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Nothing Says Playoff Baseball Quite Like A-Rod Going 0-for-4 with 3 Ks

I used to be one of those people that defended A-Rod for his playoff struggles. “Too small of a sample size,” I would say, in response to people who judged him too harshly for his October failures. Or “What about what he did in 2000 with the Mariners, or ’04 with the Yankees?” was another argument. And then of course, A-Rod put some of the talks to rest when he hit like a mad man in the ’09 playoffs, belting six home runs and knocking in 18 to lead the Yankees to a World Series title. But since then, he’s gone right back to being the A-Rod we love to rip.

Alex Rodriguez was arguably the biggest goat for the Yankees in their Game 5 ALDS series-ending loss to the Tigers 3-2 Thursday. Batting cleanup for the pinstripes, A-Rod went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He left four men on. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh, he punched out against Joaquin Benoit. That was probably the biggest opportunity the Yankees had to change the game.

And then of course, with his team one swing away from tying the game, A-Rod whiffed against Jose Valverde for the final out of the game. That last out made Rodriguez the first guy in history to strike out to end the season for a playoff team two years in a row. A pretty fitting honor for such a notorious choker, wouldn’t you say?

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Charlie Manuel on the Squirrel: I’m a Pretty Good Shot

For the second day in a row at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, a squirrel got loose on the field. This time, it actually appeared to have disrupted play by scurrying in front of home plate just after Roy Oswalt had thrown a pitch. Oswalt complained to the umpire after the pitch, and seemed to suggest that either a) he was bothered by the squirrel or b) the umpire got distracted and forgot to call the pitch a strike. It wouldn’t matter because the squirrel ran into the stands and Oswalt proceeded to get Skip Schumaker to fly out.

Anyhow, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who also went out to protest the squirrel’s presence on the field, was asked about the stray rodent after the game. He busted out with some Southern humor.

“There’s not too much I can do about a squirrel running across the field. I don’t know what I can do about that. Of course, being from the South, and being a squirrel hunter, if I had a gun I might have done something. I’m a pretty good shot,” he joked.

At least, we think he was joking. If the eating habits of Takeo Spikes are any indication, he might be serious.

Rangers Fan Throws Kelly Shoppach Home Run Ball Back. Promptly. (Animated)

Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach burned the Rangers for two home runs in Game 1 of the ALDS Friday. Seeing him hit the dinger was worth it just to watch the fan in center field throw it back with ferocity:

Over and over and over again. Oh, so worth it. Easily the best home run ball thrown back in the history of home run balls thrown back. By the way, who had Kelly Shoppach as the game one hero for the Rays? Dude went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and five RBIs in his first three plate appearances.

Forearm bash to the brilliant Tim Burke at Mock Session for the GIF