- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
You feel like a parent as you try to follow the scrum involing Alex Rodriguez's lawyers. The back-and-forth is like something you hear between testy young siblings late in the day, and you reach a point where it’s impossible to separate truth from rhetoric with each charge and counter-charge. All you know is that you want it to stop, because in the end, there are only two elements that are relevant:
1. What is the evidence that led to A-Rod being suspended for 211 games by the commissioner?
2. What is Rodriguez’s explanation for the evidence?
Short of that, it’s white noise.
Major League Baseball has been winning some rounds, as they did through Matt Lauer Monday, but each instance in which the Yankees or MLB responds to something Rodriguez or his lawyer says inadvertently feeds into the perception that it’s personal. Which is why MLB and the Yankees should respond to all charges with: "We will present our evidence to the arbitrator."
Until then, Rodriguez’s side has demonstrated clearly, it will keep firing. And because we can’t send Joseph Tacopina to his room, all we can do is focus on the overwhelming good stuff that’s happening in baseball right now.
And on a given day -- such as Monday -- you can find a lot of it.
Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu have been a difference-making players in their rookie seasons, and Shelby Miller is going to have an important role in a rotation headed for the playoffs. But if the question if framed "Who is the best rookie in the NL," right now, Fernandez is the guy. In his past 93 1/3 innings, he has allowed 54 hits, including just two homers -- and he’s got 30 walks and 105 strikeouts in that span. He is a pitching monster, and as Clark Spencer writes, he stole the show Monday.
2. The Rangers’ offense, which racked up 16 runs against the Astros Monday.
Texas lost Nelson Cruz to a suspension Aug. 5, and yes, the Rangers have played some of the worst pitching teams in baseball the past couple of weeks. But they’re doing a great job taking advantage of it.
From ESPN Stats & Information, the Rangers’ offense by the numbers since Aug. 5:
6.6: Texas leads the league in runs per game since Aug. 5, when they lost Cruz to a 50-game suspension ... it’s a full run better than the second-best team in that span (Arizona, 5.5).
.422: Adrian Beltre’s batting average in that same span, a team high ... he’s batting .400 in August overall, his best batting month this season.
3. David Price.
He labored for a couple of innings Monday, fighting through a conservative (and consistent) strike zone of home plate umpire Andy Fletcher and a patient Orioles lineup. Even when he didn’t have an overpowering fastball, he got outs in key spots in a game that had a playoff feel to it, and the Rays -- in second place in the AL East -- padded their lead over third-place Baltimore to 4 1/2 games. Price allowed 10 hits and two walks in five innings. From ESPN Stats & Info: Before Monday, Price was 0-7 in seven career starts when allowing 10-plus hits. The Rays won this opener of a key series, as Marc Topkin writes. From Marc’s story:
Consider that Price -- who had to change undershirts and his jersey because he sweated through them -- ended four of his innings in distressful situations: Bases loaded once, second and third twice, first and second once. "He battled his butt off, and he did what he had to do to keep us in the game," Molina said.