So I just realized that when I was on my 5-day hiatus on account of a death in the family, when I returned, I misnumbered the game. Tuesday August 10 was actually game 112, not 113. And hence EVERY game number since then has been off.
Speaking of things being off...
I'm at a bar after work, and asking the bartender to change to the YES network, since the game is listed as a 7:07 start time, as per usual in Canadian world of the Great American Pasttime.
But it's not on. And I can't figure out what the hell the press conference with the 2 managers is about, on account of the lack of captioning.
"Maybe the J's just forfeited and this is the post game?" my sis theorized.
I checked my phone: "Delayed."
"Delayed? Due to what? Inclement dome conditions? I don't get it."
I actually didn't figure out what the hell was going on until the game was underway and a camera shot of the J's dugout displayed a row of players with mustaches.
"AHH! What the hell? Why do they all look like that?"
Someone enlightens me, and no offense, but couldn't you guys gone with a commemorative patch or something? Painted mustaches seem kind of cheesy.
My sis and I start talking about the whole ceremony-before-games thing, and we both agreed that it must suuuuuuck to be the visiting team in that kind of a situation. I have like a newfound sympathy and mild empathy for non-Yankee teams, really.
I mean, think about it. Every other game marks some kind of record or commemorative fanfare, whether it's Yogi Berra Day, Lou Gehrig Day, Steinbrenner Day Part 1, Steinbrenner Day Part 2, Jeter breaking the hit record, Arod breaking a homerun record, etc.
And then it's like, if you win you're the bad guys who rained on the parade of poor innocent fans who just want to win one for the gipper. If you lose, well, you got to deal with not only the basic pitfalls of a defeat, but also the exagerrated exclaims of celebration from the home team's stadium, brassly inflated on account of the circumstances.
So, yeah, the Yankees lost this one. I don't think it was because of the ceremony so much as it is because they are playing like they're categorically opposed to showing up against an AL East team.
To be clear, this does not bode well for us come October 6.
Forget about home field advantage, I'm just worried about getting through the game without some kind of implosion.
Speaking of implosion, Javy Vasquez...well, the bloom has fallen from the rose. The rose that wasn't even very fresh to begin with. It was basically like one of those browning roses you get at a bodega in some bizarro color that would suggest the plant was simply marinating in a vat of food coloring prior to being shoved in a communal vase.
He did nail ONE thing though:
"I had nothing," Vazquez said. "I didn't feel like my pitches were sharp at all."
Yup, all of those things are right. You had nothing. And you are very much correct in your assessment of how your pitches were feeling. Who cares your pitching sucks, you're remarkably intuitive for someone who couldn't find the strike zone if it followed him around like a Stage 5 Clinger.
Cito Gaston said this about the game: "What a way to go out."
And I'd like to echo that sentiment. About the Yanks. What a way to go out. They've lost 6 of the last 8, and failed to take the division lead tonight when TB lost to the O's. How did the Yankees win 94 games this year? Seriously. The way they're playing now, it's hard to remember at point they were collecting all these W's.
One bright spot was Arod's homer which means he now has 13 years of 30 dings and 100 ribbies.
Remember how long it took him to knock down his 600th?
The interminable wait?
Well, that's kinda how I feel now. Only instead of waiting for someone to hit a record breaking 600th longball, I'm waiting for a team to play like they're somewhat cognizant of the fact they're gonna be in the postseason in less than a week.
As grim as it sounds, the facts are: lately the Yankees lose more than they win.
All the usual suspects were out in full force terrorizing the Yanks. Hill had 4 ribbies, Snider and Buck took Javy deep in both the 1st and 2nd inning.
But you know, all things considered, the score makes it look worse than it is. I say that a lot, but I feel like I mostly say it about the J's. This is because they go deep like they're batting tennis balls coming out of a pitching machine. That kills us. Take away those sprinkled bombs, and you got an even matchup of head-to-head manufactured runs.
And the Yanks DID have 11 hits and only 2 Ks.
So what's the problem here? Yesterday I didn't know what the problem was because there was too much to choose from.
Tonight I don't know what the problem is because a.) it's after 5am and b.) I'm just too delirious and confused to wrap my head around this and c.) who the hell am I to determine what their problem is? What I know about baseball managerial evaluations you could fit in a thimble and have room left over for what I know about the Oakland A's farm system.
As always, it's a matter of faith.
Faith that this outing will relegate Javy to an early off-season with a playoff roster cut.
Faith that Hughes AJ and Pettitte rise like phoenixes from ashes to pitch the games of their lives in the coming weeks.
Faith that Girardi will lead his team into a 28th title.
Faith that the Yankees will prevail.
Let's take down Boston this weekend. Leave em reeling. They're never know what hit em (if they're even watching baseball anymore).
And we'll use them as leverage to rebound into the playoffs.
Life's a bitch, sometimes, Beantown. Let's go Yankees. 3 up 3 down.
Because there's not a whole lot of better ways to generate momentum than a sweep in Boston.
(PS Boston didn't get into the playoffs. It bears repeating.)
"The essence of the Yankees is that they win. From in front or from behind, they win. And that's why the history of the New York Yankees is virtually the history of baseball." -Dave Anderson, NYT
In this first field experiment, consumers shopping at an upscale grocery store encountered a tasting booth which displayed either a limited (6), or an extensive (24) selection of different flavors of jam. The two dependent measures of customers' motivation were their initial attraction to the tasting booth and their subsequent purchasing behavior.
- Offense (Why does every game seem to spend a good hour and half with a big zero in our runs column?)
