Saturday, Tim and I set off to the gleaming new palace in the Bronx at 7:30 a.m. Our trip consisted of an uneventful drive to New Haven to pick up the new Yankee Stadium Metro North train. This is unquestionably the best thing they ever did. (And, after the game they have separate trains leaving for those who are only going as far as Stanford and those going on to New Haven, so no overcrowding. Bless you stadium planners, whoever you are!)
The Stadium itself is really a lot to take in all at once. Tim and I agreed that it is now an awesome place to see a game.
Before, it had the mystique but not the comfort. Here’s my sad little no-zoom-lens picture of Pettitte and Molina warming up:
In fact, we had a perfect view of the Swisher Salute during the roll call. I think Tim might have sprained his muscles from rolling his eyes so much. Then, just because it wouldn’t be a Yankee game for us unless Tim felt tortured, they played a montage of Swisher highlights on the enormous screen during the changeover in the middle of the first inning. Delightful. Here are two of the many Swisher fans in our section (I thought I would be in the minority):
Andy looked good through the first six. The game was flying by. Everything was going good (well, not everything. WTF, A-Rod???). And then, the wheels came off. Andy suddenly couldn’t throw a strike; they took him out in favor of Aceves. I have a lot of faith in Aceves, but on this day, it was not to be.
Now, it might have been something I said. Something that was not so nice. About the family of a certain senator from the great state of Massachusetts. I don’t even know why we were talking about that. But whatever it was, Tim said I was about to be struck down by lightening, and immediately Aceves started coughing up runs. Finally, David Robertson got the Yankees out of the inning. With a 6-1 deficit. Great.
At this point, Tim and I had spent our first-born’s college money on bottles of water. I had brought a travel-sized bottle of sunscreen, which was down to its very last bit. But I wasn’t going anywhere. I’m a ride-the-game-out-no-matter-what kind of girl. So, we baked in the sun some more, and I was rewarded with a two-run homer by Jeter that just barely went over the fence and a sweet right-field shot by Tex.
In the top of the ninth, Nomar Garciaparra came up to bat, and the fans booed him as they had been doing all day. Tim, once again, rolled his eyes. “He’s been on three different teams since his was a Red Sock, ” he said. “Well, they’ll stop booing him when you guys stop booing Johnny Damon at Fenway. Get over it.” (Note: I actually like Nomar. I don’t consider him part of the Boston teams that I have grown to hate.)
“Get over it” may have been a little too strong, considering my karma wasn’t that great at the moment. We did get to see Brett Gardner make two great catches in center field, but later found out he’d broken his thumb. The Yankees ninth-inning comeback didn’t materialize, and I was forced to ride the train back to New Haven with a smirking hubby. Here I am smiling before things took such a disappointing turn:
When we got home that night, I told myself that I was not going to watch the game on Sunday. I held to it for about an hour and a half after game time. I didn’t want my terrible karma to interfere with another Yankee win.
But soon curiosity got the better of me, and I turned on the tv….just in time to see Phil Coke give up the lead! Poor Phil Coke – I definitely have a soft spot for him. Thankfully, the Yankee bats came back this time, and Hughes, Bruney, and Mo tied the win up with a nice, neat bow. I guess three out of four isn’t bad. Next time I’ll be nicer in my thoughts about the Kennedys.
First of all – who in the world does not love this man?
I know I’ve said it before, but it bares repeating that Mo is an impressive figure both on and off the field. He seemed confused by the fact that the Yankees would have him throw out the first pitch to last night’s game. Nobody else was confused – they all wanted to give him the standing ovation he deserves.
But I think I sort of had a delayed reaction to the 500th save and all the hoopla surrounding it. I actually got choked up last night with save no. 501. And not because I’m crazy or anything, but because I thought about watching this team in light of the way my grandfathers watched the team and my mother and father watched the team. They all had those players of mythical status that they could say they were lucky enough to watch play: Joe D., Mantle, Yogi, & Maris (my mom’s fave). Of the veterans on the current team, Jeter and Mo fill those spots for me.
I know things are different now. Players’ lives are de-mystified to the point where we have to separate liking the player from the person. But I’m glad I’ve had the chance to root for two old-school type players like them. I always wonder if my kids (should I have any!) will have the same kind of fan experience.
All right, enough sentimental girly stuff. On to a few tidbits that others have mentioned today, but I need to second:
- Brian Bruney shaved the catapillar on his upper lip but it didn’t help him any. Also, he apparently went to the Ian Kennedy School of Quote-Giving.
- Joe Girardi, what goes on in that crazy little head of yours? Phil Hughes is throwing heat, getting outs. Why not bring him out for the next inning? Why, for the love of god!
