This article was written during the sixth inning of last night’s game
For the second straight Sunday night, the Yankees were without the services of Alex Rodriguez in the cleanup spot. Fill in Robinson Cano did fine, blasting a home run to the second deck in right field, but for whatever reason, there’s this slight emptiness that comes over me when I don’t see #13 penned into Joe Girardi’s lineup.
It’s not as if the Yankees would be completely lost offensively without him for any extended period of time, but the lineup has a completely different feeling when Alex is absent. 2011 has definitely been a season in which the Yankees have put the “Bombers” in Bronx Bombers, and Rodriguez has definitely been a big part of that. His .541 wOBA leads the team by a lot, and leads the Majors by three points (Matt Kemp’s .538 is second) so he’s obviously going to be missed when he’s out. Again, the Yankees have the firepower to survive his exit from the lineup, but seeing the 1-9 without “Rodriguez” in the cleanup spot just doesn’t feel right.
The Yankees are a team that will never struggle to score runs, but any time you’re not seeing Alex Rodriguez in the lineup, you’re missing what really makes the lineup move. Robinson Cano has more than come into his own, Mark Teixeira is no slouch, and Nick Swisher is powerful, but there’s that special buzz that comes over us when we see Rodriguez walk into the batter’s box. While those other guys–any of them, really–can change the game on one swing, we’ve always been supremely confident in Rodriguez’s ability to so. Any time the Yankees are down or tied in the ninth and the top of the order is coming up, what do we always say? “Just get it to Alex; then anything can happen.”
Maybe this is just my bias towards A-Rod. He’s always been one of my favorite players and I think I root harder for him than I do for any player on the team. Watching him every game has been an absolute blessing. Every plate appearance of his brings a smile to my face because it means I get to watch an all time great player take a damn near perfect swing. I always miss A-Rod when he’s not in the lineup.