…and it would be exciting. They have a way of turning even the mundane into the dramatic. Not that today’s home opener was mundane – far from it – but there was so much emotion packed into one baseball game that my head almost exploded while I was watching on TV.
I mean, how about long-time head trainer Gene Monahan, in the midst of treatment for cancer, showing up to receive his World Series ring?
Or what about Steinbrenner putting in a rare appearance and Jeter presenting him with his ring?
And could there be a more moving moment than when the players mobbed Matsui or when the crowd gave him a huge ovation?
And, of course, I have to mention Bernieeeee throwing out the first pitch.
Sweet. And then there was the game itself. Pettitte never ceases to amaze me. Year in and year out, he’s on the mound delivering when it counts. Six scoreless innings against a very tough opponent? He took care of it, getting in and, more importantly, out of jams.
Nick Johnson smacked a homer in his first at bat, reminding us that number two hitters don’t have to be named Johnny Damon. Jeter and Posada, as they have on many an Opening Day, provided offense. Cano continued to hit the ball hard. Swisher made a tremendous running catch that ended in one of these.
In fact, for most of the game it felt as if the Yankees could do no wrong and the Angels would keep looking flustered and off balance – the exact opposite of the bad old days when the Yanks couldn’t buy a win from the Halos. But then came Chan Ho’s homer to Morales – one mistake pitch that cost him – followed by a truly lousy outing by Robertson, who hasn’t been as sharp in 2010 as he was last year. The only good thing about Abreu’s grand slam was that it created the need to bring in The God of Closers.
I suppose it was only fitting that Mo get the save, given the occasion. Oh, and the other positive aspect to the Angels’ late rally was that it made the final score:
Which made contest winners out of three lucky commenters on this blog who predicted the outcome:
Congratulations to them! A Vintage Yankee Stadium Tin filled with Cooperstown Cookies will be headed their way as soon as they send me their addresses. I hope they’ll report back after they’ve sampled their prizes. I also look forward to hearing from those who were at the game today. Watching it on TV was better than nothing (even though I was stuck with the Angels feed here in California), but being there in person must have been a day to remember.
It wasn’t as if the Yankees didn’t make it interesting. Over the 11 innings that lasted four-and-a-half hours and resulted in the Angels’ 5-4 walk-off victory, there were moments that were so excruciatingly tense that I almost couldn’t watch. And there were plenty of positives:
Jeter’s homer off Weaver in the first.
A-Rod’s homer off Weaver in the fourth.
Damon’s homer off Weaver in the fifth.
Posada’s homer off Jepson in the eighth to tie the score.
Pettitte’s ability to get out of jams with the double play ball.
Tex’s mastery at first base throughout the game.
Mo’s Houdini act in the 10th with bases loaded.
Nice work by Marte, Hughes and Robertson.
There were also some amusing moments. Like when Posada was batting in the second and the home plate ump forgot how many strikes there were.
And there was that base running blunder by Abreu after he smacked a double off Coke in the eighth – a gift.
But then there were the frustrations, the wasted opportunities, the times when I wanted to throw a sharp object at my TV:
The deadly duo of Swisher and Melky at the bottom of the order.
Joba’s ineptitude in the seventh.
Gardner caught stealing in the eighth.
Girardi pulling Robertson for Aceves in the 11th after consulting his stupid scouting book.
Sure, the Yankees had chances to score insurance runs and didn’t; they were dismal with runners in scoring position. And yes, Kendrick has historically been a tough at bat for the Yanks. But Robertson was pitching lights out. Why not leave him in to face Kendrick and Mathis? Why must every decision be based on match-ups and stats? Why not go with your gut and let the guy who’s doing a great job keep doing it? Why, Joe?
OK, I feel better now. Sometimes, it’s cleansing to get things off your chest.
The good news is I don’t have to eat that “lucky” turkey club sandwich anymore. The even better news is I’ll be at Angel Stadium tomorrow for Game 4. I will be embedded in enemy territory, sitting somewhere in this sea of red thunderstix.
Will I witness a dazzling performance by CC? Will the Yankees bounce back from today’s defeat and win? Will I run onto the field and try to say hi to Jeter?
Will I maneuver my way into Kate Hudson’s suite so A-Rod will wave to me too?
Or will I sneak into the dugout, steal a copy of Girardi’s scouting book and set it on fire?
Anything is possible.
The time for pre-game posturing is over.
The hype about how unbeatable the Angels are means nothing.
Who cares if they stole 100 bases.
Good for Abreu that he found a new home.
How special that John Lackey isn’t intimidated by New York.
So what if Kendry Morales is the Second Coming.
