Alexa

A-Rod and Howard add luster to starry World Series

A-Rod and Howard add luster to starry World Series

Ryan Howard thought about the World Series and his eyes widened.
"Between Yankee Stadium and Philly, it's going to be, I would have to say, probably one of the rowdiest World Series _ just between the fans," he said.
It will be if Howard and Alex Rodriguez start teeing off in their high-profile slugger showdown.
For the first time in 20 years, the World Series will feature a pair of former Major League Baseball home run champions when it opens, weather permitting, on Wednesday.
No player in MLB has been scrutinized more than New York Yankees infielder Rodriguez, a playoffs star following a scandalous spring training that included hip surgery and admitting using steroids from 2001-03.
And Howard has carried the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies every bit as much as Rodriguez has propelled the Yankees to their first Series appearance since 2003 _ and the first of his career.
"Ryan, along with his power, he's also become a great hitter," Rodriguez said on Tuesday. "And that's bad news for the National League and bad news for us."
The 34-year-old Rodriguez already has succeeded Reggie Jackson as the favorite Yankees target of wannabe amateur psychologists, who try to analyze past playoff flops and his relationships with Madonna last year and Kate Hudson this season. Now he wants to follow Mr. October as a champion.
A three-time American League MVP, Rodriguez entered these playoffs hitting .136 since 2004, and hitless in 18 consecutive playoff at-bats with runners in scoring position.
What a change.
He led the Yankees with a .438 average, five homers and 12 RBIs in the victories over Minnesota and Los Angeles Angels, hitting tying home runs in the seventh, ninth and 11th innings.
"I think everyone is looking for a profound answer, and I don't have one," he said, sitting behind a table in Yankee Stadium's Great Hall as MLB adopted an NFL-style approach to Series publicity for the first time.
"I think at the end of the day, I'm content. I'm happy, both on and off the field," Rodriguez said. "I think I've cut out a lot of the fat, or unnecessary distractions."
He eliminated many of the advisers and outside experts who made him more of a business than a ballplayer. He said he also stopped obsessing on putting up big statistics and beating himself up when he didn't. His only goal was the Yankees' 27th title, their first since 2000.
"For me it was obvious in spring training I hit rock bottom," he said. "You can only hit your head against the wall so many times, you know, before you figure out there's another way to get to the other side of the wall."
The 29-year-old Howard also needed a winding, if less notorious, path to playoffs success. He had only one RBI in each of his first two playoff series while hitting .217 (5 for 23), then batted .300 with two RBIs against the Los Angeles Dodgers in last year's NL Championship Series. He then hit three homers and drove in six runs in leading the Phillies over the Tampa Bay Rays for Philadelphia's second-ever World Series title.
And this year, he's batted .355 with 14 RBIs in the playoffs against Colorado and the LA Dodgers.
"I think that our approaches this postseason, as opposed to previous postseasons, are a lot better," Howard said. "I think both of us are a lot more patient, both of us are a lot more relaxed, it looks like. You know, I'm going out there just having fun. It looks like that's what he's doing, as well."
Both teams worked out Tuesday in the mist of $1.5 billion new Yankee Stadium, where two freshly painted logos were in foul territory in honor of the ballpark's first World Series. Still standing across the street, covered in black mesh as if a ghost, is its 86-year-old predecessor, awaiting demolition after hosting a record 100 Series games.
CC Sabathia, 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in his first playoffs with the Yankees, starts for New York against former Cleveland teammate Cliff Lee, 2-0 with an 0.74 ERA for the Phillies. It's a rematch of the April 16 ballpark opener, won by the Indians 10-2.
Pedro Martinez, who turned 38 on Sunday, is slated to start for the Phillies in Game 2 on Thursday. Cole Hamels, last year's World Series MVP, will pitch in Game 3 on Saturday.
Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte will start the first three games for New York. Manager Joe Girardi would not reveal his pitching plans beyond that.


Updated : 2021-03-02 16:36 GMT+08:00