K-Rod? Where that come from?
It’s the 2002 postseason, and there is a secret weapon behind the Anaheim Angels’ pursuit of the first World Series title in franchise history.
His name is Francisco Rodriguez. He is a slight (barely six feet tall) Venezuelan right-hander who did not even join the Angels until late September — an injury to another pitcher let him worm through the loophole for postseason eligibility — and had worked less than six innings under the regular-season wire.
The ultimate unknown, in other words.
And in the Division Series against the Yankees, he is striking out everybody. Ditto in the Championship Series against the Twins, then the World Series against the Giants. The Angels need a total of 11 wins (Division Series were still best-of-5) to claim the crown, and Rodriguez pitches in 10 of them, with 28 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings.
His heroics become monotonous, as do references to his name.
This was during the Rodriguez Era in Texas. Alex Rodriguez and Ivan Rodriguez. A-Rod and I-Rod.
So, at some point, while covering that postseason and chronicling Francisco Rodriguez’s strikeout exploits, in the deadline rush, my fingers almost absent-mindedly tap out K-Rod on the keyboard.
And a nickname was born. Now you know.
Odd thing, Rodriguez never took to the label, and when he joined the Mets in fact asked people to stop using it.
He is scheduled to report back to the Brewers tonight. Maybe I’ll seek him out and finally apologize for the whole thing.