Getting into the postseason is no small feat, and, like the Yankees, I decided not to let the occasion go by with merely a “Yay.” After watching the players douse each other in the visitors clubhouse at the Rogers Centre (I don’t get the post-game show here, so I had to wait for the party clips on the YES web site), Michael covered the shower wall with plastic so it would look “authentic” (a Hefty garbage bag like last year), escorted me inside, dumped champagne on my head and handed me the rest of the bottle. It wasn’t the good stuff and tasted like stale beer, but the sentiment was there even if I did end up looking like Alice Cooper. Woohoo, Yankeeeeeeees!
CC was The Man. He gave the team innings. He gave them effectiveness. He gave them the confidence to score runs. (Loved all the sac flies.) He gave them a true ace. And Mo. Well. Of course he wrapped it up. I know the division title is still up for grabs, but just knowing for sure that we’ll be watching October baseball is a thrill that never gets old. I thought back to 2007 when I was following the Yanks around the country for the She-Fan book. We were in Tampa, at the Trop, when they clinched their Wild Card berth and the Post’s Charles Wenzelberg promised he’d bring me back a champagne cork from the party. True to his word, he brought me the cork when we were in Cleveland for the ALDS. I still have it.
I keep it with my jewelry. To me, having a memento from a Yankees celebration is more valuable than diamonds or pearls.
Never mind what I wrote in my last entry about A-Rod being such a prize. He not only got picked off at first with Jeter on second, but he was 0-for-10 against the Mariners in this series. If I had an A-Rod bobble head doll, I’d knock its bobbling head off.
I’m mad at everybody right now. Cano came up twice with two runners on base and one out, and he struck out both times. Totally lame. And how about Girardi’s decision to bring in Veras? Did it somehow escape our manager that Veras has morphed into the new Farnsworth?
But worst of all, Toronto beat Tampa Bay so the Yankees are in fourth place – fourth place! – where we haven’t been since 1992.
Does everybody remember the Yankees of ’92? Aside from Mattingly, they were not a pretty sight. Here’s a little trip down memory lane – a trip I sincerely hope the Yankees brain trust in Tampa will take. If looking at this lineup doesn’t scare Hank and Hal into making changes in the off season, I don’t know what will.
(Imagine Bob Sheppard announcing the following and manager Buck Showalter handing the home plate umpire the lineup card….)
Matt Nokes – C
Don Mattingtly – 1B
Pat Kelly – 2B
Charlie Hayes – 3B
Andy Stankiewicz – SS
Mel Hall – LF
Roberto Kelly – CF
Danny Tartabull – RF
Kevin Maas – DH
Oh, and here’s a sample of our pitching staff that year….
Melido Perez….Scott Sanderson….Scott Kamieniecki….Greg Cadaret….Rich Monteleone….and my personal favorite Tim Leary, who got caught reaching for the emory board in his cap (or was it pine tar?) on national TV.
Pathetic! Just pathetic!
OK. I’ll calm down. So we’ll wind up in fourth place. No biggie. There are other things to celebrate than just winning divisions and wild cards. We can still count down to the end of the old Yankee Stadium. Well, we can if we’re lucky enough to have tickets for one of the final games. I live in California, so I won’t be there. I did try to enter the Yankees’ #1 Fan Contest and get free tickets to the last game. But you have to live in the Tri-State area, so I was ineligible. Did this team and its $200 million payroll not want to spring for the airfare? Or was it the thought of the hotel bill that freaked them out? The cab to and from LaGuardia? Come on, people!
Yeah, I’m mad.
Wouldn’t you know it? With 24 games left and tonight’s contest at the Trop not meaning much, especially with the Red Sox thumping the O’s, the Yankees finally resembled the team they were supposed to be. Moose pitched a gem, A-Rod hit a homer, Joba threw well out of the pen, and the Yanks won. What’s more, we were the ones that played crisply and cleanly while it was the Rays that looked sloppy, both in the field and on the bases (Upton’s spectacular catch aside). So ironic. Tampa Bay has the best record in the majors and the Yankees are on life support, and yet tonight was like a blast from the past: We were our old swaggering selves and they were the lovable losers.
Last year when I was researching “Confessions of a She-Fan,” I followed the Yankees to every city and every game after the All-Star break, including the games at the Trop. I have great memories of that place. Not because it’s a beautiful ballpark (it’s like an oversized gym) and not because of the delicious food (although they’ve got an Outback concession that was actually pretty good). It was because Matt Silverman, the Rays’ president, was a charming host, treating me to VIP seats for the entire series.
But mostly, the reason I’ll always have a fondness for Tropicana Field is that the Yankees clinched the wild card there last September. After the miserable first half of the season, we rebounded in one of the most amazing comebacks in baseball history and made it to the playoffs.
What a scene it was that night in ’07. The photographers covered their equipment in plastic so the cameras wouldn’t get doused with champagne during the clinch party. While the players celebrated, I sat in my plush seat clapping until my hands were raw. I was so happy.
Well, now here we are a year later. No clinch party but a victory tonight. I have no choice but to settle for that.