Here we go again. This morning, we learned that Bud Selig is not the only one with his head up his ***–FIFA apparently has the same aversion to technology as the MLB does. Of course, not to be outdone by the horrible refs in South Africa, the “Year of the Blown Call” got taken back here when Gary Cederstrom admitted today that Johnny Damon should’ve had a game-tying bases-loaded walk in yesterday’s Tigers-Braves game instead of a game-ending called strikeout. I had just been arguing with my father today that balls and strikes were the one thing I didn’t want to see dictated by technology, and Gary, you’re really not helping my case. (For the record, Dad’s position was that they could put a chip in the ball–whereas such propositions have only ever been made in football and soccer, two sports where it would be impossible because one requires the entire ball to be over the line and the other requires any part of the ball to be over the line–either way, the entire ball would have to be chipped up.)
I think I’m just going to live-blog this, Bill Simmons-style. Probably should’ve started that earlier, actually…
PM: I tune in as Bernie Williams is getting a huge ovation. Apparently
they’ve been introducing Yankee greats across time, including the
starting lineup from the first game ever played at Yankee Stadium. Now,
Bob Sheppard with the starting lineup. In centerfield, #18, Johnny
Damon. At shortstop, # 2, Derek Jeter. In right field, #53, Bobby
Abreu. At third base, #13, Alex Rodriguez. At first base, #25, Jason
Giambi. In left field, #22, Xavier Nady. At second base, #24, Robinson
Canó. The designated hitter, #55, Hideki Matsui. Catching, #26, Jose
Molina. And pitching, #46, Andy Pettitte.
Okay, now that we can
get out of stuffy serious mode, let’s take a look at the rest of
baseball. As I said, a Yankee loss will give the Red Sox a playoff
spot. For tomorrow, Florida is out of the NL East with a loss or a
Philly win. The Cubs will clinch home field up until the World Series
with a win or Philly loss.
8:13: Special guest to catch the
ceremonial first pitch…okay, it’s Jorge Posada, who’s been on the DL
all year. Nice. Throwing out the first pitch is Julia Ruth Stevens, the
8:15: There’s going to be a “special postgame
celebration” after the game. If Baltimore wins, there’s also going to
be such a celebration in Boston. The Sox may even be back in town in
time to see it, depending on when their plane left/leaves Toronto.
Speaking of Chicago Cubs, it looks like ESPN may have rush-delivered
Lou Piniella to New York. Oh, wait, that’s right, the Cubs have a
four-game series at Shea starting tomorrow. Okay, so that makes a
little more sense, but it still seems like they must have gotten the
team to NYC pretty quickly.
8:25: Jon Miller asks, “Who will hit
the last home run at Yankee Stadium? Jeter? A-Rod?” I hope it’s an
Oriole. Preferably Kevin Millar.
8:26: Joe Morgan says it’s not
a must-win game for the Yankees. He later qualifies it by saying that
they will be eliminated from the playoffs this year. I still disagree.
You don’t eliminate yourself, and you definitely don’t close out your
home ballpark by handing a playoff berth to your most hated rival.
break means we can discuss more eliminations and stuff. Okay, actually,
we don’t have any more for tomorrow. We have the Phillies clinching a
playoff berth with two wins and a Milwaukee loss…we probably have
others. The game is coming back. 8:30 PM already, and still no pitches
besides the ceremonial one.
8:31: They’re scrolling Yankee
Stadium history across the bottom of the screen. Gag. Now we’re on
all-time Yankee Stadium leaders. Mickey Mantle leads in Games Played
and Home Runs; Jeter leads in Hits, Gehrig in RBI. Now we’re in
“Events”, such as notable boxing matches and concerts. Concerts! I wonder why I’m doing this.
Finally, Pettitte takes the mound, to the tune of “Boys of Summer”.
Miller tells us about “the roll call”, that despicable part of the game
when everyone chants the players’ names until they respond, then
wonders if that tradition will move with them to the new stadium.
Morgan, thankfully, tells him that because of the fans’ fervor, a lot
of things will be moving over.
8:37: Oh, no, they’ve got one
camera on those fans and another on whatever player’s name they’re
calling out. Abreu has to ignore them momentarily to catch a fly ball
from Brian Roberts, then Nick Markakis singles to center on the first
8:39: Morgan talks about the roar of the crowd, something
I can appreciate, having once identified a classic game on the radio as
being at Yankee Stadium just from the crowd noise. Mora flies out to
Nady, and Huff grounds out to Jeter.
