The Good News was the return of Andy. If I could have hugged him, I would have.
He not only pitched well but went six innings. Now there are no more “What’ll we do without Pettitte” thoughts setting off panic in my brain. The Bad News was the Yankees’ inability to score with men on base – not with a man on third and nobody out, not with bases loaded, not with an opposing pitcher who had a tendency to walk batters. What happened to the sac fly? Is it not in this team’s arsenal? If I sound grumpy it’s because I was seriously frustrated by this game.
Then more Bad News: a blown save by Mo. Cue the people who will start saying, “He’s not the same. He’s done. He should retire.” Please. I don’t want to hear it. As a matter of fact, I’m mad at Mike Mussina right now. Yeah, Mussina. I finally caved in and bought the paperback of Joe Torre/Tom Verducci’s “The Yankee Years” for my flight home from the east coast. I was reading it last night when I came upon Moose’s quotes after the ’04 loss to the Red Sox in the ALCS. Here’s what he had to say about Mo:
“We were up 3-0 and Mo came in again with the lead and lost it. He lost it again. As great as he is, and it’s amazing what he does, if you start the evaluation again since I got here, he has accomplished nothing in comparison to what he accomplished the four years before. He blew the World Series in ’01. He lost the Boston series….I know you look at everything he’s done and it’s been awesome, I’ll admit that. But it hasn’t been the same.”
Excuse me? Mo has accomplished nothing? He lost the Boston series – like all by himself? I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same way about Mike Mussina again. Even if he had those thoughts, how could he make them public and trash his teammate – the same teammate who’s been picking up starting pitchers for years? I don’t get it.
Sorry for the digression. Anyhow, the Yankees lost today, but the Good News is they won the series and, with loses by Tampa and Minny, don’t give up ground.
Speaking of Joe Torre, I read that he and Mattingly are coming to the Stadium Monday night for the unveiling of Steinbrenner’s monument in Monument Park. I know Donnie will get a huge ovation and I hope Torre will too. He deserves it. I’m having trouble with what he says in his book about his players, but there’s no getting around the championship years and his relationships with the Core Four. It’s Good News that the big chill appears to be over between him and the organization.
And finally, I went to see “The Town” today, the new movie directed by and starring Red Sox super-fan Ben Affleck. (Yes, there’s stuff at Fenway.) I absolutely loved it. This is a heist film that goes beyond the car chases and shoot ’em ups. It’s great entertainment and I highly recommend it. Here’s the trailer.
Apparently, MLB wasn’t wild about letting Affleck shoot his scenes at Fenway, given the R-rated material. But here’s what the New York Times said on the subject:
For the finale, the production spent 11 days in and around Fenway Park, but only after Major League Baseball was cajoled into putting aside its usual reluctance to cooperate with a film that is rated R, this time for violence, language, sexuality and drug use.
Good for MLB and Good News for movie lovers. Go see this one.
Today’s Yankees-Tigers contest was a classic match-up between Verlander, who was nearly unhittable through six innings and looked beautiful doing it….
…and CC, who threw seven shutout innings but looked, well, beastly.
Aside from Jeter’s two hits, the Yankees offense was nonexistent – until the seventh. I admit I was about to tip my cap to Verlander and write this one off. But then along came A-Rod with a Yankee Stadium Special.
It was hardly a moonshot like Tex’s homer last night, but good enough to make it into the seats and give the Yanks a 1-0 lead.
Beauty (aka Verlander) pouted.
He should have re-focused, because Cano singled, Swisher doubled, and Melky beat out an infield hit, scoring Cano, to make it 2-0.
In the eighth, Aceves replaced CC, who really gutted it out today (no pun intended). Ace was pitching to Cabrera when the umpire called a ball on him for going to his mouth without stepping off the mound.
He protested that he was really just wiping sweat off his cheek.
Yeah, right, Alfredo. Good one!
He got Cabrera out, but served one up to Thames before retiring Ordonez on a called third strike. Which reminds me: what happened to Magglio’s hair? He went from this…
I thought only Yankees had to join the Clean Cut Club.
Mo pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, thanks to great defense by Jeter. He notched save #507, and the Yanks took their second straight 2-1.
Tomorrow is Old Timers Day at the Stadium. I wish I could be there to see Mike Mussina back in pinstripes, but for now I’ll just feast my eyes on this and say, “Thanks for the memories, Moose.” Oh, and if you’re not busy, how about starting on Tuesday?
Word is that Mike Mussina will make his decision any day about whether to retire or return to the Yankees (assuming his free agent filing is just a formality). So what will he do? Sign up for another season or three in the Bronx or kick back in his quaint hometown of Montoursville, PA? Such a cliffhanger, isn’t it?
Let’s look at the decision from his perspective.
He could choose the grind of those long, long seasons on the road and the chance to win 300 games, insuring his HOF entry. OR he could choose to stay home. What would he actually do in Montoursville, population 5,000?
He could become a Montoursville counsel member and attend monthly meetings here.
Or he could go trout fishing here on Loyalsock Creek. Very “Andy Griffith Show,” isn’t it?
He could take his kids to Fun Land for some hay rides and miniature golf.
He could shoot hoops with fellow Montoursville celebrity Kelly Mazzante. (I know nothing about the WNBA, but supposedly she’s a star with the Phoenix Mercury.)
He could do a lot of shopping, because Montoursville has one of these.
If it’s his wife’s birthday, he could run over to the local florist, whose name is the improbable Wally Wentz, according to the chamber of commerce.
He could fly a little Cessna around, thanks to the local facility minutes from his house.
He could get in touch with his feminine side and stop by Our Gathering Place, where they carry over 4,000 bolts of fabric and make these.
And if he’s hungry? No problem. There’s the local family favorite.
They serve this and don’t ask me what it is. (It could be a deer burger. Seriously.)
Or he could mosey over to Montoursville’s own Family Wok Restaurant for some Chinese.
I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of all the excitement Montoursville has to offer, but I know what I would do if I were in Moose’s spikes.
I know, I know. There’s no crying in baseball. But when Mussina walked off the mound tonight after giving the Yankees six-plus superior innings – when the crowd cheered “Moooose!” and the usually circumspect Mike not only tipped his cap but actually grinned – I teared up. I did. Because in beating the White Sox and winning his 18th game of the season, Mussina showed me what the concept of not throwing in the towel really means. This is a pitcher who was awful last year. Done. Cooked. Stick a fork in him and banish him to the bullpen. Do you remember how bad he was? Against the Angels? Against the Tigers? How he couldn’t get anybody out? If not….
That was from August of last year. Did you hear him say, “I don’t feel like I can do much of anything right?” He was lost and we all figured he’d retire or just go away. Instead, he came back this season and made adjustments, and now look at him. He’s our ace. He’s been our most consistent pitcher by far. He has a shot at winning 20 games for the first time in his career.
So with all due respect to Abreu’s 6 RBIs, Cano’s resurrection and the major league debuts of Baby Bombers Miranda, Sanchez and Cervelli, this was Mussina’s night. After facing extinction, he came back and made us proud.