- Starters (I think the deadline has officially past for "How Long Can We Wait For _____ To Win Our Confidence?")
- Overall ability to overcome adversity (Not only do I not have the characteristic 2009 faith that we can overcome a 10-run deficit in the 9th inning with 2 outs, but I don't even have a garden variety confidence in holding onto multi-run leads. I know, I know. But sadly, it's kind of how I feel right now.)
Alright so after getting emotionally crushed Friday and Saturday, I banked on them not getting swept and hence just doing a series recap. I didn't have it in me to recount the phenomenal comeback that fell short...and then the mini-comeback that fell really short.
I left the bar I was watching it at on Friday, when the score hit 10-1, and made my way back to the office to get my stuff before making my way back uptown. By the time I had reached work, it was 10-5. I figured I'd stay and listen to the game for an inning or two.
Then it's 10-6.
9th inning rolls around, and a couple more dings put us within 2.
A man in scoring position, and an MVP candidate at the plate. It was storybook.
Only it ended up being not one of those cliched storybooks where you can guess the ending. It was one of those surprise endings where the hero doesn't actually get the girl. Like in "500 Days of Summer" or something.
Then Saturday? Ugh.
The thing was, is that Lester and Beckett are both pitchers that the seemed to have figured out. In recent memory, neither of them posed a problem. But the other thing was that there's always the chance that they return to form. Like on Saturday night, me and my sis were playing this team in beirut.
The male member of the team, who is typically an ace, was playing horribly, and the female member was inprobably carrying the team. When it was getting down to the final cups, I started to get nervous every time she shot.
"Relax," my sis says. "She only hits one out of every 3 times."
And she was right. Weirdly, she was exactly right. And that's kind of how it is with the Boston starters.
Unfortunately, both Lester and Beckett's infrequent overpowering of the Yanks came on consecutive days.
The AL East is very weird right now. All the teams that are pretty much out of contention (for all intents and purposes) are putting up fights. Annoyingly. Like the O's. (Although, that isn't so much annoying as it is cute. Like the Little Giants taking down Ed Harris' pee wee football team.)
Nova was knocked out early, and I think we can all agree now that he's good for what he is but he isn't all that. (I got that line from "Sister Act." Yup.) Actually he's good for about 5 innings usually, but let's not subscribe to any inflated delusions of him being our mysterious X-factor in the playoffs.
Lester had a no-no going for 6 innings, and seriously, people really are getting jacked up about no hitter bids earlier and earlier every season. By 2012, I'm gonna see across the news ticker at the bottom of the screen, "SCORE ALERT: Joe Blanton perfect through 2...stay tuned."
I honestly think that after Dallas Braden did his whole Faustian 27 up-27 down thing, the sports world just assumes that anything's possible and that no-no's are being handed out as free gifts for signing up for a Mastercard or something.
But alas Super Mario breaks up the no hitter, mercifully. I don't want to give Sux fans anything to grab onto in desperation when they're escorted into the bleak off-season while the Yanks are still gunning. And you KNOW they'd be like, "WHATEVER, you may be in the postseason, but Lester OWNS your sorry asses!"
Actually, what am I saying. They're going to latch onto some other ridiculous argument. Oh yeah. I know. The Giants. Is it psychotic that I'm getting preemptively infuriated at this, at the imaginary Sux fans who are giving me grief about the Gmen to console themselves about their baseball team?
Arod and Grandy both went yard, and I'm really liking how the big bats are taking it upon themselves to score. Like "Eff this noise. This manufacturing runs thing aint really taking. Let's go all Kobe Bryant and just try to win the games ourselves." I know, I know. It's better to manufacture runs. But I like the fact that when we need the runs, the long ball is still firmly entrenched in our lineup's capabilities.
Currently, 15 out of the last 18 runs the Yanks have scored have been driven by homeruns.
What I DON'T like? Is giving up. (Obviously. I mean, who does? Except for my mom, maybe, who told me on my first day of cross-country preseason: "Ok, if you get tired, STOP. Don't keep running or anything. Just...stop.") And this quote from Arod sounds suspect:
"We need somebody to go out and shut the door on the other team. When you're
down five or six runs, it's hard to play with an edge."
Well, yeah, maybe with THAT defeatist attitude it is! That mentality worries me, Alex. And quite frankly, doesn't really seem to be the case since you guys managed to come back from a 10-1 deficit the night prior, and spent pretty much all of last year covered in shaving cream pies.
And who exactly is this "somebody" he's talking about? I can't imagine the bullpen being too thrilled about the fact Arod's all "Man, it's too bad we don't have any reliable middle relief!"
Oh, well. Whatever, I don't like most of the middle relievers anyway, what do I care.
Ah, and there's Game 3.
First of all, let me say that I was utterly shocked by the ESPN booth tonight. SHOCKED. I have NEVER heard them announce a game this impartially. I mean, of course they weren't impartial at all, but for them it was impartial. Like if a boyfriend gives a girl a bag of Rolos for Valentine's Day or something, when he's normally a cheap, unromantic bastard, and then the chick can say, "Aww, well for HIM, that's so so so adorable!"
But yeah, Morgan and Miller were getting all fired up for the Yanks whenever something legitimately exciting happened. I swear, I was so unsettled by this whole thing. What's your game? What's your ANGLE? Something's up.
Yeah I'm on to you guys. Nice try.
