So I went to that Yankees- Red Sox game last night. It almost didn't happen.
I bought the tickets back in April for Jamie and me. However, he had decided not to go to Yankee Stadium this year so no Jamie.
Luckily, Alex B. decided he would like to go to the biggest game of his young baseball fandom. We met for a movie at Film Forum ("The Corporation") that I found quite appropriate considering we were about to go see the most corporate team imaginable. After the movie, we almost decided not to go to the game.
Upon arriving in the Bronx, we almost decided to sell our tickets. Instead we went to McDonald's (my second time since seeing "Super Size Me") and bought some food to bring to the game.
It was a mess outside the stadium. Half the fans were wearing "1918" shirts or "Babe, Bucky, Boone" shirts or "Red Sux" shirts. Nice. I deliberately didn't bring a bag to the game because I was so sick of the ridiculous request to empty all my stuff into a clear plastic bag. I couldn't imagine that I was going to be asked to put my McDonald's into a clear bag, but I was. Unbelievable.
The father and young son in front of me weren't allowed into the park (counterfeit tickets?) and the guy to my left wearing a "Red Sox Sucks" shirt was told he had to turn his shirt inside out because of the profanity on his shirt? What? Are we in Tampa?
Alex and I had great seats right behind home plate in the first row of the cheap seats. The third batter for the Yankees, Gary Sheffield, stepped out with a 2-2 count right before Pedro could throw. I thought, "Pedro is definitely going to hit him with the next pitch." Sure enough, bam, right in the back. The fans went nuts and Alex commented that it felt like a big English football match, more so than any other game he'd ever been into. I started fantasizing about a great fight where Derek Jeter would get his pretty face all messed up- but that would have to wait for later.
Pedro settled down, but the Yankees didn't. Two homeruns in the first five innings gave them a 3-0 lead. Boston came back to tie it in the 6th and 7th.
Then things started to get really crazy. Both teams kept wasting opportunities to take the lead from the 8th through the 12th innings. In the 11th, the Red Sox loaded the bases with no outs and I thought, "Here comes a triple play." And sure enough, it seemed for a second that the Yankees had turned a triple play on an amazing grab by Alex Rodriguez who touched third to force Manny, threw home for the 2nd out, and then received the throw from home to tag out the third out, who was also the first out. Huh? Everyone was so amazed at the play that they hadn't noticed that the runner that Rodriguez had tagged out for the last out was Manny Ramirez who was the runner he had forced out for the first out and was simply heading back to the dugout.
In the top of the 12th, Derek Jeter made a pretty amazing catch to end the inning as he catapulted into the stands, bloodying his pretty face in the act. It is pretty telling that Jeter will kill himself for a play like that while Mia Hamm's boy Nomar sat on the bench all night.
In the bottom of the 12th, the Yankees had a runner on 3rd with no outs and the Red Sox employed the old seven man infield play that never seems to work. Kevin Millar kept shifting between the left side and right sides of the infield, and the outfield- each time needing a new glove. It was a funny sight to see him and another Red Sox (I can't remember who it was) keep running to the line to get a new glove tossed at him from a coach. At one point, the glove that the player threw collided in mid-air with the glove the coach threw. That drew a cheer and broke the unbelievable tension for a spell.
With no outs, pinch hitter Giambi had no chance against Leskanic or the parasites eating away at his already toxic insides. As an aside, I hope for the best for Mr. Giambi and also his lovely teammate Kevin Brown who has also been diagnosed with parasites. Do you think he has it written in his contract that his parasites get an extra private jet ride too?
With one out, Leskanic hit Sheffield which incensed Torre, but not Sheffield. He was quoted as saying that Leskanic's brother "put in my pool at my house, so there's a friendship there." Then for the intentional walk to A-Rod, Millar headed back to the outfield and had to get a new glove to do it. Then after the intentional walk, he came back to the infield, again changing gloves. What? Was it really necessary to change gloves for an intentional walk? Somehow the Red Sox got out of the inning intact.
After the 12th, Alex left for the evening. There was no way I was going to take off with a game like this going on. And when Manny hit his second homer of the game in the 13th to give the Red Sox a 4-3 lead, I was so damn happy, but still quite uneasy. Also, in the 13th, Alex Rodriguez got to play short for the first time as a Yankee and Gary Sheffield played third for the first time since he looked like this.
In the bottom of the 13th, with Ruben Sierra at first, and Miguel Cairo (Miguel Cairo?!) at the plate with two strikes and two outs, Curtis Leskanic could not put him away. He doubled past Millar and Sierra came all the way home from first base.
Next up, John Flaherty (John Flaherty?!) pinch hitting for the pitcher Tanyon Sturtze (don't ask) who, of course, drove in Cairo with a smash past Manny Ramirez. I couldn't believe it, but, of course, I could. It was the Yankees beating the Red Sox, it was all so preordained.
I headed to the subway drunk on baseball glory and Yankee agony. The many Boston fans in the crowd seemed too stunned to be upset. I consoled a couple of them, but there was nothing to say other than, "Yeah, I hate the Yankees too."
When I got back to Brooklyn, I checked my messages and there was one from Alex. He said that he heard the roar of the crowd when Manny hit his homerun in the 13th and was sad that he hadn't stayed another twenty minutes. A wonderful moment in time captured on my voicemail, before the inevitable fall. He's British, he doesn't know you shouldn't count the Yankees out against the Red Sox with only a one run lead.
For a great recap of the game check out this great article from The Hardball Times.
File this one away as "Don't need to read this when Dan posts it in his year end review, Part II."
On another note, I'm so sick of writers and "experts" badmouthing Bill James, Billy Beane, and Theo Epstein. Last year, everyone badmouthed the Red Sox for their ill-fated attempt to have a closer by committee. It didn't work, not because the idea was flawed, but because they simply didn't have good relievers at the beginning of the year. If I recall correctly, the early 90's Pirates had a closer by committee situation led by the inscrutable Bill Landrum that worked well.
Last night, Terry Francona brought in his closer Keith Foulke in a 3-3 game in the 8th. This made sense. But, many managers might have saved their best reliever until they had a lead so they could protect it. All that Epstein was saying last year was that he didn't want his team to be hamstrung by the doctrine created by Tony Larussa that you only bring in your closer to start the 9th inning while protecting a lead. All Epstein is espousing is a return to the way bullpens were used in the 70's through the late 80's before Larussa ruined baseball.
In today's Times, Murray Chass talks about how the Red Sox are ill conceived because they have deliberately not signed good defensive players because the Red Sox are against good defense. What? What was the signing of Pokey Reese? Know what the hell you are talking about before you write it, Murray! Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi are terrible defensively. Kenny Lofton can't throw and Jorge Posada is afraid to block the plate. And I don't care about that catch last night; the best defensive shortstop in baseball should not be playing at third. Sigh.
1 day ago