June 19, 2016. That's when this post was drafted, awaiting the inevitable inclusion of Alex Rodriguez. At the bottom I even included Sadaharu Oh of Japan. Rodriguez had homered the day before in Yankee Stadium off Kevin Gausman of Baltimore, number 696. It was exactly one month since his previous home run. Of course, Yankee general manager Brian Cashman had field manager Joe Girardi stop playing Rodriguez, who played July 22, then July 29. Gee, for some reason, Rodriguez became even less effective. After that, the Yankees all but announced that Rodriguez was no longer wanted. Nice. Oh, and Cashman tanked the final one third of the season. So, then why not keep Rodriguez, even if just for the entertainment value? In August Rodriguez pinch hit 2, 10, then played 11, 12 for show.
Cashman had decided to purge Rodriguez and use minor league hopefuls as his means. Three prominent minor league players were brought up in August, rather than simply wait until September when the number of players on rosters increases. One of the three has thrived, two have hit like pitchers.
So instead of seeing Rodriguez inevitably reach 700, Yankee fans have deluded themselves into accepting minor league players for almost one third of the 2016 season. That will continue into 2017, since only one minor league player could reasonably be expected to be an impact player in 2017.
Has that ever happened before? Has a player so close to reaching a major career milestone been deprived? Ever? Rodriguez was cut August 13, 2016. Rodriguez is frozen, like Ruth, Aaron, Bonds, who reached 700. Rodriguez hit 696 regular season home runs.
Babe Ruth: five days after 699:
Friday, July 13, 1934, , Navin Field
Attendance: Not Given, (New York Times estimate: 21,000) Time of Game: 0:00
Yankees 4, Tigers 2
HR: B Ruth (14, off Tommy Bridges, 3rd inn, 1 on, 2 outs to RF).
Tommy Bridges in 1934: 22-11 .667, ERA: 3.67, Innings 275, Home Runs 16
Hank Aaron: one day after 699
Saturday, July 21, 1973, , Atlanta Stadium
Attendance: 16,236, Time of Game: 2:24
Phillies 8, Braves 4 (manager Eddie Mathews)
HR: H Aaron (27, off Ken Brett, 3rd inn, 1 on, 0 outs).
Ken Brett in 1973: 13-9 .591, ERA 3.44, Innings 211, Home Runs 19
Barry Bonds: five days after 699
Friday, September 17, 2004, 7:15PM, SBC Park
Attendance: 42,526, Time of Game: 2:27
Giants 4, Padres 1
HR: B Bonds (42, off Jake Peavy, 3rd inn, 0 on, 0 outs to LF-CF).
Jake Peavy in 2004: 15-6 .714, ERA 2.27, Innings 166, Home Runs 13
Hit 868 Home Runs in 9,250 At Bats in the Japan Central League.
... the magic number 700 was finally reached on July 23, 1976 in Kawasaki versus the Taiyo Whales (ironically in the same stadium where Oh had debuted his “flamingo” stance back in 1964). Ruth was finally overhauled on October 11 of that same season (only four games from the end of the campaign) and if there was any disappointment attached to the historic event it was only the fact that Hank Aaron had already crossed the big league milestone in Atlanta two full seasons earlier (on April 8, 1974).