- Related to the item above: Phil Hughes has moved into second place on my baseball boyfriends list, knocking Joba down to fourth.
- As Pete Abraham noted today, somebody’s got to get the fight back into Joba. Get on that, Dave Eiland. I would hate to have to drop him another couple of spots on my totally ridiculous list.
- Ken Griffey Jr. had a sad look on his face last night. He’s not hitting well, but even worse, he looks like the reality might be setting in that he’s not the player he used to be. I feel for Junior. He lost so much time with injuries, and now his age has become a factor. On the upside, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the first person mentioned whenever someone asks who has/had the sweetest swing in baseball. Plus – great smile.
- Oh, Nick Markakis, you make me love you more each day. Although I don’t know what that country at-bat music is all about.
Last night, it was sweet to watch Mariano Rivera record his 500th save (and his first-ever RBI). Today, people have written all about Rivera’s legacy and what the numbers mean and all that other stuff.
For me, as a fan, it comes down to one thing: He has been as close as there ever was to a sure thing.
There are so many facets to a MLB win: hitting, starting pitching, relief pitching, defense, base running, fan interference…
But being the closer always seemed to be the position in which you have to have immense courage and a zen-like nature to excel. There’s not much worse that losing a game on one pitch that came out of your hand.
Mo almost never seemed phased by the responsibility of being that guy. Even after blowing a save to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, he seemed able to put it in its proper perspective. He was disappointed, obviously, but many lesser closers and lesser men would have let something like that destroy them.
Over the past few years, Mo may not have looked as sharp as he did in the prime of his career, but I still thought he could make things better. Young guys out in the pen? Let Mo teach them all his secrets. Wang having a crisis of confidence? Mo should have a talk with him. Set-up men nervous about facing certain hitters? Have Mo tell them his philosophy: Even in batting practice, when the guys know what’s coming, they don’t hit it well all the time. So, just throw your very best stuff in there and don’t be afraid of the contact.
I know people are wringing their hands over what happens when Mo retires, and I worry about that too. But if anyone in the ownership still has half a brain left, they’ll have him hired as a coach immediately after his farewell tour as a player. He’s still got a lot more he can share with this team.
I don’t really have much to say today. And I won’t have much to say for the next week or so. I’m going on vacation and will have limited access to the interwebs. Which is probably a good thing at this point.
That doesn’t mean I’ll be on vacation from baseball, though. My hubby and I are going to Baltimore to see the Orioles play the Blue Jays, and then we are going up to Philly to see the Phillies vs. the Mets. I’m pretty psyched to relax and root for a team I really don’t care all that much about.
Specifically, I’m excited to see Camden Yards. I’m also looking forward to seeing Nick Markakis, live and in person. And, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t be?
But, really, I can’t wait to watch the Phillies. Why is that? I don’t know. I mean, I love Ryan Howard. But besides that, I just think they are a team I could get behind if I had to root for someone else (the Twins and the Cardinals also appeal to me). My husband, in that awesome way that he has, is determined to get his picture taken with the Phillie Phanatic. We’ll have to make that happen.
So, until I return with tales of non-Yankee baseball adventure, I will just say that I am touched by the support Chien-Ming Wang is receiving from his teammates.
I hope Mariano has his planned chat with him and that Wang regains some of his lost confidence. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to say bad things about someone who seems like such a nice guy.
***UPDATE***: Wow. I don’t even know what tickets I bought. That’s how addled my brain is. The Orioles are actually playing the Mets and the Phillies are playing the Jays. This is why I need vacation. Desperately.
This term has always been a favorite, since my brother first used it to describe having no job, no girlfriend, and no car circa 1995. I know my tagline says to take deep breaths and to check in with reality every once in a while, but the reality is bleak.
Which is not to say that the future is bleak. Just the present. But that’s what bothers me. Because, if you get beat up enough in the present, your psyche may not rebound in the future.
My Red Sox-lovin’ husband said to me last night, “Do you really think this team is an under-.500 team?” No, I do not. His point is that they will click at some point. My point is that if the frustration reaches maximum levels, the pessimism will infect even the most optimistic guys.
I really like this group of guys. I want to see them do well. But I’m beginning to suspect that they will have to mutiny in some way to get it done. That’s right: I’m breaking down and blaming Girardi. No, he’s not responsible for the horrible team batting average with runners in scoring position, but after two weeks of watching games and saying “Why? For the love of god, why?” to many of his decisions regarding starters and the bullpen, I can only come to the conclusion that, at some point, he’s going to stir up more frustration than inspiration in the dugout.
For now, the reality is that smiles and high-fives are few and far between, and Mo’s face right here tells you all you need to know:
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.