Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since 2004.

All right, so the Yankees reportedly don't want to write Alex Rodriguez a check for $6 million whenever he hits home run No. 660 and ties Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time list because of his PED-stained past. We get that.

What the Yankees should be doing today is writing A-Rod a nice thank you note on pinstriped stationery for not hitting No. 660 in six at-bats during Wednesday's 3-2, 13-inning loss to the Rays at Yankee Stadium.

Yes, it was a loss, but it was only one game in a surprisingly successful start to the season for Rodriguez and the Yankees.

By striking out four times, grounding out once and banging into a game-ending double play, Rodriguez spared the Yankees the embarrassing spectacle of a team ignoring a historic accomplishment by one of its own players.

The Yankees will reportedly contend they don't have to pay Rodriguez the agreed-upon marketing bonus because his past steroid use has made him unmarketable. That may be true. Lawyers and an arbitrator will eventually hash that out if the Yankees refuse to pay.

But the team refusing to call No. 660 a milestone doesn't make it any less so.

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Asked after the game if the approaching number made him "anxious," Rodriguez said: "Sure. I mean, it would have been nice to do it here at home in front of the fans."

We're not sure what the Yankees would have done in the Stadium if A-Rod had gone deep. But judging by their lack of acknowledgment of Rodriguez's tainted but still impressive chase of Mays, we find it hard to believe the team would have done more than the usual stadium sound effects for a regular old home run.

Before the bottom of the ninth and 10th innings, the centerfield scoreboard showed a montage of current Yankees hitting game-winning home runs or making great defensive plays or striking out opposing batters.

Didi Gregorius got some screen time. So did Nathan Eovaldi. Neither have exactly earned their 'stripes yet. Based on the highlight packages, Chris Young apparently deserves some space in Monument Park.

But No. 13, who is one away from No. 660, was nowhere to be found. Seems a bit petty and unnecessary. You can't make your third-place hitter an un-person.

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No. 660 is baseball history. So is the steroid era, by the way, and until we know exactly how many times Rodriguez has had to face 'roided-up pitchers in his career, how can anyone erase what he has accomplished on the field?

The Yankees don't have to like Rodriguez. He has earned any scorn he gets. But the majority of the 30,055 at the Stadium Wednesday voted with their cheers every time he came to the plate. We're certain they would have erupted if they had witnessed history.

His at-bats create buzz. The chance to see him tie Mays creates interest. The idea that he could have done so with a walk-off home run in the ninth, 11th and 13th innings created edge-of-your-seat drama. The fact that he didn't doesn't change any of that.

Now the Yankees head to Boston after a day off. The reaction there should be easy to predict, but Rodriguez usually feeds off the negativity of road crowds.

"I'm excited," Rodriguez said. "I love playing at Fenway. Fun place to play. Great fans."

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If he hits one over the Monster, our guess is it will be acknowledged in Fenway in a way it wouldn't have in the Bronx. Even A-Rod's many wrongs don't make that right.