8:41: Was there a commercial there, or just more Yankee Stadium reminiscing? Chris Waters is pitching for Baltimore.
The recorded Bob Sheppard introduction of Derek Jeter. Was too busy
looking up Waters’s numbers to see how Damon got out. Waters debuted
with 8 innings of one-hit, shutout ball, and in his most recent start,
had a complete game shutout.
8:44: Apparently Jeter got an award for breaking Gehrig’s record. Tonight, though, he’s out on strikes.
Morgan reminds us that Jeter’s playing hurt tonight. My hands can’t
move quickly enough for this…how does Simmons do this? Another
backwards K, and it’s 1-2-3. You don’t think…Nah, there’s no way that
would happen, right? 😉
8:49: Miller tells us the Orioles have a
potent offense. They also tell us that Pettitte is on a personal 5-game
losing streak. Sounds good to me.
8:50: Hernandez is down on
strikes. For the second time tonight, we’re told that Ruth said he’d
give a year of his life to hit a homer in the first game at Yankee
Stadium, and that he did. Oh, and that was career strikeout #2,000 for
8:51: Adam Jones triples off the top of the wall
in right. Millar comes up with a chance to drive in the first run in
the last game at Yankee Stadium.
8:52: Pettitte’s considering retirement, apparently. Allegedly. You know how long southerners’ retirements last, though.
8:53: Full count.
It’s a walk. Jay Payton comes up and drives in the run with a
broken-bat grounder to short, too slow to turn the double play.
8:56: Juan Castro flies out to Damon.
Okay, so maybe giving a play-by-play is too much. Best to focus on the important stuff, and on Miller’s inane comments.
bizarre. In spite of their OT loss to NC State, East Carolina is still
ranked. Oregon was knocked out by Boise State, and with OK State idle,
they were unable to capitalize on the other losers…so Vandy and TCU
are in. To review: there are only 19 teams from BCS conferences in the
AP Top 25. And one of them is Vanderbilt. And one of those non-BCS
teams is all the way up at number 11.
9:04: A-Rod reached on a walk and is at second with two outs. So, yeah, it’s still possible.
9:04: Whoa! Brian Roberts gets a Web Gem for a diving catch. 2 innings done.
Yogi and Whitey are in the booth. Miller calls Ford the greatest
pitcher in Yankee history, then asks Yogi to confirm. Yogi, jokester
that he is, says, “He’s okay.” One on, didn’t see how. Roberts then
steals second. Ford gives a story about warming up in the late innings
of Larsen’s perfect game because “Don gets tired in the late innings.”
Still scrolling facts.
9:14: Showing highlights of Jackie
Robinson stealing home in the World Series off of the Ford-Berra
battery, a call they didn’t agree with. Mora drives in Roberts. Ford
relates a story of Phil Rizzuto saying that he could see from shortstop
that Robinson was safe, but years later, they found out that Scooter
wasn’t even playing that game.
9:19: Finally, inning over.
9:23: Matsui gets the first hit for the Yanks, a single. Now showing, the final pitch of Larsen’s perfect game.
9:26: Three-run homer, Johnny Damon. ****.
9:27: Jeter hits one to almost the same spot, but not far enough; running catch, Markakis.
9:33: Has there been a game going on here? Two walks have given them first and second with two outs.
Fly ball to left, ends the inning. Whitey told the story of when he
gave up four hits on his first four pitches and Casey Stengel came out
and asked Yogi if Whitey had anything and Yogi responded, “I don’t
know, I haven’t caught anything.”
9:37: There really was only one commercial there, then a return with “New York, New York” playing. I think it was the Sinatra version, but it didn’t really sound like either of the main versions.
9:42: One-out double for Millar.
Now talking about 1976, Chris Chambliss’s home run, the Big Red Machine
and Reggie Jackson as a guest star on the telecasts, saying that the
Yankees needed “a big hitter”–and they would acquire Jackson that
offseason. Tie ball game on a two-out RBI single by Roberts. Inning now
9:54: Two-run homer, Jose Molina. Argh.
Brief mention of John Sterling. Yes, I’ve more or less lost interest.
