I just finished watching MLB Network’s broadcast of the famous Game 7 of the 1960 Yankees-Pirates World Series. What fun it was, despite the fact that the Yankees lost on Bill Mazeroski’s homer and Mickey Mantle was said to shed tears in the clubhouse after the game.
The Mick cried because he thought the Yankees were the better team and should have won. Maybe so, but the Pirates were the ones that got it done and were hailed as a “team of destiny.”
Which got me wondering….are some teams destined to win, no matter how much offensive power or quality pitching they do or don’t have? Nobody predicted the Giants would win it all this year, for example, and yet they did. Were they a “team of destiny,” like the ’60 Pirates? I was a New York kid in 1960 and one of my sisters, a student at the University of Pittsburgh, was dating a Pittsburgh boy. Needless to say, he was ecstatic when his Pirates won and all I heard from him was Maz this and Maz that. We know what happened to the Pirates in recent years and it isn’t pretty. But back then, they had a magical season. As we move through this winter and continue to debate trades and free agent signings and which team looks the best on paper, it occurred to me that we don’t know anything about the 2011 season. We really don’t. Lurking out there among all the teams in all the divisions is a team of destiny – a team that will overcome injuries, stage thrilling comebacks, beat the odds. Which team will it be?
Who knows. That’s why we watch the games.
BREAKING NEWS: It looks like after a day of media reports that the two sides were far apart in their contract negotiations, Brian Cashman and Derek Jeter have met and decided to make a deal. I’m very relieved, to say the least.
It was weird at first. I turned on the game because some baseball is better than no baseball. Well, and because I’ve jumped on the Giants’ bandwagon for this series, as I’ve said. But there were reminders of the Yankees everywhere, and I found myself grief-stricken all over again.
* Seeing Dave “Rags” Righetti made me remember his no-hitter. Why can’t he be our new pitching coach?
* Seeing Roberto Kelly made me remember when he was traded for Paul O’Neill. Why wasn’t I watching Paulie on the YES Network instead of Joe Buck on Fox?
* Seeing Tony Bennett sing “God Bless America” reminded me of Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York.” Why wasn’t this game at the Stadium instead of AT&T Park?
* Seeing Cliff Lee walk a guy, hit a guy and give up seven runs made me wonder if Brian Cashman will offer him less money now. Maybe we can get a discount for damaged goods?
* Seeing Vlad Guerrero fumble around in right field gave me fond memories of Marcus Thames. Will the Yankees bring Thames back?
* Seeing Tim Lincecum settle down after a tricky first few innings made me think of how CC does that. Did the big man’s bum knee affect his postseason performance?
* Seeing Josh Hamilton made me wonder why the media insists on comparing him to Mickey Mantle. Doesn’t it take a few years to become a legend?
* Seeing Elvis Andrus made me think of how Derek Jeter was his idol growing up. Will the Yankees and Jeter come to terms on a new contract quickly or will it be more complicated?
I could go on, but how about the game itself? Raise your hand if you predicted that the team that manhandled us would get manhandled. Baseball is a cool sport, even when your guys aren’t playing it.
I knew tonight would present a conflict.
I was scheduled to be on a writers panel at Borders here in the Santa Barbara area, but I didn’t have to arrive until 7 pm. Since the game started at 4 pm PT, I figured I’d see most of it before I left the house. (I couldn’t very well cancel my appearance; authors never pass up an opportunity to plug their books.) But I was a little panicky prying myself away from the TV with the score at 5-3 and Hughes coming out for Vazquez.
I listened on my phone in the car on the way to the store. Still 5-3.
I continued to listen even after I walked in, was introduced to my fellow panelists, sat down and waited for the Borders events coordinator to clear his throat and begin the program. Phone tucked away in my purse, I spent the next 90 minutes answering questions about the She-Fan book and this blog, as well as focusing on the work of the other writers. And then, when there were no further questions and we were done, an audience member approached me.
“The Yankees won 8-3,” he said with a big smile.