I prefer to focus on the Yankees and what a special, soul-stirring, we-can-do-anything season they’ve had. And so without further ado, I’m posting a video that my Yankees blogger friend Michael Fierman sent me. It got me on my feet cheering, feeling positive about the ALCS and believing that my team will find a way to win. I hope it does the same for other Yankee fans.
See you back here tomorrow. Fingers crossed that the weather clears in time for the game.
Well, that’s what Yankees beat writer Peter Abraham called it on his blog. Taking nothing away from the excellent performance by Scott Kazmir, tonight’s game at the Trop was a sloppy one by the Yankees, who fell 6-2 to the Rays and looked as if they’d been out partying last night.
Good pitching and defense? Not in evidence. CC struggled through five-plus and only intermittently had command of his pitches. Wasn’t he supposed to be a great second-half guy? He seemed pretty lost out there.
Both Jeter and A-Rod made throwing errors, and I can’t remember the last time that happened. Matsui got picked off of first base, and I can’t remember the last time that happened either. And Swisher? I’m sorry, but he’s just not the player I want in right field everyday. Sure, he comes up with the occasional brilliant catch, but most of the time he’s – how can I put this delicately – cringe worthy.
Would Eric Hinske be that much worse? Would Shelley Duncan? Would this kid?
I’m missing Bobby Abreu right now, wall phobia and all. Are you hearing me, Cashman?
I was delighted that Girardi finally allowed Mark Melancon to appear in public; it was starting to feel as if he’d contracted swine flu like Vincente Padilla and been shuttled off to an undisclosed location.
Speaking of maladies, what awful news about Wang. Shoulder surgery tomorrow? Out for the rest of this season and possibly next? Talk about a blow.
And what about Aceves, the guy we’ve been counting on in the pen and maybe in the rotation too? Now he tells the Yankees he has shoulder pain? How long has that been going on? I understand the whole spiel about athletes playing through injuries, blah blah, but did he think that keeping his “arm fatigue” quiet would make it go away? The strategy didn’t exactly work for Bruney.
OK. I’ll take a deep breath here.
Much better. It’s just that things have been going so well for the Yankees that I was hoping everybody would stay healthy and we wouldn’t have any big surprises and…
Would you listen to me? I’m acting all sky-is-falling, and it’s ridiculous. Baseball is nothing if not full of surprises. And with the trade deadline creeping up, there are bound to be more of them.
Let me state right up front that I’m not wild about the Angels. Why?
* Their manager whines a lot.
* The name “Scioscia” is too hard to spell with any consistency and leaves me puzzled.
* The team is forever associated with “small ball,” as if they invented the hit-and-run, the bunt and the stolen base. In reality, it’s just that they have some smallish players.
* Mostly, it’s because they’ve beaten the Yankees over and over, always making us look like dead people.
But not tonight. This time the Yanks were the 7-4 victors, and laughter rang out all over the Empire.
AJ was shaky out of the gate, giving up a triple to Figgy (not to be confused with the fruit) and a solo shot to Napoli (not to be confused with the city of Naples or the Italian dessert beloved by Phil Rizzuto). Then he got it together and shut down the red-shirted ones.
(There’s so much red when we play the Angels that my eyes burn.)
What I especially loved about this game was the Yankees’ offense. For the third night in a row, we kept battling back. Down 3-2 in the fourth, Jeter came up with one of his clutch, inside-out singles to right.
Bobby Abreu, whose RBIs I miss but whose immobility in right field I don’t, bobbled the ball, allowing Swisher and Pena to score and put the Yankees ahead.
But it was in the eighth when we really spanked the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Cano lined one to right that Abreu might have caught if he’d actually bent over. Posada’s ground-rule double came next, followed by Swisher’s intentional walk (good one, Soscia or Sosha or whatever it is), followed by Melky’s single.
(Poor Gardner. He’s so screwed right now.)
When Pena’s double scored Posada and Swisher, that was it for the Halos. Coke and Mo finished them off and that was that. We beat them. We pitched well and Posada nailed a couple of base runners and the hits came in bunches.
But, of course, it was the Magic Pen that was ultimately responsible for the Yankees’ latest reversal of fortune. I rewarded it after the game by showering it with diamond rings and nestling it in Yankees satin. Nothing’s too good for the Magic Pen at this point. Nothing.
With only two weeks until spring training, I took myself out for a little retail therapy. No, not for shoes and handbags. Please. I’m talking about free agents. They’re on sale! They’ve been marked down! They’re at low, low prices and they come with home delivery at no extra charge!
Not one to pass up a bargain, I marched over to the Free Agent Store and spent a few hours browsing the racks. Would I find anyone for the Yankees in my capacity as their personal shopper? Anyone who might look good in pinstripes?