My youngest sis was at the game. Her first Yankee-Boston game. I was so proud. Phil Hughes got the ball instead of Moseley. Why was this even up for debate? I'm confused. Why is Moseley a starter? Or on the roster? All he does is stay under the radar. Seriously. He's like he somehow made being irrelevant a marketable asset.
Hughes gives up 1 run and 3 hits in a little over 6 innings, while Matsuzaka whiffed 7 in 8 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits.
The following are things I don't understand about Dice-K:
- The fact $53 million was shelled out just to talk to him
- The existence of a gyroball that was allll the rage and then never discussed again
- The rampant toting of his ability to go soooo far into the game and consistently eat up innings without getting tired
- The fact I feel like he comes and goes in and out of the Sux roster/rotation like he's a freelancer or something
- The fact I feel like he indiscriminately spends weeks at a time on the DL for fatigue
- His suspicious "inability" to speak English
The Sux take a 1-0 lead when V-Mart drives in Bill Hall in the 3rd. Now might be a good time to bring up the fact I recognize about 2 people on the Sux roster these days. Kalish? Andersen? Patterson? I'm so confused.
I said to Laur at one point, "This game is flyyiiiinnng. At the rate it's going, it'll be done by 10."
Talk about your all time "spoke too soon" moments. I felt like I should have had some kind of sitcom "irony" sound effect ring in the background.
Arod gives the Yanks the lead with a 2-run shot to right that bounced off some fan's hands, and boy is he pissed about that. He is KICKING himself and also, it's on camera, so how embarrassed is he tomorrow when he's at the K-cup machine making some Columbian Roast and his coworkers start filing in to give him unmitigated hell?
Ah well. Oh and btw, Arod's hit something like .600 for the series, with 4 homeruns.
Also, my sister and I decided that if a clinical study was done on the effect of his absence from the room during Arod AB's was compared in a placebo-controlled trial, the results would demonstrated statistical significance.
So much so that when he was batting and I heard her flush the toilet and start to re-enter the living room, I nearly jumped off the couch trying to get her to go back inside.
"STAY IN THERE!! DON'T MOVE. AROD'S BATTING."
Then: "AHHHHH!! OK COME OUT NOW! HE HIT A HOMERUN, YANKS LEAD 2-1!"
But then the bad guys took the lead. Because Mariano Rivera blew the save.
It's ok, Mo.
God, he looked SO SAD on the mound. Like he was going to cry. I felt so bad.
Fortunately, Papelbon sucks, and he's the #1 guy I want to see on the mound if a comeback is needed.
Ah, what a difference a year makes, eh? Remember when he was the "next Mo"? Idiots.
But WAIT. HERE IS THE BEST PART OF THE WHOLE THING. THE THING THAT ENCAPSULATES THE TRUE SPIRIT OF BOSTON AND THE THING THAT EPITOMIZES WHY JONATHAN PAPELBON IS A RED SOCK:
"It was tough considering the fact that I was not only pitching against
their lineup, I was also pitching against the ump," Papelbon said. "When you do
that against this lineup, you are never going to be successful."
Are you kidding me?? Yeah THAT'S why you lost. Blame it on the ump. How old are you? Six? As my dad would say, "Go wait in the car.'
As I would say, "You're beneath us."
As my sis said, "Ha! See? Now YOUR closer blew the save too. So leave Mo alone."
Yeah, he had a rough night. He let baserunners go nuts. 3 SBs against him. Even the ESPN idiots noted, "This is not very AL East-like baseball. Aggressive base running? Creating runs? Hmpf."
So the Boston schmuck lets the Yanks tie up the game, and I start to remember how I thought the game was gonna be over by 10, and then remembered how the teams are contractually obligated to meet the 15 hour quota for every Greatest Rivalry in Sports series.
And hence we go into extras.
Pretty soon the bases are loaded, in part due to V-Mart tripping while trying to field GGBG's bunt. In a very predictable and very pathetic display of theatrics, he starts blaming the errant throw on an ambiguous injury. Maybe his ankle? No one knows for sure. When that didn't work, he tried saying GGBG was running in fair territory.
No dice, losers.
The game is in the hands of a guy who doesn't even look at the plate when he's pitching. He's closing his eyes and looking downward.
So it came as no surprise when he walked in the winning run. Juan Miranda's easy patience at the plate brought in GGBG and then Yanks awkwardly celebrate with wild abandon. I say "awkward" because, well, it's a walk-off WALK. I say "wild abandon" because, well, it was a HUGE win, and this fact was not lost on anyone.
(BTW, where was the pie? Did I just change channels too quickly? Because I didn't see any.)
Miranda got the Chevy Player of the Game, but I thought it should have been Golson, for tricking Francona into intentionally walking Jeter. That was very important, Greg. Well done.
It seemed fitting that the walk-off walk clinched at least a tie for the Wild Card. You know? Like, yes it's awesome to nearly guarantee a playoff spot, but how much more anticlimatic is a "tie for the Wild Card"? It's the same deal as a walk-off walk. Exhilirating. But with a glass ceiling.
So, the Yanks basically just have to win 1 game to clinch the playoffs for real. HOWEVAH, this is irrelevant because we all know the Yanks are winning the division.
It's the YANKEES. It's almost OCTOBER.
It's their thing.
Have faith in the Yankees.
They know what they're doing.
Cheers to a crazy momentum-generating week of wins that culminate in a soul-crushing sweep of the Sux at Fenway next weekend.
What better way is there to roll into the postseason than at the expense of the pathetic also-rans from New England?
The answer is very few.
HERE WE GO, BOYS...
