Of the 280,000+ home runs hit in what we call major league baseball since 1871, four--and only four--can be said to occupy a region widely considered to be diabolical.
What's that, you ask? Some kind of sop to fundamentalism seeping into the groundwater here, or something? True enough that a lead pipe was applied to our noggins, which accounts for our week-long absence here (prolonged exposure to bad airline air led to a brief respiratory crisis)--but...fear not, we've not joined some latter-day figment of the Moonies or anything.
The fourth of these diabolical long balls was hit just yesterday, which might help you figure out this shameless little ruse. It was hit by Alex Rodriguez, who these days doesn't have to do anything, really, to be mentioned in the same breath as the Anti-Christ.
And there the game is given away (but never thrown: shaken, yes, but never--ever--stirred!). Alex, who must've been thinking about the matter because it took him nearly twenty games to hit it, smacked a Bud Norris fastball over the fence in the sixth inning of yesterday's game vs. the Orioles for his six hundred sixty-sixth lifetime home run.
Yes, that's right. Six-six-six. Alex joins Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds as exclusive possessors of Biblically bestial home runs.
The details of those other homers are worth a look, actually. Naturally enough, Ruth did it first, almost eighty-two years to the day that Alex would. On June 10, 1933 in what was the first game in a doubleheader the Yankees played against the Philadelphia A's, Ruth hit lifetime homers #665 and #666 in successive at-bats against Lefty Grove.
It didn't help his team's fortunes: the Bombers (as they were often called in those days) went on to lose the game, 9-5.
As for Alex's edition of the Yankees: his sixth-inning homer tied the score at 4-4, but the New York bullpen went kerblooie and the O's wound up winning, 9-4.
Hank Aaron, like Ruth, found himself playing in a doubleheader on the day he hit his diabolical, bestial, arch-fiendish, etc. homer, and he also hit two in the game--though they were homers #666 and #667. It happened on September 2, 1972, when the Atlanta Braves were playing the lowly Philadelphia Phillies. Aaron's two HRs in that game helped lift the Braves to a 10-7 win.
One last thing, not relevant to our bestial point of focus: not reported so widely in the wake of his joining the "six-six-six club" is the fact that Alex is now sitting at 2995 hits (just might be a matter of days before he reaches 3000).
It's a year of milestones that the Yankees should be grateful to have on their calendar, but that won't stop them from trying to special plead their way out of paying Alex for any that he achieves. How's that for diabolical??