Tuesday, June 30: SEA @ NYY (Closing [in] time! Every new beginning starts [and ends] with Mo! This cannot be said for Papelbon.)
Oh, boy. Where to start with this one.
It's amazing that the recap started with that line, because 2 hours into the game, I was so mindnumbingly bored that I found myself actually flipping over to watch RADIO FLYER. Yeah. that's right. The Elijah Wood movie about the brothers who make their red wagon into a flying contraption to escape their abusive alcoholic father. Which would be the 2nd movie in 2 nights whose ending is utterly flummoxing to me.
1.) Radio Flyer: Seems like a normal, Lifetime Movie of the Week-type flick. Then at the end, the little brother flies off a cliff with an airplane he built out of a wagon. Right. No problem! (To say nothing of the fact that the 8 year old flies off to escape the physical perils of his homelife, as if flying a makeshift flying wagon alone off into the world is the airtight course of action for safety.)
2.) Summer Catch: I saw this around 3am last night, and I'd thought I'd seen this movie before, or maybe just felt like I did after reading the amazingly phenomenal book "The Last Best League." But I knew I hadn't seen it when the ending rolled around. I definitely would have remembered an ending that involves a no-hitter playoff game from which the pitcher removed himself because he came to one of those cinematic revelations preceded by a montage of snapshots of the object of his affection. "Oh my God. It just came to me. I love her! And I gotta tell her now!"
A.) Is this something that actually happens in real life, people just realizing they like someone? I can't imagine ever being in the middle of playing Super Mario and then all of a sudden abruptly dropping my remote because I remembered about an infatuation with someone. B.) He left his no-no with 2 outs in the 9th. Really? Couldn't have gotten that last out before running off the field? No one would do that. It's just as unlikely as a guy giving his extra opening day ticket to a girl he just started dating, a la Fever Pitch.
The confusion didn't really end with the aforementioned terrible movies, though. Tonight's game was like one of those nights at a bar, that I'll be pretending-to-watch-golf-highlights-on-SportsCenter bored. Or overly-engrossed-in-the-jukebox bored. And then right when I'm about to just call it a night and head home, some twist of fate will spin the dynamic around 180 degrees, and suddenly it's a whole new ballgame and life is grand.
The Mariners and Yanks were making my eyelids heavy, literally. Like I was watching Bob Ross painting shows. They were playing sloppy, Joba's pitching was extremely Kevin Brown-esque. Seattle seemed to be running around like chickens with their heads cut off, which was advantageous for them on the basepaths, (4SBs, 1 extra base hit), but not so beneficial on defense. Chris Woodward looked like Dan Uggla in last year's All Star Game, committing 2 errors on one play, and almost banking a 3rd shortly thereafter. Jeter was playing a tired SS, and everything in general just felt like it was happening under water.
It started off good for NY, putting 2 on the board right off the bat. But then it dragged on. 2-0. 2-1. 3-1. 3-2. 3-3. Sooo deceptive. Looks like it should've been a glued-to-the-tv kind of a game, based on the scoring trend.
Then: 5-3. 5-5. UGH. What's going on here. If it's going to be this dilatory, then can't it be because the Yanks are having batting practice and teeing off to 10-0 home run derbies? It just shouldn't have gotten to the point of being a poor man's nail-biter.
Melky, being Melky, is the factor that turns it around and makes it a true game. I'm not sure why it took this long to get the game fired up. Or even why the game hadn't given the impression of being fired up for the first 7 innings. Because it looks pretty good in the retrospective boxscore light:
The Yanks were 4-16 with RISP. 3 doubles. Only 1 GIDP. And 1 NASA launch of a rocket HR from A-Bomb himself. He even was a little Manny-like after he connected. I mean, he didn't wait 4 minutes before making the courtesy move towards first base. But he definitely looked like he was giving at least a thought or 2 to an errand he could get done first before starting his jog around the basepaths.
And despite all this, it wasn't until Melky hit the 2nd clutch shot of the night that things heated up. (A-Rod gets the #1 spot on that, which is corroborated by the Ford Drive of the Game. Again with the limitations of prematurely deciding this award. Lots could happen after the top of the 8th.)
Amidst this momentum building, Girardi distracts us once again with his Adventures in Unexplainable Bullpen Moves. Phil Hughes has been extraordinary in relief. Flawless, really. And Kay shares with us a story of when Mo started out, how he had said, "Well I'm a reliever now, but I know I'll get back to the rotation soon enough." Which is exactly what Hughes is now saying. If his story even remotely mirrors that of Mo's, I'm ok with him never stepping foot back in the rotation.
Girardi, however, didn't have any interest in Hughes stepping foot back onto the field, after he retired the side with 9 F-ING PITCHES.
Out. Out. Out.
How did this riddling move play out? Girardi: "Ok, this is good, this is good. Nice, I'm glad my young arm's not wasting too many pitches. Great. Ok, 9 pitches. That's a lot. Wait, no it's not. How many were Joba's? Oh, shit. Was I supposed to take JOBA out after 9 pitches? DAMMIT SOMEONE BRING ME A COPY OF THE JOBA RULES! And yank Hughes until I know what's what. I don't care who you put in. Is Tanyon Sturtze still on the active roster? Call him in. Or whoever's there. Just go alphabetically. BUT NOT ACEVES. I can never remember if he's good or not."