So I'm thinking that the whole thing with the Rays is more annoying than we suspect. I mean, I hate it as much as anyone when Kay goes into his whole "you know, this is like a playoff preview!" rants, as if he's presenting us with brand new information that only a season sports journalist could possibly be intuitive to.
"I know on paper it looks good, but from my perspective I don't take anybody for granted," Maddon said. "We just have to keep playing the kind of game we played the last two nights. I've been an anti-assumptionist for the last few years -- I don't want to start right now."
And the Rays come back fightin'! It reminds me of the end of "Rounders" when Matt Damon goes into the lion's lair, aka KGB's den o' poker sin. And Teddy KGB is making fun of his youthful confidence:
A new day, huh. And you will not..be..pushed..around. Good show, Rays. (Of course, this "Rounders" analogy isn't panoptic by any stretch, since in the movie Damon ultimately takes down the favorite, the underdog prevails, etc. But we all know that there's no way the Yankees would ever mirror the denouement of any movie that Bostonian Damon champions. No chance lance.)
So the sprightly Rays and their spiteful manager power past the Yanks in an arduous game that I think most fans and players may have tired of well before the last strike was thrown. That's not ALWAYS the case with rain delays. I'd say that about 75% of the time, I'm handcuffed to the game just as much as ever, even with the cheesy "Getting to Know the Real Yankees!"-esque fillers that--while interesting--mainly serve as a guillotine to momentum and vested excitement in the game at hand.
Today, admittedly, wasn't one of those games for me. I don't even know where the rain came from, it was like 70 degrees and cloudless all day today, then all of a sudden I see the tarp being rolled out. It reminded me of the time my mom took my parents' cat to the emergency vet in the middle of the night, and the cat's sitting patiently in his carrier with the woodtick on his neck getting more engorged by the second, when all of a sudden I notice the cat's basting in pee sloshing around him.
"Um, Mom? I think Grey pissed in the carrier.."
"WHAT?! He did not. Are you serious??"
"But...but...I don't understand. He never even made any indication that he had to go."
That's how I felt. Grey never tapped my mom on the shoulder and asked if he could stop at a Dunkin Donuts real quick to use the litter box facilities. And the rain never made indication it was coming, either.
In both cases, the abrupt nature of the surprise didn't make it any less annoying to deal with.
To state the obvious, rain delays end up reducing the game to only 1 or 2 mitigating factors. It's usually the bullpen. The game ends up coming down to watch team can a.) endure longer, and b.) patch together a better string of relievers.
AJ gave up 1 run in 3 innings, while Wade Davis had a no hitter going. (There was a good amount of talk in the booth about the kosher-ness of pointing this out....ultimately they all agreed that Vin Scully said it was ok to do, and he's the bible on broadcasting protocol.)
What KILLED me though was how Kay had the nerve to be all, "Oooh, are we allowed to even say that? Uh oh. Not cool" when he wastes NO time hauling in the floats and parades if CC so much as has a hitless 1st. "CC IS PERFECT THROUGH ONE EVERYBODY. HEAR THAT? NO RUNNER HAS REACHED BASE AT ALL. WE'RE WATCHING HISTORY UNFOLD RIGHT NOW!"
2 hours of thunder and lightening later, the players take the field, Tampa holding on to its paltry 1-0 lead, the Yankees HITLESS THROUGH FOUR!!! AHHHHH!!!
After Crawford singles in a run in the 5th to make it 2-0, Berkman breaks up the NO HITTER with a solo shot, cutting the lead to 1. Manageable, you'd think. But I gotta admit, even with the 2-1 game against the AL East nivals*, I was still losing steam.
This is not to say the PLAYERS were, because Teixeira was playing like he was auditioning for a roster spot, with pro scouts in the stands or something. Oh Mark! You do something incredible every game. EVERY GAME! It's amazing!
We only got to enjoy the close game for a little bit, actually, since Dan Johnson hit his 102nd homerun against the Yanks in about a week. Or that's what it felt like anyway. We had a little nip-tuck-back-and-forth thing going for the next inning or so.
Arod singles in Jeter, both of who are making discernible swing changes and plate discipline alterations that are gonna undoubtedly pay us big dividends in the coming weeks/months even. Our captain was 2-for-4, so we can hopefully put this whole Jeter-in-the-market-for-LifeAlert-and-Hoverchairs panic epidemic behind us?
3-2 score lasted about a minute til Crawford and Longoria hit b-2-b bombs in the 7th in the span of 4 seconds basically. 3 pitches (literally) from Gaudin and it's a 5-2 game.
Jonathan ALbasajsdkj [sic] walked in a run, and I'm gonna look at this positively: At least he didn't up a grand slam!
So, yeah, it was a lousy game. The Rays left 11 men on base, but that's nearly 3 times the number of men that the Yanks even ever had in scoring position. The lumber slept tonight, the pitching was listless, and it's almost like they pitched like they were scabs. The "guys we didn't really want playing if we had our druthers, but they'll have to do because of unforeseen circumstances of nature beyond our control."
Hmpf. You know, our BATTERS who come in to these types of "Know your role, and it's not important" situations (ie Pena, Colin Curtis, Nunez, et al) did the opposite and rose to the occasion. Relievers can be such whiny bitches, I swear. I would KILL to have your job, where the most work you're expected to do is a couple of hours a week (if that).
It's like Strange astutely noted:
Our relievers played like they were doing us a favor or something.
The rampant sense of entitlement in this society is disturbingly pervasive, I swear to God.
