The Yankees looked to be in the midst of an increasingly lost season (copyright RandBallsStu). They have had roughly $100 million in payroll on the disabled list at the same time this season, which is a tough way to win. At the top of that list was Alex Rodriguez, making $28 million this season and laboring with a hip injury. The really strange part about that is the Yankees didn't really seem to want him back this season, given his impending PED mess.

His return would be the final nail in the Yankees' season, people predicted. He's doomed to fail, they said.

Well, strangely enough, neither of those things have happened. A-Rod has been reasonably productive, putting up an .833 OPS in 54 ABs so far this season. And the Yankees are 9-2 in their past 11 games with A-Rod in the lineup, helping them inch back toward playoff contention (they are 6.5 games out in the AL East and 5.5 back in the Wild Card).

His home run after being drilled by the Red Sox Ryan Dempster could even be a rallying point for the season.

Even an opponent can see that, per USA Today.

A-Rod has maintained that not everyone's against him, and an unexpected figure rose to his defense Wednesday. Red Sox slugger David Ortiz stuck up for his pal and voiced disapproval of his teammate hitting A-Rod in a game in which Boston squandered a three-run lead and lost 9-6 to the New York Yankees.

"I didn't like it. I don't think it was the right thing to do,'' Ortiz told USA TODAY Sports. "But we don't all think alike, and the guy who did it, Dempster, is a great guy. It's not that I didn't think it was right because Alex and I are friends, because once you cross the white lines, everyone's on their own. But we've got Tampa right on our heels, and that pitch woke up a monster in the Yankees' team at that moment. You saw how the game ended up. CC (Sabathia) was throwing 91 (mph) and started throwing 96. Alex later hit one way out there. You're talking about a good team that you can't wake up. But we learn from our mistakes.''

If the Yankees rally to make the playoffs with major help from Rodriguez in 2013, count that among the most unlikely stories of the year. (Not to mention, of course, the outrage that will follow).

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