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Friday, May 8, 2009, or "A-Rod day" as my sister enthusiastically had referred to it in the days leading up, is the day the Yankees turn it around!

After the Manny news broke, Boston fans had little choice but to redirect hostilities 3-fold towards their ill-willed anticipation of A-Rod's return. And even though the Yanks were in troubling shape, fans traded in any concern for burgeoning excitement over the return of our star 3B. And Boston fans couldn't have been more pissed off about it.

We were supposed to be upset and worried and scared! We should be wildly vulnerable to attacks on our record and the efficacy of our closer! Not giddy over the return of the stick of media TNT.

But instead we were happy, and after Red Sox fans spent a century of being pathetically hapless, it wasn't enough for them to win games. It wasn't enough for them to be happy. Their enemies had to be miserable.

But how could we be? I love this team. I haven't felt this personally invested in a team in at least a few years, since the 2005 team I think. I miss Torre a lot, and I think Girardi is somewhat of an obstacle to get over, rather than an asset to leverage. But I'm getting those old fashioned butterflies, that warm and fuzzy feeling that generally only comes in situations like Opening Day or the playoffs or when Game 7 of 2003 is on Yankees Classic.

I was so happy that the A-Void at 3B was being filled, the A-Void next to Teixiera, the A-Void in the team's offensive and defensive structure, that before I turned the game on, I wasn't sure how it could get any better. Sometimes the delirious anticipation of something is enough. Or as my mom breaks it down, "Yeah, I know what you mean. It's like when I order furniture. The best part is always waiting for it to be delivered, not the actual stuff."

So when I was ordered to leave the office at 5 (on account of a discernible inability to keep my eyes open), I happily wobbled home and threw on my A-Rod away jersey (I just like the gray jerseys so much than the pinstripes for some reason) and settled into my couch, I was happier than a fat person with ice cream.

When A-Rod stepped up, it was like the network's vision of broadcasting Utopia. I felt like I was watching the dramatic stroll to the plate that Dottie Henson took at the end of "A League of Their Own." (PS the one who really lost that game for them was the blonde who missed the cutoff man and let the run in, not Dottie, who I maintain dropped the ball on purpose.)

I got chills and little lump in my throat when I saw the stands at Camden. It was kind of weird how they were half empty--BUT MAYBE AN INDICATION THAT EVERYONE SHOULD STOP ACTING LIKE GNH'S EMPTY SEATS ARE THE MOST MONUMENTAL, DISTRESSING STORY EVER TO PLAGUE THE BRONX--and, as usual in Baltimore, there was a heavy percentage of NY fans. But that's not what got me. What turned me into a little emotional baby was when I saw the volumes of signs being held up expressing support for A-Rod. Not just cheering and clapping, but signs EVERYWHERE welcoming back the best player in the game.

One pitch and the ball became intimidately familiar with the left field bleachers. Fast.

Welcome home, Alex.

Could that have gone any better? Seriously. No. The first pitch he's seen in his 2009 season and he reminded everyone that he's better than them. Maybe not as a person (probably not, actually), and maybe not as a PR savvy celebrity, but I will never in my lifetime see someone that good at baseball. It reminds me of the scene in "Good Will Hunting."

It's as A-Rod took all the months (years, really) of criticisms and people telling him he's overrated, books claiming he's a cheater, fans throwing him under the bus, even the President implying he ruined the game...and in one swing said to everyone with any kind of seriously invested interest in baseball:

"Do you know how fucking easy this is for me?"

I know there's a lot of baseball left to play, and I know one win and one HR isn't going to mean anything if he can't keep it up. And I'm sure he'll strike out many more times (he's got 2 under his belt already) and probably ground into some double plays with runners in scoring position. But much more often than any of that, he's going to be roping it in the outfield and lifting the burden off our 1B's shoulders, who had gotten to the point where he probably cried a little every time the ball was shot to the 3B side and it was anyone's guess where he'd have to jump to make the catch.

A-Rod Day turned out better than I could have ever imagined. With the help of CC's 8K, 4-hitter, complete game shutout (Fantasy Team Enemy Bait thanks you for that one), the Yanks won 4-0 and effectively got back on the track to the their 27th title.

