--I wish I’d written more extensively about this over the weekend, but… I didn’t. Whatever (copyright: Bill Simmons, circa 2003). That being said, I think Yankee fans take Alex Rodriguez for granted. There has been so much ink wasted on steroid use and bizarre magazine covers and Madonna hookups and divorce and “get off my mound” that we have lost sight of the once-in-a-lifetime experience that is watching A-Rod on a daily basis. The media circus has obscured the greatness of the man. I mean, we’re talking about arguably one of the 10 best hitters OF ALL TIME and for my money the best right-handed hitter the Yankees HAVE EVER HAD and yet when greatness comes up we all think about Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera and A-Rod gets sort of taken for granted. Which is a mistake.
Take Friday night’s two-out, two-strike, last-gasp three-run homer to literally snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in a game the Yankees really needed. The New York columnists’ reaction was a barely perceptible shrug. But make no mistake—it was awesome. And A-Rod’s 2009 postseason was quite simply extraordinary. There is no one else I have ever seen on the Yankees in my lifetime that could duplicate that postseason. Not even close.
So the next time you watch the Yankees and A-Rod does something incredible (and that’s a when, not if statement), take a moment and cherish getting to see one of the greatest players ever play in his prime. Yes, there’s a big asterisk entitled STEROID USE. But even with the juice, what he’s done—and more importantly, what he’s capable of—is remarkable.
--Random college football thought of the week: All talk of Washington QB Jake Locker being EITHER a leading Heisman candidate or the surefire No. 1 pick in next year’s draft needs to cease. Immediately. Locker’s statline from Nebraska’s 56-21 pasting of the Huskies on Saturday: 4-20 (4-20!), 71 yards, 1TD, 2 INTs. I don’t care how overmatched your team is—you don’t get to be considered the top quarterback prospect in the country if you complete 20 percent of your passes and make Mark Sanchez’s Week 1 line look stellar.
--In the plethora of laudatory articles about Sanchez’s play against the Patriots, there were several columnists who praised his successful two-minute drill at the end of the first half, which led to a 49-yard Nick Folk field goal that gave the Jets momentum going into halftime. But no one gave any credit to Folk. A 49-yard field goal is no gimme, especially when a miss would deflate your team going into the break. By nailing the kick, Folk ensured that Sanchez’s drive was a success and set the stage for Gang Green outscoring New England 18-0 in the second half on its way to a 28-14 win. Sanchez deserves the lion’s share of the credit, sure—just don’t forget about Folk.
--Either Michael Vick’s advisers have started earning their money, or he really has gotten smarter. The former dogfighting operator/prison inmate/PETA pariah has had a couple missteps since re-entering the NFL, most notably when his friend was involved in a shooting at a party hosted by Vick. But when it comes to his football life, the Eagles’ quarterback has—pardon the cliché—said all the right things. Take his statement Monday that injured starter Kevin Kolb is Philly’s “leader” and that he is “OK” with being the backup. This after he played a flawless game in Kolb’s place, throwing for 284 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-32 win.
Whether or not Vick is sincere is immaterial to some degree, because he doesn’t have to say that he’s the better quarterback and would give the Eagles a better chance of making the playoffs. Every Philadelphia sports radio host, blogger and itinerant fan will say it for him. That Vick is ostensibly putting the team before him will only increase the calls for him to be named starter. And he—or at least his P.R. person—has to know that.