Sterling and Michael Kay were apparently the emcees of the pregame
ceremonies. The official closing of the Stadium is in November. Isn’t
that a bit early for an outdoor hockey game?
10:16: Peter Gammons with David Wells and David Cone, talking to them about their perfect games.
Pettitte leaves with one on and none out in the sixth. This means he’s
eligible for the win, and not eligible for the loss.
10:20: Jose Veras on to pitch.
Sounds like a “Boston Sucks” chant. Also, celebrities in the stands. We
have Val Kilmer, we have Bobby Knight…do we have others?
10:26: Pinch-hitter? Oscar Salazar comes out to pinch-hit for Juan Castro.
Now showing: Reggie’s heroics in the ’77 World Series. Oh, he’s in the
booth. You can tell that I’ve lost interest in this game, can’t you?
Seventh inning stretch. Ronan Tynan’s there, of course. Also, a couple
more pitching changes. Phil Coke replaced Veras with two out in the
sixth, Lance Cormier replaced Waters with two outs in the bottom of the
sixth, and Joba–the one and only–replaced Coke with one out in the
top of the seventh. When did Joba return and why is he a reliever
again? I take it he’ll also take care of the entire eighth, then hand
it off to Mariano. It’s the only right way.
11:01: Back again.
While we’re thinking of closers (we knew that regardless of score, Mo
would be pitching the ninth), K-Rod had save number 60 yesterday
Michael Kay is taking over in the broadcast booth. ESPN normally shuts
out local coverage, so it’s really nice that they’re handing the mic
over to the YES play-by-play man.
11:06: Abreu singles and steals second. A-Rod’s up, 0-for-1 with two walks tonight.
11:07: Abreu to third on the fly out.
11:09: Pitching change. Cormier replaced by Jamie Walker.
Pop-up, bad communication, no one catches it, Abreu scores. Dropped by
Brandon Fahey. Wait, when did he enter the game? Brent Gardner
pinch-running for Giambi, Rocky Cherry replacing Walker.
11:14: Oh, right, Castro left the game. Fahey pinch-ran for Salazar and took Castro’s place at shortstop. We’re back.
11:17: GET FAHEY OUT OF THERE!!! He boots the ball, and Gardner, running on the play, makes it to third.
11:19: Sac fly Canó, Nady to second. Gonna take quite the comeback for the O’s to pull this off…
11:20: Pudge pinch-hits for Matsui and grounds out.
Defensive changes: Gardner stays in at center, Damon to left, Cody
Ransom comes in to play first base, batting in Nady’s spot.
11:25: Two outs already. Damn, that’s quick.
First-pitch flyout for Jose Molina, the first time he’s been out this
game. He’s been declared the Chevrolet Player of the Game, though I’m
hoping that will change.
11:31: Fahey finally catches one, but
collides with Alex Cintrón in the process. Someone rescue this poor
idiot. Cintrón then throws out Jeter for out three. We’re not even
cutting to commercial, instead focusing on the bullpen. Mo throws a
couple more pitches before entering.
11:34: Wow, that was a long
montage of calls. Every no-hitter and perfect game, a few major home
runs…”Enter Sandman”. Payton, Fahey and Roberts due up, but Luke
Scott is in the on-deck circle. So Fahey is given a little mercy, after
11:36: Count is 1-1. Yes, we’ll be going play-by-play for the ninth.
Another foul; 1-2. Miller points out that it’s not a save situation,
“not that anybody cares on this night.” Payton grounds out to Jeter.
11:38: Yep, Scott will pinch-hit. Good. Very good.
11:39: Two down. Oh, now this
is cheesy. What do you think this is, an All-Star Game? Jeter leaves
the game, then comes out for a curtain call at the crowd’s request.
Bullsh*t move by Girardi. I hope that the final out, whenever it comes,
goes to shortstop, just to rub it in Girardi’s face.
11:41: Nope; grounder to first ends it. No clinch for the Sox.
11:45: They’ve finished up playing Frankie’s version of “New York, New York”…and started it again.
11:47: Jeter’s got a mic in his hand. Let’s see what he’s got to say.
too much to write verbatim. It’s very nice, though, and he did a great
job at quieting down the crowd–although you can still kind of hear the
crowd roar. Big cheers when he calls them “the greatest fans in the
world”. It ends with the organization saluting the fans. Cool, I guess.
