The Player of the Week is back after a one-week sabbatical. I was down at the Jersey Shore trying to get away from the daily heartbreak that is the New York Mets (but you can never really escape - they have TVs there, too, after all). And speaking of the Shore, The Situation's not the only one with a comical nickname and an impressive set of abs - I'm known as The Fat Pale Hairy Blob after all. While I got a nice sunburn, drank a lot of beer and managed not to get eaten by a shark, it was a typically disastrous week for the Mets, while the Yankees went an average 3-3, but there were a few notable performances, so let's get to it.
Derek Jeter: The Captain notched his 2,874th hit on Sunday, passing the Babe on the all-time hit list. It's hard to believe the Yankees don't have anybody in their history with 3,000 hits. Of course, there are extenuating circumstances with most of their prominent players. Ruth also played for the Red Sox and Braves, and was a pitcher at the beginning of his career; Lou Gehrig had to retire early; Mickey Mantle was riddled with bad knees and retired well before his 40th birthday; Joe DiMaggio called it quits when he was 36; Don Mattingly had a bad back; and Frank Tepedino was just never given the chance. Jeter will be the first, when he does it sometime next season. For the week, he batted .375, scored eight runs, belted three doubles and drove in three.
Alex Rodriguez: Only A-Rod can get injured during batting practice while saying hello to Joe Buck. I really can't think of another person on the face of the Earth who that can happen to. Did Willie Mays get whacked by a Tito Fuentes liner while waving to Joe Garagiola just after he belted his 600th homer? I don't think there's any record of that. And poor Lance Berkman - he just can't do anything right in his short time with the Yankees (well, until last night). But earlier in the week, A-Rod, of course, finally made it to 600. So he joins Barry Bonds (762) and Sammy Sosa (609) on the 600-club list of shame, while the real list remains, with Hank Aaron (755), Ruth (714), Mays (660) and Ken Griffey Jr. (630). We want to root for A-Rod, we want heroes, we want to cheer for him, but he's the one who broke the law and sidestepped the rules of baseball to hit a few (a hundred?) more home runs. Sure, some fans hate him just because he's a Yankee, just like some will hate everything about the Cowboys or the Lakers, because you either love those teams or hate them; there's no middle ground. But most fans that dislike the Yankee third baseman, did so when he played for Texas, too, so it's not always about the Yankees. For today, we'll give him his due, though, and make him the first runner up in the Player of the Week sweepstakes, as he also stole his 300th base, making him the 10th player in history with 300 steals, 1,500 runs, 2,500 hits and 200 home runs.
Johan Santana/CC Sabathia: The two aces acted as stoppers in their games against division rivals on Saturday. After a so-so outing on Monday, when he lost to the Braves, 4-1, Santana had his changeup going against the Phillies, which led to 7 1/3 shutout innings. He even took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. The Mets may be long past "must-win" games by now, but Santana did what he was supposed to do, which is pitch like an ace. He even fielded his position like a Gold Glover, when he pounced off the mound and got the lead runner at third on a sac bunt attempt in the eighth inning. As for Sabathia, he stopped the bleeding for the Yankees, when he went eight innings against Boston, only allowing two runs, and winning his 14th game. Although he pitched well in his last two outings, he lost both of them, but he's earning his money and coming through in the clutch. There's no question he's a bona fide ace.
Mark Teixeira: The Gold Glove first baseman was a home-run-hitting machine this week. He blasted four dingers, drove in 10 and hit at a .320 clip. His "off year" is starting to look pretty good, with 25 home runs and 84 RBIs. He's now only the fourth player in history to hit 25 homers in each of his first eight seasons, with the others being Eddie Mathews, Albert Pujols and Darryl Strawberry.
Jeff Francoeur: All Frenchy did this week was hit two game-winning home runs in the Mets' only two wins, but he's been demoted yet again, now that he'll be platooning with Fernando Martinez (or maybe he won't, as Jerry Manuel seems to have backtracked on that plan - but who knows what the Mets manager will do on a day-by-day basis). The OBP-challenged right fielder blasted the game-winner off Billy "Shocker" Wagner to beat his old team, and then did it again against the Phillies for the only run the Mets would need on Saturday. He batted .333 for the week and even drew two walks, which is miraculous for him.
Francisco Rodriguez: On Tuesday, K-Rod shocked the world when he pitched a routine one-two-three ninth inning for the save in the Mets' victory over the Braves. And then he came in on Saturday with two runners on in the eighth, and saved the game by getting the last five outs. One or two meltdowns by him, and the week would have been a complete disaster for the Amazin's (I guess going 2-4, with two horrible losses is only a regular disaster).
Jon Niese: The Mets' young lefty pitched seven innings on Friday, striking out seven and only allowing one run, and what did he get for his effort? A no decision, as the bullpen imploded, exploded, went up in flames, crashed, burned, melted and flamed-broiled the game to a charred, well-done crisp.
Josh Thole/Mike Hessman/Dustin Moseley/Ramiro Pena: Let's here it for the young guys, the fill-ins and the call-ups. Thole batted .400 for the week, and has now thrown out six of eight runners trying to steal second. The gangly Hessman blasted a pinch-hit three-run bomb in the ninth inning on Friday to make the game close. Dustin Moseley filled in for A.J. Burnett last night and all he did was beat the hated Red Sox. And Pena stepped in for the injured A-Rod on Saturday and drove in two runs. He confessed that the secret to his success was to avoid Joe Buck at all costs.