Sigh. So we lost. Here are the byproducts of this:
A.) Losing always sucks.
B.) Rays gain ground, now only 1.5 back in standings.
C.) Rays think they're just as good as us.
D.) The whole "playoff preview" thing.
E.) The fact the Rays are 9-8 against the Yanks for the season. If the division somehow ends in a tie, there's the obvious rule of going by whichever team has the better season record.
And lastly, I really can't stand Maddon. I hate how the Rays celebrating the game loudly and exagerratingly. Really. That's a word, shut up.
And the shut up part goes for you, Maddon.
C'mon Yanks. Bring out the big guns tomorrow.
Show the scrubs that we will not be pushed around.
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.
"His No. 1 priority was for us to win," Jeter said. "We're happy we were able to do that."
Tampa always seem to have a front row seat to the Yanks big moments. It’s like we’re rubbing our storied history and legendary status in their faces. It’s our way of saying, “Oooh you think you’re big time not because you’re the rising stars of the AL East? That’s great, small fry. But don’t forget who you’re dealing with…WE’RE. NOT. GOING. ANYWHERE.”
Last year. In the last regular season game of the year, Arod managed to hit 10 RBIs and 3 homeruns, one of which was a grandslam, which enabled him to maintain his 13-year streak of 100 ribbies and 30 dings. WHO DOES THAT?
This year, the Yanks honored the late Steinbrenner twice, both times prior to playing the Rays, and both times the Yanks made their long-time leader proud. First a Swish walkoff win in July, and last night it was a gritty 8-6 victory that featured clutch hitting, unrelenting pitching, and of course, a good old fashioned Mariano Rivera save (his 32nd of the season).
Jeter finally decided to show up (sorry, that was a little harsh—you know what I mean, though), singling in the go-ahead run in the 6th, and setting up Grandy to hit his 2nd bomb of the night. The 3-run shot put the Yanks up 8-4, and saved them from what could have been a heartbreaking loss.
I mean, think about it. They had a 4-0 lead, with bases loaded in the 4th. It’s the Boss’s big day. It’s the opening game of a crucial homestand (that followed an annilihating road trip), and more importantly, the opening game of a series that 77% of fans polled agreed would most likely determine who would win the AL East.
But they won. They pulled ahead despite the heartened rally from the Rays, and they chipped another game off their playoff berth magic number. And tacked on a game to their lead in the standings to plucky Tampa Bay.
This was only the second time in 15 meetings between the teams this season in which Tampa Bay didn't lead. And yet, the Yanks now officially lead them in the season’s record. What’s this tell us? (No, I’m actually asking. I don’t really know. If I had to hazard a guess? Maybe that the Yanks are fueled by trailing when it comes to their novel rivals. Their “nivels,” if you will.)
Nova gave us what’s becoming a pretty formulaic outing. Cream cheese through 5, then ehhh kinda shaky come the 6th. I’m really okay with this, considering the depth and strength of our pen (knockonwoodknockonwood). 3Rs, 2 hits, 2 BBs. Then…he’s ALMOST through 6 IP, and the game’s tied on account of Nova letting the first 4 runners on, and Cervelli’s interference putting Crawford on base, all of a sudden TB’s on the board.
Gaudin comes in, Mo closes, etc etc. One of my favorite parts of the game? Maddon calling in the wrong reliever, which, I’m not 100% sure I really believe. I mean, it’s ridiculous. And not that far a cry from Harry and Lloyd in Dumb & Dumber “miscommunicating” the 10:00 AM or PM date with Mary Swanson.
Let’s review the congruous nature:
“10:00 in the morning! I just thought she was a raging alcoholic!”
“GRANT BALFOUR! He doesn’t even look like Randy Choate!”
Cmon, dipshit. How hard is it to call in a righty instead of a lefty? Call me paranoid, but I think Maddon just doesn’t want to admit he needs to put up his hands, making right angles with his thumb and pointer fingers, and using that as a quick guide to determining his left and right.
Or maybe my favorite Tampa Denial moment was from Matt Garza, who’s lost his last 9 games against the Yankees:
Garza gave up seven runs -- five earned -- eight hits and four walks in 5
"I didn't think I threw the ball that bad," he said.
Garza has allowed 17 earned runs in his last three starts, raising his ERA from 3.46 to 4.01, after giving up 17 earned runs in his previous 11 outings.
So while it was a pretty hard fought game, and a pretty big win, there were undoubtedly some underwhelming moment…like Tex/Arod/Cano going 0-13.
Um..well, ouch. For starters.
Good showing, boys. The Boss would have been proud.
And I’m not really going to go into the whole to-do about Torre and Cashman’s big reunion. I will say I applaud Yankee fans for being so magnanimous with their warmth and acceptance and forgiveness. I, however, am not as understanding.
99.9% of every Yank fan I know has readjusted their opinion when it comes to Torre and his tell-all. “Welllll, I mean…he DID get screwed by George, etc etc.”
Nope, I couldn’t care less. You threw your family under the bus.
And to that I gotta echo some of the most immoveable lines in cinematic history: “I love you. But don't ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.”
Not the best Sunday in terms of sports.
Pretty miserable, actually.
If the Giants had won tonight and not been blown out in a wildly embarrassing fashion, then the 4-3 extra innings loss to the O's wouldn't be as hard-hitting, I think.
But it was one of those things where it's like if you hadn't already stepped in a puddle on your way to work, then spilling coffee on yourself wouldn't be so depressing.