I was taken aback at first. I mean you don’t expect to meet a lot of Yankee fans in California. For example, the panelist who sat next to me was a sportswriter who rooted for the Dodgers, and the panelist next to him was a newspaper editor who rooted for the Giants, and the events coordinator from Borders was an Angels guy.
“Thanks for telling me,” I said. “So you’re a fan too?”
He was a fan all right. He told me that his house had burned down in the last wildfire and that the possession he was most saddened to lose was the signed copy of the autobiography of Mickey Mantle, his childhood hero. Now that’s bleeding pinstripes.
I had a good time at Borders, but I had an even better time when I got home and watched the rest of the game. Yaaaay, us! I was afraid the Rays would keep chipping their way back, especially with so many of our relievers unavailable. But Cano’s shot past Crawford was huge and Joba held on, and my night had a very happy ending after all.
After the game I watched the profile of CC on HBO’s “Real Sports.”
What a lovable guy. When he teared up about his father, I teared up too. Of course, I had to laugh when I saw the size of his house at the end of the piece. It’s….large.
Oh, one more thing. Here’s a pic of The Boss’ newly unveiled monument. It was sent to me by Friend of the Blog John (aka ooaooa) and taken by his daughter, who was at tonight’s game. Thanks, John.
Now that the worst kept secret is out — that Curtis Granderson will be the Yankees’ starting center fielder, not Brett Gardner — I began to ponder his possible greatness. I always loved watching him play when he was with the Tigers and coveted him for the Yanks. Yes, I was concerned about his ability to hit lefties, but he’s come around recently and his work with Kevin Long may just be paying off. So the question is…will he become the next beloved Yankees center fielder, following in the tradition of these guys?
Tough acts to follow, no doubt about it, but Grandy seems like such a team player, doing whatever’s been asked of him and showing an eagerness to perform at a high level. I just have a sense that he’s going to be a fan favorite for a long time, which, of course, means he’ll be the subject of one of YES’s Yankeeographies. In the meantime, there’s this.
I hope he gets off to a great start on Sunday night at Fenway by lining one into the right field seats, plus making a leaping catch in center. But no pressure, Curtis! Honest!
As of this writing, the Yankees plan to announce their decision tomorrow (Thursday) – probably while I’m still asleep here in California. I’m sticking with my earlier prediction that their pick will be Huuuughes, but the point of this blog post is: I don’t care anymore! Just do it, Yankees, and get it over with!
The #5 starter drama has had about as much suspense as whether Granderson or Gardner will open the season in center field. I’m not saying I don’t care care. Of course I do. The Yankees are my team, and I want what’s best for them. I’m just expressing the fact that I’m not losing sleep over it, because it doesn’t rise to the level of sleeplessness.
When I was a kid, there were contest results worth staying up for. As silly as it sounds now, I used to love to watch the Miss America Pageant and try to guess who’d win.
And presidential elections had tons of drama.
When it came to baseball, I, like the rest of the country, was riveted by whether Mantle or Maris would break Babe Ruth’s home run record.
But Hughes versus Joba (or Aceves or Mitre)? Phffffff. Of more interest to me was that Javier Vazquez pitched six strong innings tonight…that Mo looked great in relief…that A-Rod was in an offensive groove and that Tex, Cano and Granderson made nifty plays in the field (Cervelli too). For the first time since spring training started, I had the feeling I was watching a team that’s ready to begin the season. I know I’m ready.
Only they’re not these guys.
And they’re actually the T&R Boys.
But you get the idea. As in the Mantle and Maris era, Tex and A-Rod are a 3-4 duo that’s producing clutch hits in huge situations. That was certainly the case in tonight’s 4-3 victory over the Twins in 11 innings. Oh, what a game. It was such an emotional ride that I was sure I’d end up in a hospital bed suffering from sheer exhaustion.
Where to begin? The game was like a thriller with three distinctly different acts.
