Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Got Melky?

Okay, so normally this blog is about music, poetry, politics, and occasionally my personal life. But today, I'm going to talk about baseball. Why?

Because after a third of the season has passed me by, I finally made it to the Stadium with the help of Schedule 1. Despite have enough injuries to key players to make most folks think they're done, the Yanks are in first place in the AL East. A lot of current Yankees fans may take this for granted, but after growing up in a time when the Mets were New York's team, and the Yankees went from very good but not good enough to win the division to downright awful in the mid 80s through the early 90s, I relish every game and take no division lead for granted. I love the memories of the late 90s dynasty, but also hunger for number 27.

I will also admit that this Yankees team, at times, has been tough for me to root for. Randy Johnson, Gary Sheffield, Jaret Wright? These folks are Yankees? I'm not as hard on A-Rod as the rest of the world is, in part because I think he has guts when he admitted to going to therapy and really appreciated his giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to a children's psychiatric hospital. And I can't fault him for getting the money the market could bear: if Tom Hicks wasn't making hundreds of millions, he wouldn't have agreed to pay A-Rod 25 million a year. But this team has a different feel to it than teams of old. And the injuries have been piling up: 18's foot, Jeter's hand, A-Rod and Giambi with the flu, Sheffield and Matsui's wrists, Bubba Crosby, Shawn Chacon (who i really like as an addition to the team), Tanyon Sturtze, the list goes on.

But in these injuries, you get to see the character of the team, and during this stretch, the Yanks have been on a tear, and have had their best record of the year, and are now in first place. And some of the younger players, like Andy Philips and Melky Cabrera, have really had a chance to play regularly and shine.

Anyway, we were playing the hated Red Sox today; we beat them yesterday in a laugher 13-5. I was tense about this game; Chien-Ming Wang has been having a bit of a sophomore slump, not as reliable as last year having had starts where he's given up 7, 6 and 5 earned runs, and you know the Red Sox were going to be looking for revenge after yesterday. And in spite of the fact that their rookie starter's era was over 12, I just had a feeling this one wasn't going to be as easy.

We were in the upper deck, out by the foul pole in left... Schedule1 turned to me and said "remember when we used to have the good seats?" but since the Soriano trade, we haven't gone after tickets with the same zeal as we used to. These were good seats, mind you, but they weren't tier box mvp 601, either. There was a medium rain that gave us a little pause as we got close to game time. Stopped by US1 and the Court Deli for appropriate provisions and opened up the umbrella i was smart enough to bring with me just in case of rain. Meet schedule 1, we get to the gate, and we're told our liter water bottles were "too big". WHAT?! Mind you, between Schedule1 and I, regular season and playoffs, I'm sure we've been to over 200 games. And not once were we told we couldn't bring in a liter bottle of water. We were both annoyed. tried talking with the security guy, who just was being a jerk about it. Our choices were drink the water outside the stadium, go back to court deli and exchange for smaller water, or... wait, let's try another gate. we walk about 500 feet, try the next gate, and the guy lets us in no problem. The rain stops, and we dry off our seats and settle in for the game. Hopecakes and SR join us, even though they are wearing the hated colors of the enemy. Ah well, no one is perfect.

The game was old school baseball. Bunting to get on base, base stealing, hit and runs to try and eke something out. As I suspected, Red Sox rookie David Pauley looked much more solid than his first outing showed. Though he really seemed to have trouble pitching to lefties. visably so. i'm hoping i can find a split of how he fared lefty vs righty on pitch counts and what not, because it really was pronounced. Anyway, Wang had a high pitch count early, but was able to get some key outs and battle back when necessary. Red Sox took the lead with a solo shot from David Ortiz, I think that's probably his 20th or something off the Yankees. So here's a question. This mammoth guy, dives across the plate, can muscle just about anything out of the park. He's been hit by a pitch fewer times in the last 3.33 years (8) than Derek Jeter has been hit in any of the full seasons in that period (13, 14, 11). Is there a reason pitchers are not backing him off the plate? I'm not saying throw at him, or aim to injure him, but brush him back off the plate a little bit. It's part of the game. I guess they'd rather try their luck with Ortiz, who's really only come on in the last few years, than with Manny, who's a surefire hall of famer, and despite all his manny being manny bullshit and loafing is one of the best righthanded hitters of this generation.

But Wang kept at it, didn't lose his composure. He actually even brushed Manny back, which brought the crowd to his feet. I muttered to Schedule 1 that I didn't think that was intentional, and he agreed, but we still cheered the kid. And who brought us back into the game but Bernie Williams. The only hold-over from the dark ages still on the team. The guy who we love, but who's skills we've seen slowly leave him... he jacked one out of the park, a solo job, to knot the game at one. The Stadium was kvelling for Bernie. End to end Yankee (hopefully). He's really been hanging in there, and been thrust back into the outfield with three and occasionally four of our outfielders sidelined. Did make a bad error on one single, but it managed to not matter.

What I thought was the craziest play in the outfield was Manny trying to stretch a single into a double, and getting down by Johnny Damon. You know, looks like Jesus, Acts Like Judas, throws like Mary Johnny Damon? The guy every Red Sox fan and his brother would tell me that he's a very slight improvement over Bernie in center, but he throws terribly? Yeah, he gunned down Manny. And believe me, I love good taunting fodder. The Yanks/Red Sox games at the Stadium are usually a pretty mixed crowd, so it gives me a chance to heckle everyone. A chance I relish. :-)

In the bottom of the seventh, the Yanks loaded the bases, and Francona brings in Seanez with to get the last out and slam the door. Up comes Giambi. And while I'm not as mean about A-Rod, I also realize the tear Giambi's had recently, and if I had a choice, I'd face A-Rod instead of giving Giambi a chance to blow it open. Even said this to Schedule 1. So they walked Giambi, forcing in a run, and Seanez strikes out A-Rod. But now we've got a lead, and it's getting close to Mo Time.

But Joe doesn't leave in Wang for one batter, or bring in Proctor to face the right and then bring in Myers to face Ortiz; instead, he brings in Farnsworth to face everyone. I'm not so enthused about this idea, with his ERA around 5. But Farnsworth gets Loretta, he strikes out Ortiz... and then he almost proves me right... almost.

If it wasn't for 21 year old rookie Melky Cabrera making the single best defensive play i've ever seen in person. Ramirez ripped the ball. It was headed for Monument Park. But Melky jumped up, got it, brought it back in and held onto it for the final out of the game. It was absolutely unbelievable. So much so, that not only did I get myself a shirt bearing the title of this post, but I woke up knucklehead and made her watch the catch four times before she konked out again.

Take a look for yourself on the Yankees homepage. Look for links titled "Melky robs Ramirez" and so forth.

Mo comes in in the 9th, and it's time to sing some Sinatra very loudly. Congrats Mo on passing Eckersley to be fourth all time in saves. The best reliever ever.

What a game.



Blogger sched1/david. said...

IIIIIIIIMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM gonna make a brand new start of it, in OLD NEW yorrrrrrrkkkkkk a... a... a... ANDDDDDD....

12:27 PM  

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