There are very few good things to come out of today, but if I had to identify them I'd say that winning the week in fantasy playoffs was one. Jahvid Best's monster week was two. And Andy Pettitte's triumphant return was three.
Yeah, he didn't get the win, but let's look at the bright side. He looked GOOD. The parts of the game I saw before having to begrudgingly retreat to the office for the better part of the afternoon, showed that Andy was as sharp as ever. His pitch location was masterful, and I have very few complaints about the guy who came off what seemed like a 23-year-long DL, and re-entered the fray to let up just 1 run.
When Andy left the game it was 3-1, and I thought it was in the bag, and that it was safe to start making moves towards midtown east. Our bullpen was infallible, yeah? And cmon, it's the 8th inning. We just need really one decent reliever to come in, and then it's Mo time. And then it's game over.
I mean, that's what you'd think, anyway.
Joba and Boone came in in succession after Pettitte was pulled. They did good jobs.
Kerry Wood relieved Logan in the 8th, he didn't do a great job at all. But in fairness, letting up 1 run isn't the end of the world. He didn't give up the lead or anything. No big. And it's hard to get all fired up about it when PIE is the guy with the ribbie.
Btw, why WHY WHY WHY if your name is spelled P-I-E, would you EVER pronounce it pee-A?? It's like Satan playing for the Devils and saying, "Ohhh yeah I can see why you'd think that but actually it's pronounced say-TAN." Really? I mean, really? Why would you do that? Sigh.
Again, no big deal. 3-2. Pie gets a ribbie. And it's Mo time. I think I'm going to get home in nice happy place and have some restful thoughtfuls to prepare for the Gmen game.
Instead, I have to listen to Sterling flap his lips with his whole "it is high" etc call, and all the while I'm knowing full well that this isn't a "high-far-grounded out to shortstop" call. I know this is the real thing.
And it was. I don't know why or how Sterling gets so excited and worked up about opposing team dings. Grumble grumble. And there it was. Mariano Rivera came in the 9th inning to close out a 3-2 game against the Orioles. And he gave up a solo bomb to Luke Scott, which sends the game into extras.
I couldn't listen anymore. I couldn't leave the office til the game was over, but I couldn't bear to listen to the radio broadcast of it. I get too sad listening to walkoffs against the Yanks, and an extra inning game on the road has the very distinct possibility of effecting that troubling fate.
I watched Gamecast, watched how the Yanks never seemed to be able to bring about one of the blue circles with the "In play, run scored" caption. The side struck out in the 10th.
The 11th? Different story. Tons of little blue "in play" circles. In fact, the Yanks managed to load the bases with the top of their lineup. After Arod walked, and his running replacement Nunez gets to 3rd on some sloppy defense, manic base running, the O's intentionally walked Jeter and Tex.
And only 1 out. ALL we needed was a base hit. A walk. Anything. And we take the lead. How hard could that be?? Apparently for National Leaguers like Lance Berkman it's harder than he's used to.
So where would you say grounding-into-double-plays rank on your all time most deflating feelings when you're watching your team with golden scoring opportunities? It's pretty high, in my book anyway.
I still don't know how the Yanks got out of the 11th without bringing in a runner. ESPECIALLY when the O's managed to do it in about 2 swings of the bat. Scott doubles.
Wigginton brings him in.
Time to move on.
You know, right afer we hear about 23021 comments about Mo only being human and not a chinese..a.
A tragic ending to a crappy Sunday. Let's move one. We got Tamap Bay in OUR hosue, and something tells me that the Yanks acrsually DO get proud and excitement about have the home field edge.
So I were you guys, I'd give your offense some back up plan.
You other fans can't deny,
When he takes the mound, and he's throwing down, a fastball down the pipe,
Gonna go all game,
Cuz those pitches packing flames
Deep in the game he’s playing
I'm hooked and I can’t stop saying
Oh, CC I wanna just win one,
I don’t care you weigh a ton.
My fantasy league tried to tell me,
That gut you got will get you shelled, C.
Ooh love that slider,
You say you wanna get in the Bronx,
Well, strike 3, strike 3, cuz you aint that average fatty.
I've seen your changeup,
To hell with your flub.
Ks, ERA, who cares how much you weigh?
I'm tired of magazines,
Saying thin arms are the things,
Take the average Yank fan and ask him that,
Starter’s gotta pack much fat.
So Bombers, (yeah!) Bombers (yeah!)
Has your pitcher got the pounds (nom nom!)
Well throw it, throw it, throw it, throw it, throw that porker heat,
CC. GOT. GUT.
Good God. Yesterday was quite a day.
After a long day at the office, I make it to Duke's to watch the game. The Yanks take an early 1-0 lead with a bomb from Arod in the 2nd. Yay! Arod hits a solo! (I was actually gonna say, there's something about an early homerun against the O's doesn't really do much in terms of getting the fans fired up. HOWEVAH, last night, it literally did set off fireworks.)
Baltimore, you are so dumb. For realz.
Someone accidentally let loose with the pyrotechnics display behind the scoreboard after Arod goes yard. Ha.
It's weird watching games while you're eating at a bar, because with all the external stimuli, you're bound to get a little tangled up in your sense of continuity. So you can look at the screen and it's 1-0 in the 2nd, and then you can look at it again in what feels like 3 minutes, and you're confused to see that innings of time have lapsed, and somehow the O's have taken a 2-1 lead.
Markakis hit a sac fly in the 3rd that scored Izsturis, who had gotten on base from a HBP.
Jones goes deep and then all of sudden (ie like 5 innings later) I see we're down 3-1 when some guy named Andino (who are these people?? I need the MLB extra innings package again) homers.
