Okay. I know. I was the pessimistic one yesterday. And I think the frustration had reached a boiling point for many in the Yankee Orbit. Then, we were treated to this:
The drama! The intensity! The incredibly terrible call by this here ump! I believe that a manager getting thrown out can fire up his/her team. But in this case, I think it was actually the bad call on Gardner getting “picked off” first. It wasn’t even close. Something that maddening is bound to push a frustrated group right over the edge whether the manager gets thrown out or not. And it did. In a good way.
Francisco Cervelli, who does have a way of making good things happen (although I am emphatically not in the group calling for Posada to be put out to pasture), hit his first major league home run, and nobody in the dugout even bothered with the pretense of giving him the silent treatment.
(Speaking of Cervelli, I can’t get a handle on his accent. I know he is from Venezuela and that he played in the WBC for Italy. Is he of Italian descent? His accent kind of had that feel to it in the postgame interview with Kim Jones.)
Mo’s got a bat! Look out. He actually hit the ball pretty hard to center field, although it was caught by Nate McLouth. Of course, CC Sabathia’s reaction was priceless. As soon as the ball came off the bat he started jumping up and down like a mad man. It was kind of an awesome moment. That’s the kind of enjoyment I look forward to seeing from my boys. I hope we get to see lots more of it in the near future.
I like to watch pitchers. I like the whole idea of a one-on-one battle with the hitter and how exciting it can be when someone is just mowing down batter after batter. I like seeing big numbers on the radar gun, but what I really like the best is any pitch with crazy movement.
You have to have a big ego, or at least a lot of inner confidence to be out there on the mound in front of all those people with the game essentially in your hands.
And so, with the mention of big egos, we come to the nasty little secret that colors my recent years of baseball fandom. The secret that’s not so secret to anyone who knows me. The secret that would make Yankee “purists” excommunicate me.
I love Josh Beckett.
I get that he’s not the most cuddly guy around. I get that he can be a complete jack***. I get that he pitches for the Red Sox and, before that, pitched for the team that denied the Yanks a World Series title in 2003. But I’ll tell you this: in 2003 I wished we had someone like him on our team. He was cocky, focused, and never seemed to doubt himself.
Fast forward to 2006 when he became a Red Sox, forcing me to cheer for him personally while still wishing for his team to lose. He got knocked around quite a bit, mostly due to his incredible reservoir of stubbornness. But I still felt that his intimidation factor was high because, more than anything else, he believed himself to be a badass.
Then, in 2007, I got hooked on Joba Mania. In Joba I found all that I had been looking for in a Yankee over the course of the last decade. You see, the workmanlike manner of Jeter and Mo and Posada is great, but I want to see some fire. I want someone who will challenge hitters; someone who isn’t afraid to mix it up. And definitely someone who shows emotion out there.
Joba was all that and then some. And I think he still is despite various bumps in the road. What’s great about him is that he can stalk around the mound and stare down a hitter without giving the feeling that he’s a raging egomaniac 24/7. It’s the difference between confidence and arrogance.
Tonight Beckett and Joba pitch against each other again. I don’t know if I can take it. Joba throws hard and tries to establish himself on the inside part of the plate. Beckett also throws hard and tends to act like he is The Enforcer, put on this earth to unleash f-bombs on anyone he feels is not playing the game “the right way” (see: Abreu, Bobby).
It all just adds some extra tension to a game that already puts people in a mood where they are ready to snap like dry twigs.