NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez looked
at the award he just received from Babe Ruth's granddaughter with big
eyes and a broad grin. It was as if he almost couldn't believe it was
"Postseason MVP. Wow," Rodriguez said Saturday night. Pausing for effect he added, "What's next, the good guy award?"
Less than a year ago, it would have been difficult to decide which would be more preposterous for the troubled star to earn.
Rodriguez completed a tumultuous
season that began with an awkward confession to past steroid use and
then hip surgery that kept him out until May by being selected the
winner of the Babe Ruth Award as the New York chapter of the Baseball
Writers' Association of America's postseason MVP.
A-Rod picked up the hardware at the 87th annual New York baseball writers' dinner Saturday night.
Rodriguez used his time away from the
team to rehabilitate his hip as a period of reflection. He returned
with a mantra: simplify things.
And after he told fans at the dinner
that "he'd stick to the script of 2009 and keep it very, very brief,"
he choked up, taking a long pause – save for a nervous laugh – to look
down at the podium and smile awkwardly.
Unlike the extended pause he took
during his steroids news conference, this one was broken when an
attendee – the dinner was crowded with Yankees fans – shouted, "You're
the best, A-Rod!"
Rodriguez batted .365 with six home
runs and 18 RBIs in 15 games in the postseason, quickly putting to rest
his reputation for failing when it mattered most – he had been 8 for 59
(.136) in the postseason since 2004 before going on a tear to lead New
York to its 27th title.
Rodriguez thanked the fans for being
patient with him after helping the Yankees win their first title since
2000. It was his first trip to the World Series in a 16-year career. He
joined the Yankees in '04.
The three-time American League MVP took great pleasure in this award.
"I've been to these dinners a couple
of times to receive MVP awards and those, I'm very proud of those
accomplishments," he said. "But none of those accomplishments will ever
compare to the feeling you get from being part of a team that won a
world championship. Like Albert [Pujols] said, there's nothing like
winning a World championship."
Pujols was at the dinner to pick up
his award for NL MVP. Minnesota's Joe Mauer collected the AL MVP and
the Sid Mercer-Dick Young Player of the Year Award.
During his routine, comedian and
writer Bill Scheft told Mauer, who will be a free agent after the 2010
season, that all New York airports were closed and that he'll have to
stay until 2015.
Mauer's dad Jake Mauer, who bought
his first tuxedo for the event, said his family wasn't going to push
Joe to stay in Minnesota.
"Wherever he's happy, we're happy," Jake Mauer said.
Among those on the dais were the Angels' Mike Scioscia and the Rockies' Jim Tracy, managers of the year.
Scioscia dedicated his award to the Angels' 22-year-old rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart, who died in a car accident on April 9.
Former Yankees third baseman Aaron
Boone received one of the loudest ovations of the night when he picked
up the Arthur and Milton Richman You Gotta Have Heart Award. Boone had
heart surgery this season and was able to return to the field for the
Houston Astros in September.
Mets right fielder Jeff Francoeur
won the Ben Epstein-Dan Castellano Good Guy Award, and teammate Carlos
Beltran got the Joan Payson Award for community service. Beltran was
not in attendance because he had knee surgery last week.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was
not at the dinner to collect his Joe DiMaggio Toast of the Town Award.
He also shared the Willie, Mickey and the Duke Award with teammates
Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte as the core four of the
Yankees championship teams.
Don Zimmer, whose big league career
began in 1954 with the Brooklyn Dodgers won the William J. Slocum–Jack
Lang Award for long and meritorious service.