You know what was sad? 2 months ago, I'd have been screaming and getting heart palpitations over losing to the O's. But I realized as I was finishing up my chicken fingers and ranch that I wasn't shocked or angry. Just disappointed. And there's nothing sadder than self-awareness of complacency.
Then everything got crazy. Complacency turned into frenzy. By the time I've made my way back uptown and into my apartment, the game had ended.
"The yankees win" said a text from my buddy.
"?!! Really? NICEEE."
"You know how it happened?"
"Was on subway, how did it end already?"
"2 outs, 2 strikes, 2 on, 2 down. 9th inning. Arod 3-run shot."
And everything was right in the world.
The first thing I thought of? Michael Kay making his little "And the Yankees are down to their final strike" laments. And then the feeling of the whole world changing.
Well, maybe not the whole world, but you know what I mean. It's amazing how swiftly the entire mood of a night can change. In one swing of the bat. How one swing of the bat can change not just the mood, but the game, the American League standings, the palate of hope and optimism in Yankee Universe.
It's amazing how one call can change all that, too.
Watching the replays, I saw how the pitch prior to the homerun was a borderline strike that Arod let sail inside. Ball.
And I saw how Arod did everything he could to mask his smile of surprise and relief.
You got lucky on that one, boy.
But on the next one, you were good.
I'd rather be good than lucky.
Mo closed out the game, and the Yankees won 4-3. Their 8th 1-run game in the last 10.
I'm ready for a blow out game. (In our favor, of course.) These 1-run heart stoppers are fun if you're idly watching a game with no vested interest in it, but in the last month of the regular season, when your team is barely hanging on to the division lead, when your team needs more than oxygen than to gain momentum...well, then I can do without the drama.
What I want is reassurance that we'll be ok come the playoffs.
And with one swing of the bat, Arod did his part to help give me that.
It doesn't mean everything's different, but it means it can be.
Ok, in OTHER game news, no word yet on why AJ looked like he got into a bar brawl moments before taking the mound.
He's such a psychopath. A looney who pitched a good game though. 7 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 5 Ks. Not bad. I'll take it. Millwood definitely pitched better but Yankee bats love teeing off on Japanese relievers, it seems.
Things are getting weird in the Yankee clubhouse. Random black eyes, Jeter faking injuries...it's like the twilight zone. Like watching an episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." I'm never really sure I'm following it, but it's entertaining, and it's better to just enjoy it then make sense of it.
And speaking of things that you enjoy but can't make sense of, the last element of weirdness in the night?
The "Gallery Exhibition" I went to at Strange's place. For the last few weeks, I was working on this big covert operation painting for one of their roommates.
And last night the prank came to a head.
Brendan Schmitt unveiled what he believed was going to be a painting of a troll (a symbol of going to bars and picking up chicks, I believe?)...but the unveiling revealed much more.
Yep. That's where my life's at.
The reaction Brendan had to seeing himself in the buff was as priceless as anyone could have hoped.
Shocking moment #2 of a night where nothing at all made sense.
And everything worked out perfectly.
On August 29th of last year, this was the Toyota Poll flashed across the YES screen:
"Do you think Tampa Bay has given up on their season? Text your answer to..."
And it was a legit question. Maddon was being a weirdo. Arbitrarily benching Crawford, being an absentee managerial voice...but it's a whole 'nother ballgame when they're taking the first place spot away from the detested Evil Empire.
"My goodness," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "This guy does nothing but get big hits."
Alright, let's not polish your Mr. September/Mr. Clutch cuff links yet, buddy. You're still just a small fry.
I went to dinner with my sis and my buddy and we sort of followed the game as well as we could on the 1 blurry-beyond-the-telling-of-it-to-the-point-where-it-made-me-feel-blinder-than-I-already-am television set that was tucked in the corner of the Italian restaurant in midtown.
After an impromptu client meeting at 5:30, I ended up not getting home til after 8. My phone was dead, and I know it's cliched, but good God, you really just don't know exactly how chemically dependent you are on our freaking cells until we have to walk for like 15 minutes without having any default activity to do.
And today it was particularly excrutiating not having the slightest idea of what was going on in the game. Kinda like a few years ago when Giambi was playing first and whenever there was a play there, I kind of had to close my eyes and cringe and just wonder where in God's name the play was gonna end up.
Unfortunately, I couldn't even remotely hazard a guess as to what I'd be walking into when I turned on UPN 9. Nova vs Garza. Talk about complete question marks, man. I tell ya.
I was DELIGHTED to see the score was a nice, comfortable 5-0. (Sadly, I actually looked at that like 120 times before I fully believed and accepted that the Yanks were up. What the hell is wrong with me? In fairness, my eyes are for crap. I've imagined much worse than scores.)
My sister comes over, we split the NFL Sunday Pasta leftovers, and I mumble through bites of bolognese sauce, "5-run lead. I swear to God, if the Yanks lose this, then....then...I don't know. I mean, I'd just-- Yeah. I'D TOSS IN THE TOWEL. I'd die. I'd actually die."
"No you wouldn't, don't say that."
"I wouldn't actually die. Fine."
"You wouldn't toss in the towel either. It doesn't matter anyways, the Yankees aren't gonna lose."
These are how annoying sitcoms are set up. We might as well have had said, "What could possibly go wrong?"
A short trip outside to get a box of cat food, a bar of soap, and Pepsi, and then we're back in my apartment. 10 minutes later.
