No, the Yankees aren’t going to win every game for the rest of the season, but I thought I’d better get myself on a plane after their 5-4 walkoff loss to the Indians and talk to them before Monday night’s series finale. The game is on ESPN, and I don’t want them embarrassing me in front of the entire country.
My sources told me the players would be having dinner at The Chophouse and Brewery, a steak place in Cleveland’s trendy Warehouse District.
So I took a cab from the airport and went straight there. I found them in a private room. They were, without exception, eating this.
I introduced myself to the group, and explained that while I didn’t want to interrupt their good time, I felt it necessary to address them, fan to team. They were very polite and invited me to join them. CC was kind enough to order me a steak after I admitted that all I’d eaten on my flight was this.
“What’s on your mind, She-Fan?” asked Jeter as he was scarfing down onion rings.
“You were safe on that bang-bang play in the sixth inning today,” I said. “I know the calls even out over the course of the season, but if the ump had gotten this one right, you’d have scored on Tex’s homer.”
“Did I hear my name?” asked Teixeira from the other end of the table. He was eating his steak with his hands, not a care in the world.
“Congratulations on your thirteen-game hitting streak,” I said. “Longest of your career, right?”
“You got it,” he said, then patted A-Rod on the back, causing him to choke momentarily on his carrot, which he had ordered without salt or butter. “Since this guy came back to us, I’m on fire.”
I met A-Rod’s eyes. He seemed a little down. “You’re not a hundred-percent, are you?” I said.
“No, She-Fan,” he said. “My lateral movement just isn’t there. My surgeon told me not to put too much pressure on myself, but I feel like I cost us the game today. I couldn’t make a play on Peralta’s hit.”
“It was Coke who gave up the leadoff walk to Crowe,” I pointed out.
With that, I moved over to where all the relievers were sitting and delivered a stern lecture about throwing strikes and challenging hitters, instead of nibbling and falling behind in counts. I think Jose Veras cursed at me in Spanish, but Mo couldn’t have been nicer. He asked me how long I’d been a Yankee fan. When I said I was coming to see them play the Nationals on June 17th, he offered me free tickets. “I already bought some on StubHub, but thanks,” I said. What a sweetheart.
I spent some time with Matsui and his translator. I told him I was very concerned about his knees and wondered if they were the cause of his weak hacks at the plate.
“I’m not ready to retire,” he said testily. “And I’m not going to the Giants in a trade.”
“Fine,” I said. “Then stop pulling off the ball. You looked awful today.”
I got up from my chair and walked to the center of the room. “Listen, I didn’t come here to criticize. I just want to say thanks for a great month of May. You guys really got it together and I’m proud of you.”
“Woohoo! We rock! We roll! We have the most fun of any ballplayers!” exclaimed Nick Swisher. He did a little dance in his seat and then high-fived Johnny Damon.
“Tomorrow’s game against the Indians marks a brand new month,” I continued. “I want you to keep up your winning ways. That means effective starting pitching.” I cast a long, piercing look at Joba, tomorrow’s starter. “It means hitting with men in scoring position.” I wagged a finger at Jorge, who struck out and hit into a double play today. “And no misplays in center field.” I shrugged at Gardner, who was still grumbling about that ball that sailed over his head for a double.
“It goes both ways, She-Fan,” said Jeter. “We need you to do something for us.”
“Name it,” I said. “Anything.”
Before I could speak, AJ came running out from the restaurant’s kitchen and slammed a banana cream pie in my face.
My trip was so worth it.