Today Martin was officially introduced to the New York media. Therefore, it’s only fitting that I give him a rousing She-Fan welcome.
As someone who lives in SoCal, I have to say I’m excited about his signing, having several Dodger fan friends who’ve raved to me about him. While it’s true that he had a miserable couple of years, he was an All-Star – a guy the fans loved for both his hitting and his catching abilities. So I have to think he’ll have a bounce back season with the Yanks. To celebrate his signing, here are the many faces of Russell Martin, New Yankee.
#1) The Feisty, I-Don’t-Mind-Starting-A-Fight Russell Martin
#2) The French-speaking, I-love-talking-to-fans Russell Martin
#3) The laughing, I-joke-around-in-the-dugout-unlike-Posada Russell Martin
#4) The power-hitting, walk-offs-are-my-specialty Russell Martin
I think I could really get to like this guy.
On the other hand, I do not want us to sign either Freddy Garcia or Brian Fuentes. So please, Cashman. Just stop it. Now. I’m serious.
The third and final game in the Yankees’ series against the Dodgers was one of the most exciting contests of the season, in my opinion. Gone was the nonstop chatter about Torre leaving New York and A-Rod not talking to him and blah-blah-blah past history. Well, ESPN couldn’t resist bringing up “the soap opera,” as they called it, but once the game turned into a nail-biter, it was all baseball. After stinking up the early innings – how many bunts could Pettitte not handle? – the offense and relief pitching got serious. Robertson and Marte did their jobs (Joba, not so much) so that A-Rod could pop one into the seats and put the Yanks on the board. We were down 6-3 in the ninth when Torre brought in Broxton.
Yeah, he’s large, but he’s not Mo. A parade of hits greeted him, including a huge at bat by Chad Huffman. I know, I wasn’t thrilled to have Huffman up in that situation either. He’s just a kid we got off San Diego’s scrap heap.
But he came through big time to pull us to 6-5. Clap Clap Clap, Chad. I take back what I said about you on Twitter.
My boy Colin Curtis was up next, and his ground out after about 1,000 pitches (I exaggerate, but he really worked that at bat, didn’t he?) sent Granderson scurrying home (thank you, Loney, for not making the play at home). Wow. All tied up. My stomach was in one big knot.
Why was I so nervous? I mean, Mo was on the hill. What drama could possibly take place? Especially when the normally placid Garret Anderson was batting.
Oh. G.A. didn’t like Chris Guccione’s strike zone and got tossed. Torre came out to have his say, and he and the Guccione went at it – for like ever. Was Joe really that upset or was it a bit of gamesmanship to disrupt Mo’s rhythm? No matter. Mo took care of business. On to the 10th and George Sherrill.
Maybe his beard distracted him, or maybe Robinson Cano is just that good. All I know is that Cano’s homer put the Yanks up 8-6, capping an improbable six-run rally. Mo was a hammer again in the 10th – and again the Dodger hitters weren’t happy. This time Russell Martin slammed down his bat in anger, nearly hitting Posada with it, and there was more arguing with Guccione.
I’ve watched Mo fan batters over the years. I get the frustration. But the Yankees won fair and square to finish off a very entertaining series. Bravo.
The afternoon started so innocently, so tranquilly. It was a beautiful, unseasonably warm day in Santa Barbara – sunny skies and 80-degree temps. (Sorry to those in cold climates, but this is why I moved here.)
I was taking my five-mile walk along Shoreline Park. The idea was to get a little exercise, a little fresh air, a little relief from working at the computer.
I was wearing my Yankees cap as usual – the one with the rhinestones.
And I was listening to my iPod.
“Poker Face” is not a memorable song, but it starts the adrenaline pumping.
I was proceeding at a nice clip, feeling pretty good about life, when I came upon them.
O.K., so they weren’t carrying weapons. They looked scary just the same. And they blocked my path so I couldn’t simply power-walk past them.
“Hey, what’s with the Yankees hat,” said the biggest one. It was not a question.
“I’m a Yankee fan,” I said, restraining myself from adding, “You have a problem with that?” I’m not stupid. I was outnumbered, plus they were huge and I only weigh 100 pounds.
“Yankees suck,” said another guy.
“Yeah, they suck,” said the first one, getting in my face for emphasis.
At first, I figured they must be Red Sox fans, since we hear the chant from them all the time. But these guys didn’t bring up ’04 – the usual refrain – so I was confused.
“Fine,” I said, determined not to be intimidated. “Which team doesn’t suck?”
“Dodgers,” the leader said. “We’re Dodgers fans. Like you’re supposed to be.”
I squelched a laugh. “Why am I supposed to be?”
“Because you live here. You’re supposed to root for the home team.”
“I grew up in New York,” I said. “The Yankees are my home team.”
“But they suck,” said a third guy. None of them had much of a vocabulary.
“Maybe you’ve forgotten, but the Yankees have won quite a few championships. Twenty-six, to be exact.”
“So? The Dodgers won the NL West last year.”
“Right.” This was silly. “Who’s your favorite player?” In the spirit of the upcoming Inauguration, I reached across the aisle and tried to be friendly.
“Manny,” said the leader.
Did I dare break the news that Manny was no longer a Dodger – at least not presently?
“He’s a free agent,” I said. “He could wind up with the Giants for all you know.”
“I like Nomar,” said another one.
These weren’t Dodgers fans. They were clueless Dodgers fans.
“He’s on the verge of announcing his retirement,” I said. “The Dodgers haven’t re-signed him.”
“Russell Martin’s on the team,” said the leader.
“He’s a good catcher,” I acknowledged.
“He’s a good catcher,” one of them mocked me in a high sing-song voice. “Too bad the Yankees suck.”
That was one “suck” too many. I lost my patience and let them all have it.
“Who sucks now?” I shouted after the last one was splayed on the ground, on top of the others, bloodied and gasping for air. “Get. Off. My. Beach.”
(Yes, the ending is total fantasy. The real ending is that I neutralized them by boring them to death with great moments in Yankees history. Eventually, they moved on to harass somebody else and I continued my walk.)
It happens all the time when it comes to romance. Love is found, love is lost and somebody ends up with a broken heart.
Is that the case with Andy Pettitte? Is his passionate affair with the Yankees over forever? Are they just not that into him anymore? He’s hurt and confused, and who can blame him?
Sure, he’s trying to explore new love with the Dodgers, but it’s an act, trust me. Right now he’s sitting in a BarcaLounger in the den of his ranch and he’s asking, “Why, y’all? How did it go wrong? Things used to be so good with us.”
And they were. Never mind the relationship with Clemens. There were other bonds.
He and Wang were tight, breaking through the language barrier with a language of their own.
He and Jeter needed no words either, whether in times of laughter or tears.
And then there was all the hugging with Jorge
and the cuddling with A-Rod.
Andy’s wife Laura tried to corral her husband’s attention, even showing up in leopard-print outfits on occasion.
But how do you compete with the blissful moments Andy shared with his pinstriped teammates? I mean, he not only played baseball with them. He played dress up with them.
“Why?” he cries out into the dead of the Texas night. “I was fixin’ to take your darn pay cut, but you haven’t called. Not a ‘Hello.’ Not a ‘We miss you.’ Nothin’.”
And so Andy Pettitte, the pitcher scorned, has reached out to Joe Torre for comfort. If the Yankees don’t re-sign the lefty, perhaps he’ll make a fresh start in Los Angeles. A new town. New faces. It could work.
But it will take an attachment to
and there are no guarantees that they’ll fill the void. After all, first love is the hardest to get over.
Just ask Bernie.
He’s still waiting for this to happen.