Is that even the Stadium PA playing the song this time? Yeah, I think
it is. Of course, it sounds like it’s out of sync with itself. Bad
camera wiring? Is it something recursive, it’s recording itself? Or are
different speakers just playing it at different times?
11:52: Okay, how many times are they going to play that damn song?
12:01 AM: A retrospective of the night.
The Yogi Berra commercial…no, wait, it’s different this time. Yogi’s
had a commercial for this final game, but this one is different. Even more
poignant. Oh man…I may be trembling again. Okay, so it’s just an
extended version, here’s the ending I remember. Finally, the full
12:04: SportsCenter begins. This is Passed Ball, signing off.
12:05: Spoke too soon. They’re playing it again!!!
Sure, sure, five of those seven runs were allowed by the
starter, but the Mets blew a 7-0 lead, they lost in 13 innings, the tying run
scored with two outs in the ninth…it wasn’t great. After the oft-maligned Aaron
Heilman pitched three shutout innings, Scott Schoeneweis came in for the bottom
of the thirteenth and immediately gave up a triple to Shane Victorino. Mets
manager Jerry Manuel made the logical move here, ordering Schoeneweis to
intentionally walk the next two batters to get to the pitcher’s spot. As the
Mets’ announcers told us, Cole Hamels, their best-hitting pitcher, was already
used the previous time the pitcher’s spot came around, and Kyle Kendrick, their
second-best, was warming up to pitch in case it went to the fourteenth. Brett
Myers, 2-for-44 on the year, came up, and after the announcers discussed the
possibility of a squeeze, they decided that Myers had received orders not to
swing. Uh, was Charlie Manuel watching this year’s All-Star Game? If you
weren’t going to let your pitcher swing anyway, why not just leave Rudy Seanez
out there, save Myers for if the game goes 20-some-odd innings and Kendrick
gets tired? The Mets’ announcers had a bigger concern, namely, why it took
Schoeneweis six pitches to strike out a batter with no intent of taking the
bat off his shoulder. This, too, was a strategical move, avoiding the
possibility of the 1-2-3 double play. The Phillies won, 8-7, on Chris Coste’s
single, capping off a 4-for-4 night that started with a pinch-hitting
appearance in the eighth inning. Wait, whaddya mean “strategical” isn’t a word!
Yeah, there was a lot of booing where I was last night, the
house at the corner of 161st and River–most of it directed at the
home team’s third baseman, at least in the later innings. Heck, they even booed
him when he made a play. Great game. We were originally going to go into
the city by way of public transit, so I opted to forgo my bright red Red Sox
gear for something more subtle. The t-shirt features a dictionary-style
definition of the word “idiot” with the alternative definition “One who sells
his soul to the evil empire”, a clear reference to former Sox outfielder Johnny
Damon. It looked a particularly apt characterization, as Johnny seemed to be
the only one on the team doing anything on offense, hitting two home
runs in a game in which the Yankees only scored a total of three runs. A-Rod
was particularly atrocious, going 0-for-5 with two GIDP and making the final
out of an inning in four of his five PAs. He also had an error. The Red Sox are
now just 3½ out in the division. Also, they may be getting Mark Kotsay from the
Braves. Kotsay’s current team was only mentioned in that last sentence in order
to provide a segue into the Braves’ stunning come-from-behind win, scoring four
times in the bottom of the ninth to win 10-9. The game had been 3-0 Atlanta at
one point, then 6-3 Florida, and then I think it was tied 6-6 before the
Marlins took their 9-6 lead. I’ll have to double-check that. (Correction–After
6-3 was 6-4, then 8-4, then 8-6 before 9-6.)
In other news, Carlos Zambrano broke a record last night. He
picked up a base hit in his thirteenth straight start, surpassing the 12-game
hitting streak by Johnny Sain that had served as the record for a pitcher. An
interesting curiosity. Oh, and the game the Cubs played against the Pirates put
that Braves-Marlins game to shame in lead changes. The Pirates scored the first
three runs, then it went from 3-1 Pittsburgh to 5-3 Chicago in a flash, so
quickly on the out-of-town scoreboard that I assumed a grand slam. It wasn’t; Geovany
Soto had a three-run double, and the other run came…somewhere in that vicinity.
