short.  Lou Gehrig fell 5 short, and would have gotten those 5, and the 7 homers he would have needed for 500, if he hadn't gotten sick.  Stan Musial is also a near-miss for 2,000, having 1,951.  Mays, Murray, Ty Cobb and Jimmie Foxx also got to 1,900, but not to 2,000.  The other players who have played for the Yankees and gotten to 1,500 are Dave Winfield at 1,833, Reggie Jackson at 1,702, Gary Sheffield at 1,676 *, Joe DiMaggio at 1,537 and Mickey Mantle at 1,509. (Derek Jeter, who has spent his entire career batting 1st or 2nd, has "only" 1,254.)

I'm not going to pretend that A-Rod's numbers are completely natural.  Nor can I, nor can anyone else, say for sure how much of his numbers are real, and how much got the unnatural boost.

At 647 home runs, A-Rod is 13 short of Mays for 4th on the all-time list.  He should reach 660 before the end of the season.  He's 67 short of Ruth for 3rd, and it's within the realm of plausibility that he could reach 714 before the end of the 2014 season.

After that, though, as they say in medial dramas, "I'm not going to lie to you, it doesn't look good." He needs 108 to catch Aaron and 115 to catch Bonds for the tainted all-time record -- and if he does get an additional 116 to reach 763, it will be every bit as tainted as Bonds' 756 through 762, and maybe every home run Bonds hit from 600 onward.

That's the part that bothers me: Bonds could well have reached 600 homers without cheating.  Ken Griffey Jr. did, and he, along with Bonds, was considered the greatest player of their (also my) generation.  Griffey got to 630, more than any clean player except Aaron, Ruth and Mays, and nobody has come forward with serious evidence that he had help.  (Unless you want to count the Kingdome's atmospheric conditions and its 316-foot right field fence as "help.")

If A-Rod hits 20 homers in the 2nd half of 2013 (at the conclusion of which he would be 38 years old), 25 in 2014 (39), 25 in 2015 (40), he'd be at 717 and past Mays and Ruth.  He'd still need 46 to surpass Aaron and Bonds.  Could he hit 23 in 2016 (41) and another 23 in 2017 (42 and at the end of his massive contract)?

Considering the way he's gotten hurt and otherwise declined since his ring season in 2009, I doubt it.

Therefore, I'm taking away the 700-homer and 763-homer projections from my countdowns.  I'm leaving the 3,000-hit projection, and adding a 2,000-RBI projection, because that is a major milestone that doesn't get the credit it deserves.  It is possible that he could reach Aaron's record of 2,297 RBIs, but he's 347 short.  If he gets 50 RBIs in 2013, that will put him 297 short, and he'd have to average 75 RBIs over '14, '15 and '16 to break it.

Alex Rodriguez, a member of the 3,000 Hit Club? Almost certainly, he will make it.

2,000 RBIs? Probably.

2,298 RBIs? Maybe.

763 Homers? Fugeddaboutit.


Days until the Devils play again: 2, this Saturday night, at 7:00, against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale.  At last.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: See the previous answer. The next game against the Philadelphia Flyers (a.k.a. The Philth) will be the home opener, at the Prudential Center in Newark, this coming Tuesday night.  The next game against the New York Rangers (a.k.a. The Scum) will be on Tuesday night, February 5, at the Prudential.  The Devils will also play the Rangers on Tuesday, March 19 (home); Sunday, April 21 (away); and Saturday, April 27 (away).  They will play the Islanders on Thursday, January 31 (home); Sunday, February 3 (away); Saturday, February 16 (away); and Monday, April 1 (home).  They will play the Flyers on : Friday, February 15 (home); Wednesday, March 15 (away); and Thursday, April 18 (away).

Days until Arsenal play another competitive match: 3, Sunday afternoon (morning out time), away to West London rivals (but not arch-rivals) Chelsea.  Yesterday, Arsenal won their 3rd Round replay with SWansea City of Wales, on an 86th minute goal by Jack Wilshere: As the old song goes, "One-Nil to The Arsenal." They will face South Coast club Brighton & Hove Albion, currently in the 2nd division but a threat for promotion, in the 4th Round.

Days until the U.S. National Soccer Team plays again: 12, a week from this coming Tuesday night, at BBVA Compass Stadium, the new home of Houston Dynamo, against Canada.  This exhibition game, or "friendly" as it's known in soccer, as a tuneup for the last, "Hexagonal" round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers, for the region that encompasses North America, Central America, and the Caribbean nations.  That round begins on February 6, away to Honduras.  If they finish 1st or 2nd in this group of 6 -- and they definitely should finish no worse than 2nd behind Mexico -- they qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

Days until the next North London Derby: 44, on Saturday, March 2, 2013, at White Hart Lane.  (This is corrected, I had it too low by 20 days.) A little over 6 weeks.  That March 2 date presumes that it won't be moved for TV purposes (which could well happen), and that Arsenal are not paired up with Spurs in the FA Cup's 5th Round, which will take place before March 2.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 45, on Sunday, March 3, away to the Portland Timbers in Oregon.  The 2013 MLS schedule has been partly released, including the club's first game and its first home game.

Days until the Red Bulls' home opener: 58, on Saturday, March 16, against D.C. United (or, as Metro fans call them, "The D.C. Scum").  Under 2 months.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby," against either the New England Revolution, the Philadelphia Union or D.C. United: See the previous answer.

Days until the Yankees play again: 74, on Monday, April 1, at 1:05 PM, at home at Yankee Stadium II, against the Boston Red Sox.  Under 11 weeks.  Beat The Scum!

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: See the previous answer.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 224, on Thursday night, August 29, away to Fresno State University in California.  The first home game of the 2013 season will be on Saturday, September 7, vs. Norfolk State.  The schedule is far from complete, with only the first 4 games set, all nonconference games.  The question marks surrounding the Big East, including Rutgers' own bolting for the Big Ten, have forced this.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Uncertain, since the 2013 schedule has not been released.  But if the usual pattern holds, it will be on the 2nd Friday in September... which, next year, just so happens to be a Friday the 13th.  Oy vey.  Anyway, if that's the way it works out, then it's 239 days.  Under 8 months.  And when it does happen, it will be the first game they play without Marcus Borden as head coach since Thanksgiving Day 1982 (a loss to Colonia High of Woodbridge), as he has left the program.  (Did he jump, or was he pushed? I don't know.)

Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 3,000th career hit: 241 (estimated around September 15).

Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 2,000th career RBI: 246 (estimated around September 20).

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 315.  A little over 10 months.

Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 381 (February 2, 2014).  A little over a year.  Of course, we have no idea who the opposing teams will be.  The possibility exists that either the Giants or the Jets could be in it -- or both.  To this day, no team has ever played a Super Bowl in its own stadium -- in spite of multiple hostings by Miami, New Orleans and various California teams.  Only 2 have done so in their home metro area: The 1979-80 Los Angeles Rams, whose home field was then the L.A. Coliseum, and they lost to Pittsburgh at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena; and the 1984-85 San Francisco 49ers, whose home field, then as now, was Candlestick Park, and they beat Miami at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, which had a much larger capacity than Candlestick.

Days until the next Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russia: 386 (February 7, 2014).

Days until the next World Cup, in Brazil: 511 (June 12, 2014).  Under 17 months.

Days until the next Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 1,296 (August 5, 2016).  Under 4 years.

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