Act 1: The No-Hitter
For the first four-plus innings, the Yankees couldn’t get a hit off Nick Blackburn. Nothing. I kept saying to my husband, “They picked one horrible time to have their bats go cold.”
AJ was holding his own, throwing scoreless inning after scoreless inning, although he walked five and battled his tendency to be a wild man.
After the Twins scored a run in the top of the sixth, the Yankees came back with a run in the bottom of the inning when Jeter doubled and A-Rod knocked him in with a single. Suddenly, it was 1-1 – a whole new ball game.
Act 2: The Relievers
Joba and Coke took care of the Twins in the seventh. But in the eighth, Hughes wasn’t as dominant as he’s been and Mo didn’t pick him up.
With the Twins ahead 3-1, Mo came back out for a relatively easy ninth, thanks to Swisher’s great catch of Young’s fly ball. In the bottom of the ninth, I was crouched on the floor and muttering to myself, “Somebody do something so we won’t lose this thing! Please!”
That’s when the T&R Boys came to my rescue. Tex led off with a single and A-Rod hit a bomb to tie the score at 3-3 – another whole new ball game.
Act 3: Extra Innings
When Joe Nathan took the mound for the bottom of the 10th, I figured we were cooked. But Posada (no, he wasn’t off sulking in the clubhouse) singled. Gardner pinch ran for him, stole second and went to third on Nathan’s throwing error. Did he score the winning run? Nooo. He got doubled up on Damon’s liner. I was so frustrated I started yelling at my husband for no good reason.
Marte took the ball in the top of the 11th and gave up singles to the two batters he faced. (Nice one, Damaso.) With only two guys left in the pen (I think), Girardi sent Robertson out to pitch. After allowing a leadoff single to load the bases, he managed to retire Young, Gomez and Harris and end the threat. My heart was pounding.
As Tex stepped in to lead off the bottom of the 11th, I said on Twitter, “Please, Tex, put me out of my misery.” What happened? This.
And then this.
The Yankees won in walk-off style yet again, and I made up with my husband.
What a game.
The Twins are formidable with their M&M Boys.
Whenever the Yankees play them and they hit bomb after bomb no matter who’s pitching, I can’t help but be reminded of these two.
But the Yanks are hot right now and no amount of Morneau/Mauer firepower is enough. Coming off last night’s stunning walkoff win, today’s 6-4 walkoff in the 11th was equally satisfying. I’m still jazzed, and it’s hours after the final pitch.
Highlights for me…
– Joba’s new pre-game warmup seemed to do the trick, and he made it through the first inning without damage this time. He went six, gave up two runs and struck out six. He’s looking sharper with each outing. Yeeehaaaaaaaah!
– Tex came out of the gate like a man on a mission, going 4-for-4 with a walk. Was there really any doubt that he would thrive in pinstripes?
– Veras and Edwar, the twin devils, walked their leadoff batters and made me nuts as usual, but Aceves was lights out. And Mo was Mo, which was the same as this.
– A-Rod, who had looked off-balance all day, popped one into the seats for his first hit at the new stadium and his first walkoff of the year.
Yes, I know there are Yankee fans who will boo him even when he does hit in the clutch. Not me. He admitted he took steroids. If it’s proven that he’s guilty of other baseball crimes, I’ll cross that proverbial bridge when I come it. In the meantime, I was ecstatic when he brought the game home for my team.
Take a look/listen. Sorry for the quality of the video, but this is what I get for shooting the action off my MacBook Pro. Just pretend you have Vasoline in your eyes and it’ll look normal.
For today’s post I decided to dip into some of the emails I’ve gotten recently from readers of my book. They’re all ages and from all parts of the country, and the excerpts are in their own words. See if you can relate to any of them.
From R: “My husband is a White Sox fan whose self-esteem is based entirely on whether his team wins or loses. When they lose, he gets so depressed that it scares me. I’m afraid he’ll do something crazy.”
