Last night I announced the 2009 She-Fan Award for Best Postseason Enemy – the opposing player who best helped the Yankees win the ALDS, ALCS or World Series. Congratulations again to Brad Lidge.
Tonight’s award goes to the opposing player who contributed mightily to this year’s most exciting phenomenon: the walk-off victory. The Yankees had 15 walk-offs during the regular season, some more significant than others but all a great source of pleasure for Yankee fans – and for A.J. Burnett.
And the nominees for Best Regular Season Walk-Off Enemy are…
– Brian Fuentes, Los Angeles Angels
Yes, Fuentes was one of last night’s nominees, but he merits another look in this category. On May 1st, he allowed a bases-loaded walk-off single by Posada in the ninth, and the Yanks beat the Angels 10-9 after having been down by five runs in the game. A big win against a big rival.
– Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins
Another return nominee, Nathan was on the mound on May 15th, which, by the way, marked A-Rod’s debut at the new Stadium as well as the game in which Brett Gardner had an inside-the-park home run. In the ninth, Gardner tripled off Nathan, Tex singled, A-Rod walked, Cano was walked intentionally, and – with the bases loaded – Melky blooped a two-out single to win the game 5-4. The Yanks went on to sweep the Twins with three consecutive walk-offs.
– Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies
Yet another return nominee, Lidge pitched the ninth on May 23rd. The Yanks were down by two runs, but the Phillies closer walked Damon, gave up a game-tying homer to A-Rod, allowed a single to Cano, who stole second, and served up a walk-off single to Melky. A foreshadowing of things to come.
– Luis Castillo, New York Mets
We all know what happened on June 12th, but here’s the recap. The Yanks were down by a run in the ninth when K-Rod came in to close it out for the Mets. Jeter singled, stole second and K-Rod intentionally walked Tex to pitch to a struggling A-Rod, who popped up to Castillo for the third out. Inexplicably, L-Cas dropped the ball, and Tex and A-Rod scored the winning runs. The best part was watching K-Rod celebrate – prematurely.
– Shawn Camp, Toronto Blue Jays
July 4th was George Steinbrenner’s birthday and the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech. So it was only fitting that Roy Halladay did not get the win on this day. Instead, he left the game in a funk after Damon’s two-run shot tied the score in the seventh. It wasn’t until the 12th that Posada singled in the winning run off Camp, who is a double She-Fan Award nominee for the walk-off single he gave up to Cano on August 12th.
– Junichi Tazawa, Boston Red Sox
Who can forget the August 7th game that lasted 15 innings and five-and-a-half hours? It was Burnett against Beckett, two former Marlins, and the score was 0-0 when A-Rod stepped in against the rookie Red Sox pitcher and belted one into the seats with Jeter aboard for a 2-0 walk-off. The win expanded the Yankees’ lead in the AL East to four-and-a-half games.
– Kyle Farnsworth, Kansas City Royals
No, the game on September 29th against the Royals hardly mattered in terms of the pennant race. But seeing old friend Farnsy was a treat nonetheless. With the September call-ups in the lineup, Cervelli got the Yankees’ ninth-inning rally going with a ground ball that deflected off Farnsworth for a single. Cisco moved to third on Hinske’s single and scored on Cano’s sac fly. Up to the plate stepped another call-up, Juan Miranda, whose grounder off Farnsy’s leg scored Hinske. The Yanks won 4-3 and all was right with the world.
The envelope please.
And the 2009 She-Fan Award for Best Regular Season Walk-off Enemy goes to…
***** Junichi Tazawa *****
The sentimental favorite would have been Castillo, of course. But an interleague series against the hapless Mets that didn’t really count for a lot except in entertainment value? Conversely, the 15-inning game against the Red Sox was huge. They had beaten us eight straight times coming into the series, and first place in the division was on the line. Once A-Rod hit that shot off of Tazawa, they had to settle for a Wild Card berth. Congratulations to Mr. Tazawa. Oh, wait. Mr. Tazawa is out of the country and can’t be here to accept his award. Accepting it for him is his teammate.
“Oh, wow,” said Mr. Papelbon. “The She-Fan Award is really heavy.”
“That’s because it’s solid gold,” I said. “Maybe you’ll win one next year.”
And what a fool I was. I thought there would be a carryover from the Walkoff Popup Game, and the Yankees would be so grateful for Friday night’s win that they’d come out smoking. Wrong. They came out like dead people.
Here, for example, is a photo of Andy Pettitte after he lumbered off the mound in the fifth inning, his mediocre performance over.
Seriously, is it too much to ask that a Yankees starter not named CC Sabathia give us a quality outing? Is it?
And how about Aceves? Is anyone else over him? I mean, he served up a homer to the 100-year-old Sheffield.
Now that I’m in New York for the week, I suppose I should I present myself at the Stadium on Sunday morning and demand that I take the ball against Santana. I can’t throw 95 mph, but even I’m better than what’s currently on the roster, aren’t I?
I don’t know what to say about the offense. Yeah, A-Rod hit one out (barely), and Jeter knocked in another run in the seventh after Melky and Gardner singled. But please. They all looked like they were dying to get the game over with so they could go do this.
I had a hunch the Yanks were in trouble when it was announced that they’d be facing a guy who hadn’t appeared in the majors in three years. A no-name pitcher always spells disaster for the boys in pinstripes, as if they couldn’t possibly review videotape or get a scouting report.
But whatever. They lost to the Mets 6-2 and seemed as dreary and gray as the weather.
Still, there were moments of levity, thanks to the broadcasters.
We got to hear Joe Buck say: “It’s a wet day but a pleasant day.”
We got to hear Buck explain that the Mets are the first team with three Fernandos in the lineup.
And we got to hear Tim McCarver sing from his new CD.
Thank you for dropping A-Rod’s routine pop-up in the bottom of the ninth, with the Yankees’ chances for a comeback looking completely grim. Everyone thought tonight’s game was over, but you changed it all with your inexplicable screw-up. I will always love you, man. You’re beautiful.
Who would have imagined it: a walkoff pop-up? And yet it happened, and the Yanks edged the Mets 9-8. Was it the ineptitude of the Mets’ second basemen or a little good karma after the lost weekend at Fenway?
I don’t care. We won a game we had no business winning, and I’m glad. Hahahahaha.
But despite the hugging and celebrating on the field, the fact is the Yankees have major pitching problems.
Joba. Seriously. What were you thinking shaking off Posada like you’re a three-time Cy Young Award winner? Get over yourself and listen to your Hall of Fame catcher.
Bombko. I knew you’d show your true colors one of these days. There’s a reason you’ve been on every team in the majors, and your ineffectiveness tonight proved why. You gave up four runs in the fifth. Not what we needed, guy.
Mo. No, you’re not a problem, but you need help. You’re being forced to be your own eighth-inning set-up guy, and it’s just not going to work unless you clone yourself.
(Mo, the eighth inning set-up guy)
(Mo, the ninth inning closer)
On the positive side, nice job by Robertson in relief….More firepower from Tex….Clutch hitting by the Captain…Pretty solo shot by Cano…Happy Birthday homer by Matsui.
On the negative side, how bad is Gardner’s arm in center? Should we be worried about this? And what’s up with Swisher lately? Is he putting together a Bloopers reel?
But oh well. The Yanks won, and I’ll go to sleep happy for the first time in days.