By Barry Millman
Another game, another milestone and two more exclusive clubs. With every swing of his bat, Alex Rodriguez is chopping to bits the list of ballplayers historians will be able to compare to him.
When he launched the first pitch he saw from Detroit Tiger pitcher and former MVP winner Justin Verlander into the right field stands Friday night, he became just the 29th player in MLB history to collect 3,000 hits -- and only the second to have more than 600 home runs and 2,000 runs batted in to go along with them.
Hank Aaron and Alex. How's that for an exclusive club?
With every new benchmark of baseball immortality he attains in this amazing comeback year, Alex is proving what a tiny band of us believers already knew back in spring training and historians will no doubt assert: We are witnessing a curtain call by one of the dozen or so greatest ballplayers to ever play the game.
As Yankee fans, we've taken a lot of static about fielding an aging team in recent years, and that era is slowly passing into a new one bringing exciting young players with promising futures.
But one upside has been that we have gotten to see three bonafide Hall of Famers go out with a bang in consecutive years. First Mo, then the Captain and now Alex -- not a born and bred Yankee like the first two, but by far the greatest ballplayer to wear the pinstripes since the team's golden age.
Management wanted him gone. MLB wanted him gone. The media wanted him gone. Most fans wanted him gone. Yet here he is, the straw that stirs the drink: driving the Yankees forward, rewriting the record books, silencing critics, making converts and having the time of his life from the looks of it.
Hall of Famers don't come along all that often, much less ones with his resiliency -- and fewer still with his stats and standing on so many all-time leaderboards. By the time he's done, you can start the clock on how long it takes the drama queens who guard the gates of the Hall like nuns guarding a flock of virgins at a Catholic school dance to relent and invite him to join the club in Cooperstown. It's only a matter of time.
Enjoy him while you can, baseball fans, because the likes of Alex will not pass this way again.
You can email Barry Millman at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @nyyankeefanfore.