"Oh, God. Oh, God. Don't come over here. Stay over there. You don't want to look at this. Oh, God. Please don't look."
My sister sounded like Morgan Freeman at the end of Seven when he was trying to convince Brad Pitt not to look in the box, in an effort to keep him from discovering his wife's severed head.
In this case, the severed head was a 7-6 score.
The Yanks had given up a 6 run lead. And were now losing with less than half the game left to play.
You know what sucks about that? Not just that they gave up the chunky lead, but that even if they do come back and end up winning it, it's just almost like bringing you to baseline. Like winning $500 on a scratch off ticket but then having to use the whole thing to pay for a chipped tooth or something.
Additionally, all the great offense that occurred prior to the blown lead becomes almost somewhat negated. The moon shots from Arod and Cano that reminded me of the way things used to be... the working-the-count-walk-in-a-runner...the run-manufacturing ribbies from the heart of the lineup...
Everything that happened before the 5th inning was just a bright reaffirmation of what makes the Yankees championship material.
It was the best of times.
Soon it was the worst of times.
Since I was somewhere in the vicinity of the bodega on 88th and York, I didn't actually SEE what happened to make the score 7-6. I didn't particularly have any interest in rewinding the DVR, either.
But I started going through the "stages." The stages I talked about after the 0-0 11 inning fiasco on Monday.
I seamlessly slipped into the "muting the tv in the bottom of the inning" stage and very quickly entered the "hanging out on the roof and checking the score on my Blueberry" stage.
At one point I had said to Laur, "Last year the Yanks kept finding new and different ways to establish their domination. This year, they're being very crafty about unveiling different ways to lose."
"Ugh, God. I know."
But they didn't lose. And I can't even begin to imagine the hell that would have been unleashed if they had. With one swing, Posada put the Yanks back in 1st place. A bomb in the 10th that went nearly 450 feet.
FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY FIVE FEET!
Garza and Nova both had about equal outings, the game was handed over to the bullpen, and for some reason, the Yanks just weirdly seem to always come out on top in this area. Realllly didn't think I'd ever be saying that.
Between both teams, 12 relievers came in, 7 from Tampa.
It's always nice to see relievers get us out of jams. More so than seeing starters do it. My sister's friends once all collectively burst with joy when someone walked into their apartment and said, "Is this delivery?" and they hence had the opportunity to say, "NO IT'S DIGIORNIOS!"
Similarly, I love watching effective relief outings because it's like, "Neat! The reliever position IS an actual position. It's doing its job! And our relievers are performing exactly how we wanted! It's perfect!"
After Logan gave up a 3-run bomb to Aybar in the 5th, the relievers were flawless. No hits for the rest of the game, including the heart-jumping-into-throat warning track shot in the 9th off the bat of Longoria.
The play of the game? The throw Golson made after he caught Matt Joyce's fly out to right. Laur and I both agreed it was perhaps the best throw we'd ever seen. It beat Crawford to third, who was tagging up, on one bounce.
Thank you Cano, Jorge, Arod, and Golson.
Thanks for not losing, Yankees. Part of me thinks, yeah it would have been easy to give up after blowing that big lead.
But you came back. You won.
PLEASE KEEP IT UP!
You're the YANKEES. This is TAMPA. They play in the Trop. Yech. You're filet mignon and they're Friday's chili bowl.
Never forget who's boss.
"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is.”--Bob Feller
I can't even write about this. This was undoubtedly the worst moment of the season in my humble, CYC opinion.
And unlike the game before, I was awake to see it.
Before I moved into the city in 2003, I was taking the train from Tarrytown into NY, and the last train back to T-town left at 1:20am. Every time I took it, I always fell asleep. Yet my body somehow ALWAYS woke me up right before I got to my stop. It was pretty convenient.
(I lost this ability some time in the last 7 years though, since there have definitely been times when I woke up at Bowling Green after taking the 4 train back from Yankee Stadium.)
The point is, it's amazing how your internal alarm clock works.
It was like it KNEW Mariano Rivera was coming in, and it was saying, hey wake up! Your favorite all time player is coming in! Good news! Everything's gonna be alright.
Except...not this time.
Hey, we can't expect Mo to be perfect ALL the time. He's not a machine. (Which he loves to tell us whenever he blows a save.)
But it's one thing for him to give up a walkoff hit. It's an entirely different thing for him to give up a walkoff hit...by pitch.
The Rangers won for the 2nd time in a row on a walkoff. Now I know how the Twins felt last year whenever they played us. This is getting unstomachable.
It was bad enough that the game was mind-numbingly slow. I have to parrot Michael Kay here (you KNOW it's a bad day when you're uttering that statement), when he said, "People keep saying this is like a playoff preview and a postseason atmosphere, and don't get mad at me for saying this. But I certainly HOPE not. Because not for nothing but these last 2 games have been like watching paint dry."
Seriously. Amen, brother.
The rain delay didn't help the momentum any.
Including the delay, the game lasted 5 hours and 15 minutes. Which followed a 5 hour 12 minute game the night prior. So by my math, that means 10 and a half hours of excrutiatingly painful baseball.
Speaking of painful, I'd like an investigation into Jeff Francoeur's HBP.
Cough...Roger Dorn...Major League..."Come on, Roger...take one for the team"....cough
Alright. I can't go into detail in this game. It's too painful.
The Giants game is on. And they just picked off Carolina in the end zone. So maybe things are looking up?
Poor Mo. I'm so sad, I'm gonna go against everything I believe in and use an emoticon.