ARLINGTON, Texas - For Texas Rangers fans, the cherry on top of the team's first World Series berth was that Alex Rodriguez was the final out to get them there.
A-Rod understands that.
"It was unbelievable how things just come around," he said after taking a called third strike from Neftali Feliz for the final out of the Rangers' series-clinching 6-1 win over the Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS on Friday night at Rangers Ballpark.
"Out of all people, I'm the last guy up there," Rodriguez said. "I'm sure it made it a little sweeter for them."
A-Rod chuckled when he said it. Oddly, he also said, "I was actually pretty excited about that at-bat . . . Funny thing is, I had the utmost confidence I was going to get on base. I had no doubt I was going to get on base. And then he throws me that dragon of a curveball. I think both me and Lance Berkman, who was behind me, we both flinched."
Although he hit 156 home runs and drove in 395 runs in three seasons for the Rangers, Rodriguez is disliked in Arlington because his Rangers years didn't go well for the team and he then was traded to the Yankees. His Yankees years have gone well, especially lately, even though he was not much of a factor in the ALCS after his other-worldly 2009 postseason.
Rodriguez batted .190 against the Rangers. He was 1-for-4 in Game 6.
"I felt comfortable pretty much all series, especially after Game 4," he said. "You go out there and you hit rockets. Nobody wants to hear about that. It's about results . . . Bottom line is I didn't do enough, the team didn't do enough and we're accountable. You give those guys credit. I am happy for guys like Michael Young and Colby Lewis who I played with and were just kids."
At age 35, A-Rod is no kid anymore. Still, he has seven years left on his contract. He said he goes into this offseason with the hope he won't have to worry about his surgically repaired right hip.
"For the last two years, I think I've been a little bit under water just trying to get this hip even," he said. "I feel like this is the first winter I will have to train and condition and come in in tip-top shape and have a great year. I expect to come back next year and have a very strong performance and more importantly, hopefully lead the team to another world title."