Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Yanks 5, Jays 1 -- Live From Yankee Stadium

I was in attendance last night, so it's time for the Game Experience Recap. I hope the GERs are more fun to read, because they're a ton more fun to write. If I ran a newspaper, this is what I would have my beat reporter doing.

Not to go all Peter King on everyone, but there's a preface to this GER. I left work early so I could catch a train my buddy had boarded at a previous stop, and noticed that the parking lot was rather packed. From the street, I definitely saw one spot, so I figured I was set. What I didn't count on was an un-uniformed man roaming the parking lot, telling me that I need to pay him $7 to park here. There was nothing about him that signaled that he was in any way official, so I wasn't about to hand him over the dough without a little interrogation.

“I'm sorry, but there are no signs anywhere that indicate I need to pay for parking.”
“Look at the lot, man, it's full (yet there was a spot, about 50 feet away). They (who are “they?”) charge for the lot and the meter is down (I looked everywhere for a meter, did not see one). And when it gets full we have to move cars around, so I need your keys.”

It was then that I knew I wasn't catching the train. Why in the world would I hand this unofficial looking fellow my money and my keys? I may be a suburban white kid, but I'm not stupid like the stereotype would have you believe.

“Do you have a supervisor with whom I could speak?”
“No, man, it's just me. Look at the lot, I ain't lyin' to you. Use common sense.”

That, my friends, put me over the top. Had I any formal fight training, I would have stepped out of the car and socked him. Instead, I let out a huge FUCK YOU.
NOTE: I removed a reference here that I'm not particularly proud of. I wrote without thinking, and I was fortunate enough to have reader Tonya L. point out the error of my ways. Thank you, Tonya. God, I feel like Ozzie Guillen now.

To the bus station I went, which was late, and took forever to get to the city. All of that, and I only missed the top of the first.

On a sweltering, humid night in the Bronx, Jaret Wright is not the guy you want on the mound. He has trouble throwing strikes, and works at a pace similar to a Giambi sprint. Throwing 45 pitches in the first two innings isn't ideal in any game, but last night's was especially damning. And after seeing the Yanks flail their first time through the order, I didn't have a whole lot of confidence.

But then came the fourth. The crowd went a little nuts when Jeter walked to lead off the inning. And they got a little more nuts when he stole second. So the place was obviously booming when Giambi hit it over the shift, putting runners on first and third with none out. And then it happened...

During Giambi's at bat, I turned to my buddy Jon and said, “I'm giving Alex a standing O when he comes up.” This was in reaction to the morons surrounding us who deemed it suitable to boo him after striking out in the second. I mumbled something about Plato and the Alex booers being lovers of opinion rather than seekers of knowledge, but I'm rusty on my Plato and it may have come out sounding like gibberish.

Much to my surprise, about 30 people in my section alone did the same. You could hear a few boos in the background, but the cheers certainly drowned them out. This wasn't a big big spot, but the Yanks were down one and could certainly have used a run.

And then he delivered.

He didn't try to put it over the fence. He didn't rear back and swing with all his might. But holy shit did Alex tear the cover off that ball. Jeter could have stopped for a beer on the way home, but unfortunately Giambi was the man on first base.

Run you fucking fatass, run!

Up came Abreu, and you could just feel that he was going to plate those two runs. He went down 0-2, and like Giambi I don't mind that count on Abreu. He worked six more pitches – three balls and three fouls, in that order – before finally taking his free pass. It's not a home run, but we do pay him to walk. Jorge couldn't get in on the action, striking out for the first of the inning.

Bernie was next, leaving me very insure of our chances of bringing in even one run. As you may have picked up from reading this site, my friends and I routinely refer to Bernie as the Double Play Machine. This was the perfect situation for a DP, with the game tied and a potential rally on the base paths. “Uppercut, Bernie!” I yelled from about 12 rows behind home plate. He obviously didn't hear me, because he took a level cut and planted the ball in the left-center field gap. Abreu scored from first, and the game was opening up, 4-1 Yanks.

The subway races came on between innings, an event on which I'm sure guys in the bleachers are gambling. Te race has degenerted over the years, as it's now just a John Sterling recording over some generic CG sequences. In the end, it's basically a random number generator. Why can't we do it like they do in Milwaukee, with a Polish Sausage, Italian Sausage, Bratwurst, and a chorizo racing until the bitter end? We can afford Bobby Abreu, but we can't afford to suit up four guys per game for our entertainment value.

Jaret Wright managed to finish the fifth after 103 pitches, and while he didn't get a standing O, he deserved at least a pat on the back. He did what was expected, which is five innings and less than three runs. This allowed Villone to get some action, and boy did he deliver. Not only did he pitch an effective inning and two-thirds, but he made an excellent knee-jerk play, snagging a ball that very well could have hit him in the face.

Proctor and Farnsworth finished the job, with Farnsworth even impressing his biggest detractors. That, my friends, is what you can do when you throw 100 mph gas instead of a weak slider. There is, however, one play I would like to harp on for a second.

In the sixth, Alex tried to score on a Posada single. This was reasonable, since he was on second. However, the ball was hit right to Eric Hinske, who threw it on target to Gregg Zaun. The plate was completely blocked, and Alex was a dead duck. He knew it, Zaun knew it, the ump knew it, the whole stadium knew it. It's part of baseball, it happens. He tried to maneuver around Zaun, but with no success. Of course, the boo birds could be heard in the background, but it was more like crickets chirping at a barbeque. Everyone in the surrounding seats questioned why he didn't slide, and since I was a bit tipsy (hey, they delivered the beer right to my seat! What was I supposed to do, not drink?), I felt the need to interject my first-hand experience as a catcher:

“If Alex slid, it would have been right into Zaun's shin guard, which is one of the last things you want to do. No sense in risking a broken ankle in a 4-1 game. Zaun's actually the lucky one, though, because if the game was any closer, Alex would have probably tried to plow him, and Zaun would have ended up with a knee to the skull. Not fun, especially when a guy as small as Zaun gets plowed by a guy as jacked as Alex.”

My only regret is that I didn't meet up with Ben of Off the Facade, but that's a product of my own stupidity.

First place, baby! Thank you loss column.