So Bruney trots in, puts the ball in play as much as humanly possible and supplements it with a healthy serving of BBs. Gives up 2 runs to allow Seattle to tie it at 5, and still makes out like a bandit when he logs the big W.
Then there's my favorite reliever. The start of all things good in baseball, the end of all games won for the Yankees. He threw out the ceremonial 1st pitch, after a HS softball team surgically attached themselves to the Yanks, right before the National Anthem started playing. I should have known the game was going to be the opposite of predictable, just from the odd sequence of events punctuating the pre-game ceremonies.
"The answer to the ultimate question of life, universe, of everything...is 42."
--Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galazy
And to make Mo's 501th save even that much sweeter, we have the Sux down in Baltimore doing God knows what to relinquish a 9-run lead. Against the O's. It was sort of the same pattern of game-intensity that Yank fans suffered through. Flipping-the-channel uneventful...turns into Oh crap, we really got a tight one on our hands now.
Papelbon blows the save. Which means I'll officially stab someone in the face if I ever hear even ONE suggestion and insinuation that these 2 pitchers are in the same universe...cough SportsGuy cough...
On June 21, 2006, Bill Simmons writes the following:
Papelbon struck out the side for the victory. It was the kind of thing Rivera would have done.
And that's the right comparison: Mariano Rivera. We have watched dozens of quality relievers over the years, but only a few were dominant forces: Rivera, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, Eric Gagné, K-Rod. That's about it. You can always overspend for Billy Wagner or call up someone like Chris Ray, but how far will that get you? Can we even quantify Rivera's worth compared with that of the average closer? Was there a more indispensable player over the past decade, a bigger disparity between the No. 1 and the No. 2 guys at any other position? We rarely consider closers as MVP candidates, but name another player who came through in the playoffs more times. With the way October baseball works in the 21st century -- three rounds and 19 possible games over four weeks -- an extraordinary reliever might be the single greatest asset for any team.
I remember the date and content of this article so vividly because I keep on file the hate mail I send to him. And hence have this on my hard drive:
You gotta be kidding me with your Papelbon story. It's one thing to assert yet another one of your "bold" claims, acting like you, Bill Simmons, has noticed something special before anyone else did, that your "papelbon is awesome!" contention is BRAND NEW INFORMATION. But as you are usually disposed to do, you have to take it a step further, weaving in your flat, trite, and vapid Rivera comparison. Come on. Seriously? It's Mo. What Mo forgot about baseball, NO ONE will ever come close to knowing. (And not for nothing, but I'm disappointed in you--your comparisons usually have a little more color and acuity than "They are both great closers. Pap must be the next Mo.") Please. Give it up. Try eckerlsey if you insist on using Pap's 12 weeks numbers as a basis of comparison between men who have refined their stats for years. You're just falling in the ranks of all the "Babe or Bond? It's really a question worth debating!" school of thought. It's no wonder ESPN doesn't keep their archives accessible--I can only imagine the similar hopped-up comparisons that were made for Brady Anderson/Brian Roberts/Bill Swift. But since I know you and your cohorts will continue to play Sports Nostradumus just like every other "Boy who cried sleeper," at least make it plausible. And if it's not too much trouble, try to make it interesting.
Now I feel like the guy in Billy Madison with the People to Kill sign.
The point is, the Sux gave up a 9 run lead to the worst team in the AL East. Which meant the Yanks closed in to 2.5 games back. And which also means Yankee fans with the MLB Extra Inning Package got to feast on a 1-2 punch: immediately following the Rivera bookend game, I switched to channel 435 to see the Papelbon look ending game. Symmetry was otherworldly.
I just wished I had caught some of the other games going on. My sister was watching the Mets game out and sent me a text at around 9:22pm that said, "Omg funniest Mets play ever. Look it up. Pop up to center. I can't even describe what happened. But it looked like the CF had money on the other team."
If it wasn't already 2:30am, I'd spend more time trying to locate this Fernando Martinez web gem online. Fortunately, the Mets defense has become the backbone of SportsCenter highlight reels, providing a ready-made 3-ring circus of beauties handed over to the ESPN producers every night they play. And as such, I don't think I'll have to wait long before I see the latest Jerry Manual ulcer splashed across my TV screen.
A final note on the day: Rotoinfo.com releases an unconfirmed list of the 103 names of steroid users in 2003, from which ARod's name was originally extrapolated. I don't know how valid this is, but then again, how was the Mitchell Report developed? Hearsay. According to Deadspin.com, Rotoinfo informed them that the source was highly trusted which was why they were not hesitant to release list on their website.
5:46 PM Lauren: ? how did you find that? my first question is: what sort
of order is this in? from most steroids to least steroids?
While I remain somewhat skeptical, I'll echo my buddy Keith's sentiments here: "Those names just don't come out of nowhere. Nothing's completely arbitrary." And in the meantime as I wait for its validity to be confirmed or denied, I will absolutely not waste any time marinating in the delight upon seeing the names populating the Top 10.
And with that, I'm signing off. A.k.a. watching Baseball Tonight and hoping they go for the juggular(s) in their highlight reels.
UPDATE! 11:17 AM