I breezed past the Pitchers Department, since the Yanks are well stocked with arms for the season, and zeroed in on the Position Players.
Did I have any interest in buying Adam Dunn?
No, not really. Lots to like, but I already have enough sluggers who can’t field. Besides, I’m not sure I could embrace a player whose nickname is “Big Donkey.”
Again, I already have a second baseman so what would be the point? It would be like buying two shower curtains even though I only have one shower.
Talk about a surplus. The Yankees have two Gold Glove shortstops, even though one of them plays third base. No sense splurging on another one.
Ken Griffey Jr?
I overheard the saleslady say he’s being shipped to the Seattle store.
Not a chance. The Big Hurt nearly ran me over with his Bentley when I was in Toronto for the book. All I wanted was five minutes. Sheesh.
Damaged goods. I’m still having flashbacks of his pink eye during the ’07 ALDS. For all I know, he could bring that conjunctivitis to the Bronx with him.
I didn’t even bother looking at Manny (too expensive and hard to maintain) and I-Rod (been there, done that). I did experience a pang of regret as I lingered over Abreu. How could the Yankees not want to bring back El Comeduce, which is Spanish for “the candy eater?” I was tempted to buy him anyway and let the Yankees return him, but the Free Agent Store had a no-returns policy.
I was feeling a little down as I strolled through the aisles, wondering if there were any bargains worth getting excited about, when I came upon Ty Wigginton.
“Wiggy.” Hmm. The Yankees already have a third baseman, obviously, but what about a utility man? Would Cody Ransom be filling that need? Or was there an opening for someone else?
I leaned closer to examine the merchandise. According to Ty’s tags, he actually delivered his own baby when his wife went into labor unexpectedly. They were at home and he called 911 and the dispatcher talked him through the procedure, which he pulled off in a bedroom closet! He even tied the baby’s umbilical cord with his shoelaces! Now if that isn’t resourceful, I don’t know what is. Imagine what he could do for the Yanks in a pinch.
“I’ll take him,” I told the saleslady. “Wrap him up and deliver him to Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, 10451.”
“Would you like a gift card?” she asked.
“Oh, just scribble something on his forehead,” I said. “How about: ‘For Joe Girardi, a little insurance. Best wishes, She-Fan.'”
As has been widely reported, the Yankees didn’t offer anybody arbitration – not a single free agent. Who’s hurt and confused? This man.
He can’t figure out what he did to deserve such treatment. It was one thing for the Yanks to pass on Mussina (retiring), Giambi (deteriorating), Pudge (shrinking), Pettitte (demanding), and Pavano (hahahahaha). But Bobby?
“WHY ME?” he said when he heard the news, his wail oddly similar to that of Nancy Kerrigan’s.
Brian Cashman had this response: “We wanted to make sure we controlled the amount we’d be spending.”
What????? Did Cashman accidentally think he was the G.M. of the Pirates?
“The Yankees are engaged with Abreu,” he added, indicating that there is still a desire to bring the right fielder back for another year.
Really? That’s not what Abreu’s agent said. “We haven’t heard from them once since the end of last season. And to be honest, Bobby isn’t happy about it.”
Uh-oh. I sense a “He said/He said” here. Clearly, somebody is misremembering. Is it Bobby? Or Cashman?
All of this reminded me of the other “He said/He said” confrontations we’ve witnessed over the years. Baseball alone has had its share of them.
For example, there was this man insisting that he shot lots and lots of naughty substances
into the body of this man, who pledged that he was the one telling the truth, even though he didn’t exactly come out and dispute anything.
More recently, we had this man maintaining that he injected those same naughty substances into the gluteus maximus
of this man, who vehemently denied the allegations, except the one about his wife’s gluteus maximus.
And who could forget the testimony of this man, limo driver Alan Park.
He stated that his client told him he didn’t answer the buzzer at the house on Rockingham because he had overslept. But then the client himself
asserted that he hadn’t been napping, not even for a second. Which one were we supposed to believe?
And in still another “He said/He said” involving a celebrity and a limo driver, we had this man
telling prosecutors he heard his client mumble: “I think I killed someone.” The big-haired client, on the other hand,
accused the limo driver of lying misremembering.
Finally, in perhaps the most famous case of all, we have this man announcing: “There’s a cancer growing upon the presidency.”
To which this man replied: “I am not a crook!”
Which is my roundabout way of saying I went to a screening of the movie “Frost/Nixon,” which opens in limited release on Friday. It’s amazing. Frank Langella plays Nixon to perfection, and the story is told with wit and suspense. Go see it, even if you’re too young to remember Watergate.
Here’s the trailer.