I wrote back that while I do take it hard when the Yankees lose, I don’t take it that hard and that she should consider seeking professional help and/or medication for her husband.
From K: “I, too, have my rituals and superstitions. I blamed my husband for the loss of the Yankees’ 2004 season. It was his fault because he brought home the wrong kind of seltzer.”
I wrote back that I understood perfectly, having blamed myself for the Yankees 2001 loss to the Diamondbacks. It was my fault because I invited friends over for dinner instead of watching the game obsessively and without interruption.
From F: “My Mom grew up in Kansas City and passed on her passion for the Royals to me. But I grew up in New York and became a Yankee fan. I now live in Indiana, and because of the lack of coverage for either team and because I want to annoy all the incredibly annoying Cubs fans around me, I’m a Cardinals fan. So I’m a three-team girl.”
I wrote back that I can hardly cope with rooting for one team, but that having three teams to root for would definitely increase the odds of winning a game.
From W: “I’m a Yankee fan now living in Oklahoma. We migrate south for ‘Holy Week’ every year – the week the Yankees are in Arlington to play the Rangers. On Opening Day, dinner at our house is hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack, and it’s every bit as symbolic as turkey on Thanksgiving.”
I wrote back that ballpark food is fun, but that nothing beats turkey and stuffing (with gravy). If that makes me a bad fan, so be it.
From I: “I was in my Public Relations class today and our professor was handing back quizzes. She handed one to a girl wearing a Cubs hat and said, ‘Here’s a tip. Don’t wear a Cubs hat to class. You’ll fail automatically.’ I looked down at my Yankee sweatshirt and thought, Oh, great. I wonder what she’ll say to me. When she called out my name, I stood up in my Yankee attire and waited for her to say I’d fail. Instead, she said, “See, now THIS is what you need to wear to class if you want to get an automatic A.’ She even added, ‘If there’s ever a morning Yankee game, class will be cancelled.’ I didn’t really like her before today.”
I wrote back that I never had a teacher who talked about baseball, much less had a favorite team.
From D: “My local paper just ran a story about a young man who was drafted by the Yankees after he graduated from college, but he turned down the offer to go into the ministry.”
(No, she wasn’t talking about A-Rod. I just couldn’t help myself.) I wrote back that I hoped the young man was thriving in the ministry and that the Yankees’ farm system could manage with one less farmhand.
But wait. Could the farm system manage with one less farmhand? Sure, we had Ajax, Jesus, Miranda, Melancon, Brackman, Hughes and many other prospects. But what if this young man – the kid D had written to me about – was The Natural? What if he had the potential to be the next Ruth/Gehrig/DiMaggio/Mantle/Mattingly/Jeter? What if the greatest Yankee ever to put on the pinstripes was praying in church instead of playing in Triple A?
I couldn’t take any chances. I hopped on a plane and went in search of him. I’ll let you know if find him.
We’ve all heard the stories about “The Boss” – from his hirings and firings to his run-ins with Major League Baseball. But now, thanks to Peter Golenbock, we’re about to get The Whole Story.
Peter has written numerous New York Times bestsellers, including “The Bronx Zoo” with Sparky Lyle…
“Idiot” with Johnny Damon…
“7: The Mickey Mantle Novel”…
Who better to delve into the outsized, improbable life of George Steinbrenner?
Recently, Peter gave me a sneak peek at the book, which comes out on May 4th. It’s compulsively readable – chocked full of eye-popping, never-before-told anecdotes that are sure to make headlines. Unfortunately, he swore me to secrecy.
What I can tell you is that the book is a fascinating, thoroughly researched account of a complex man, and features interviews with a huge cast of memorable characters (including Steinbrenner). It’s all here – from George’s childhood to his suspensions from baseball, his stormy relationships with players and managers, and so much more.
There’s plenty to satisfy Yankee fans and Yankee haters as Steinbrenner comes across as both a bully and an icon. Put this book on your wish list. You won’t be disappointed.
In the meantime, here are a few memorable “George Moments.”