By Barry Millman
Almost as soon as Alex Rodriguez got busy directing three baseballs out of Target Field like an artillery spotter directing mortar fire, the associated statistics began landing across my computer screen and bombarding my inbox and cell phone with alerts like shrapnel; a flurry of digital calculations befitting of such a feat by anyone, but especially by a future Hall Of Famer who makes history of one sort or another virtually every time his bat connects for a hit.
The first ball traveled over 450 feet, giving him five on the season of such distance -- third most in MLB. The second one gave him his 62nd multi-home run game, tying him with Hank Aaron for 6th all-time in the Live Ball era. The third one gave him his fifth career three-homer game and third as a Yankee, tying him him with Joe DiMaggio for second on the Yankees all-time list and Sammy Sosa and Johnny Mize on MLB's all-time list.
Alex is rewriting the history books so fast, he's making it almost impossible for serious fans and chroniclers of the game like me to keep up. As luck would have it, when he hit his trio of dingers against the Twins, I was just putting the finishing touches on a story I'd been working on after he'd hit his 20th home run only a few days earlier. It was based on the following fascinating tweet by James Smyth, a sports researcher and former minor league play-by-play guy who is a must-follow for stat heads and a genuinely nice guy with a fun blog to read, watch, listen to and explore. Check it out and you'll see what I mean.
Of course, the Twins game blew my story all to heck and back again, and now that Alex is 40 -- Happy birthday Alex! -- and his home run total is up to 23, the story has changed again as he has banged his way to even greater heights and more elite company. Thanks to data James generously shared, though, I can tell you it looks like Alex is now one of only nine players age 40 or older to hit 23 or more home runs in a season, and only Barry Bonds has done it twice.
With two months still left in the season, you can bet Alex will wreck that stat too -- and somebody else's story along with it, no doubt.
James was also on the job the night of Alex's historic Twins game with still more tasty morsels for us Yankee tweeps and Alex aficionados to savor that put his amazing power surge into historical perspective:
On Alex's 40th birthday, we're blessed as fans to be witnessing a season of historic proportions by our monster DH, and we're fortunate that hard-working fans and students of the game like James Smyth add a rich dimension to the experience that makes it more enjoyable for all of us. Thanks again James.
You can email Barry Millman at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @nyyankeefanfore.