It was like Girardi was in the middle of playing Oregon Trail but wasn't really paying too close attention. He had it set so the wagon moved at the fastest pace, the people in the wagon received the least amount of food, and he never paid the Indian to take him across the river so generally lost a bunch of clothes and oxen when he tried to caulk the wagon.

Then they stopped at like Fort Independence or something, aka Baltimore, and usually Girardi would be like, "Do I want to stop and look around?! No, keep it moving. Oh crap, we lost Nady to fatigue and Posada to dysentery." But something happened and the settings were changed on the game and now they're back on the Oregon Trail and things are looking up.

As for the rest of the team:

  • Jeter's lucky A-Rod hit that bomb though, because it eclipsed the fact that he's been playing terribly for the last few games.
  • My crush on Nick Swisher continues, albeit for no real reason other than the fact he's awesome. When he got called out on third because Kelleher pushed him back to the base, I felt a pang of understanding over the play because if I was the third base coach, I'd want to help Swisher, too.
  • Melky and Cano have returned to 2006 form, where they were this spunky duo of rookies who consistently lit up the offense yet have a hard time securing any fan's trust as a clutch hitter. Hideki's swing is just terrifyingly, unwatchably disgusting. And yet it works for him. I don't try to understand the trappings of the Japanese players. They don't try to learn English, so I think that's fair. And it works fine.
  • Girardi must have caught some flack or so for his completely loony tunes pull of Joba amidst his 12K game, because he let CC play it out. Maybe he was inspired by A-Rod, and thought this game was best suited to remind everyone that the Yankees are built with all-stars who haven't gone anywhere yet. (PS, if I hear one more person rat on the "old, tired mechanics" of the pitching staff, I'm going to explode. Since when is 28 old?? That's the average age of their starting rotation, with 3 of the pitchers under 30.)
  • Their new catcher is looking good. The lump in my throat re-appeared when Cervelli got his first Major League hit and the Yankees dugout called for the game ball. I miss Posada, and a lot has been made of the dire consequences of his absence, but have faith in the Yankees. Cervelli doesn't look half bad. In all things, it is better to hope than despair.

After watching the first hour of the game I home, I moved over to the bar to watch the rest (even though for some reason every tv was showing the Mets game, with just 1 plasma in the corner showing the Yanks? Huh? It's A-Rod Day! Weird.) I'm in hog heaven, the bar's not crowded yet, I got a stool at the bar, 4 mini cheeseburgers and waffle fries, beer, and A-Rod. Then it was like Ace's crew in Stand By Me rolled in.

(Mostly because they were obnxious for no reason beyond the sake of it. Asinine douches whose first priority was to project superiority. They should have picked a different venue, being as they could have been the royal family and no one's going to acknowledge the presence of 4 Boston fans. Yeah, of course they were Boston fans. )

Who wasted no time poking the bear just enjoying her dinner and game.

"Ooooh #13! Go A-Rod, huh?"

See, why is that necessary? There are bars for your type, can't you go there and just leave me to my NY sports devices? But they couldn't. The bar's empty still but they had to situate themselves right next to me, effectively blocking the view of the one tv showing the game. My sister texted me and said, "Well, just tell them they're blocking your view and you don't want to move around them because you need to sit cuz of your leg."

That didn't work. They were hellbent on embracing their Boston thoughtlessness. Also hellbent on pretending they had only a vague interest in the Celtics game when they were down by 20, but as soon as they cut it to a 9-point deficit, the guys were all about establishing themselves firmly in support of the Boston Celtics, screaming about Pierce and Allen, etc.

Unfortunately for them, mercifully for me, the Celtics started tanking again, and the guys pretty much simultaneously became remarkably engrossed in their blackberries. Until one of them made a comment that killed me so much I almost fell off the stool:

"Dude, where's the Bruins game? They on anywhere?"

YES. THERE IT IS! It was like catching the mating habits of a rare exotic bird or something on the Nature Channel. I got to witness firsthand the exciting phenomenon of Boston fans demonstrating a non-interest in the Celtics game that still had 4:00 on the subscribe to an out-of-left-field interest in a Bruins game that was already in the 3rd period.

Well, both of those teams lost. So Boston went 1-3 on #13 Day.

The poetic symmetry was palpable and wonderful.


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