Two and half games up!
My buddy Boston texted me last night, "Hey guess what...sitting in a bar down in Tampa, lots of sad faces at the moment. One chick is totally freaking out."
"Poor girl. Bet she's been a 'diehard fan' for all of 2 years."
"I'd bet about 2 weeks."
Then a few hours later: "Sooo glad my text didn't jinx things. I know how touchy you are about that. If they lost you'd never speak to me again. From now on I'll wait until after the game with my comments just in case ;-)"
(Not just because he managed to figure out how to work around the complete irrational methods around being friends, but also because he managed to grow up in Boston without ever becoming a Red Sox fan.)
I always think that one of the most telling moments between my and my friends was one that happened last year after the Yankees lost to Philly in game 1 of the WS. I was obviously a wreck, completely riddled with anxiety. Still in the bar for some reason, instead of going home and wallowing. And then Strange shows up.
"I'm not gonna say anything. I'm just gonna let you hit my arm as hard you want."
You have to realize that whenever Strange and I play beirut together, I always BEG him to engage in this ridiculous celebratory arm slam thing, reminiscent of Shelley Duncan. And because he's quasi-sane, he refuses. "I'M NOT GONNA LET YOU DEADEN MY ARM NERVES!"
But after they lost that night, he made the ultimate sacrifice. I was touched.
Anyways, I digress. While the pink hat wearers of Tampa "freaked out" watching the Yanks launch their September comeback, I was enjoying a stress-free game for what felt like the first time in years. It was the way things should be: the Yanks are good.
Simple as that. There shouldn't be these unforeseen disasters or problems that result in walkoff losses against the O's or something. I like when things work out the way they should. I hate surprises. It's the same principle behind why I root for the favorite: the favorite is the favorite because they're the best team.
They're the best team because they're the most talented. They're the most talented because they work the hardest. (Don't bring up payroll bullshit. Payroll doesn't make a player talented. The player does.) Why, then, would we PUNISH these stars for excelling?
The Yanks took the 2nd game in a row from the Rays, which was huge if for no other reason than the fact it shut up everyone who thinks the Rays can walk all over the Juggernaut. We're not going anywhere, Tampa. Get used to it.
Our boys hit hard and did it early (uncharacteristically, actually, since I'm used to seeing them play as if Jeter stood up in the dugout in the 8th and announced, "Ok, show of hands: who wants to just take the W here? Everyone? Joba, I can't tell if that hand's raised or not..? Alright whatever, majority rules. Let's get it done.")
The Yanks scored 5 early, propelled by a blast from Swish off BIG GAME JAMES. Ok, I'm sorry, but the fact that the Rays have nicknames like that KILL ME.
It's like when my ex never called me anything other than "Bingo" because once we played Bingo at a bar and I won. You know what that's called?
An N of one.
How do you make these grandiose names like Big Game James with N of some number that's > the number of fingers on my right hand (or left, I guess. Same number on both.)
5-0 in the 1st. 8-3 in the 9th.
Keep it up.
Oh, and just for good measure, Maddon gives me yet another infuriating reason to hate him:
"But we're in New York, we're also close to the theater district and more power to them." --Maddon, on Posada's hit by pitch.
"Close to the theater district." Fucking assclown. Cmon. How old are you? Seriously. It kills me how he thinks he's being so incisive, biting, and clever with his "thinly veiled" comments that are about as nebullous in their interpretation as a multiplication table in the back of a Mead marble notebook.
How's the loss taste, Joe? Yumm.
Our young "starter or reliever?" trifecta wasn't super brilliant, but they got it done for all intents and purposes. It's easy to want to see all 1s and 0s in the line score for your pitchers, but if you're not fortunate enough to cash in on the Binary Code of Hurlers, then the next best thing is to see chunked up stats in the near equally as critical column:
Tampa was hitting, just not when it counted. 10 runners left on base. Conversely the Yanks batted .500 with RISP.
"We had our A lineup in there," Swish boasted.
Good point. For so many games, it seemed we were trotting our weirdo lineups of Nunez and Pena et al. And make no mistake, those guys rose to the occasion and then some. But this is September, the air is cooler, and there's a palpable sense of electricity and playoff fire.
And this is the A team. Remember us, league o' critics and haters? Looks like YOU'RE the ones who should be worried.
Because from where I'm sitting, the Yanks are playing like they're home. And I don't just mean "home" as in 161st street.
But "home" as in September.
Just remember that, contenders, when you're basking in momentum and hope. When it comes to the art of postseason baseball, you're all just descendants of the genius who perfected the craft.
The New York Yankees, World Series Champions.
Eye on the prize, eye on the prize.