The Pirates closed it to 5-4, then the Cubs scored again to make it 6-4, only
for the Pirates to tie it at 6-6…but then the Cubs took a 7-6 lead, only to
quickly end up down 8-7! Then the Cubs started to get serious. (My dad and I
were on the way home by the time this started, and neither of us were remotely
surprised to hear that Craig Hansen had walked two batters.) It became 9-8,
then 10-8, and then Geo Soto had his second three-run double of the night. The
final score was 14-9 Cubs, with Soto driving in half of his team’s runs.
Just another game off the calendar, though, as the Brewers
kept pace in dominating fashion. After eight innings, the lead was a
comfortable 5-0. By the time the Cardinals came to bat in the bottom of the
ninth, though, it was a laugher, as the Brewers put up seven insurance
runs in the top of the inning. The shutout held up for a 12-0 final.
“I was upset they threw him out of the game because he’s really good hittin’. He’s a cute little fella. He doesn’t throw that hard and doesn’t have very good stuff. It’s probably a good thing they threw him out, because it probably would have been (hit to) Monument Park. I love facing him. He doesn’t have many out pitches. He should be fortunate he is in the big leagues”–The always-quotable Kevin Millar on Edwar Ramirez after yesterday’s game, a 13-3 Yankee win. I was spot on about Millar yesterday–he really does do his best work against the Yankees, with six of his sixteen homers this year coming against them. The Yankees remained busy, trading Kyle Farnsworth to Detroit for Pudge Rodriguez and also dealing LaTroy Hawkins to Houston for a minor leaguer. The addition of Pudge brings them one step closer to having a full set of wild-card era rings on one team. Of the thirteen seasons since the wild card era began, the Yanks now have members of eight championship teams–’96 (Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte), ’98, ’99, ’00 (the three from ’96 plus Posada), ’02 (Jose Molina), ’03 (Pudge), ’04 (Damon), and ’05 (Marte). Okay, sure, they sort of already had ’03 with Pavano…I’ll admit it, I got confused at first as to which Marlins team Pudge had been on, thought he’d been on the ’97 one. Still, I doubt there’s any other team with championship rings from as many different years. Wait…actually, the Red Sox come close. In addition to the numerous members of the ’04 and ’07 championship teams still with the team, they have rings from 1992 (Timlin), ’93 (also Timlin), ’01 (Schilling), ’03 (Beckett and Lowell)…no, that’s still one short. Blame it on those Yankee teams, whose few remaining active players are mostly still Yankees. Anyway, while Manny hasn’t been traded yet, Ken Griffey Jr. is headed for Chicago, off to join the division-leading White Sox. And suddenly, they don’t look so out of place in the big dance.
Also, echoing a sentiment expressed by Baseball This Morning host Mark Patrick, Manny held up a sign yesterday that read “I’m going to Green Bay for Brett Favre straight-up”. Think Manny’s an XM listener?
Wish I could’ve wrapped it all up in that other entry, but that final condition kept me from talking about a few of the most important teams. Thursday brought drama, as the Rockies rallied from a 5-4 deficit after 10½ to win 6-5 in 11 innings, and the Diamondbacks recreated the Mother’s Day Miracle with six ninth-inning runs to beat the Brewers, 6-5. (D-Backs, Brewers and Rockies were all in that minority unrepresented.) The Rox did it again Friday night, winning in walkoff fashion after trailing by a different score at the end of almost every inning–5-1 after one, 7-3 after two, 7-4 after three, 13-5 after four, 13-9 after five, 13-12 after six, 17-16 after seven and again after eight before taking their first lead of the game with none out in the bottom of the ninth, an 18-17 victory over the Marlins. It’s not a Coors Field record for combined runs in a game–CIN 24, COL 12 back in 1996, or was it ’97?–but it is a record for largest deficit overcome by the Rockies to win a game, the nine runs that they trailed by after 3½ one more than the eight-run deficits they’d overcome against the Padres on two separate occasions. Kevin Youkilis had a bizarre triple, the ball caroming off the end of Johnny Damon’s glove and bouncing multiple times on the top of the wall before coming to rest there, only to eventually fall back to the field of play due to the shaking of the Stadium. MLB vice president of umpiring Mike Port believes that it would’ve been a home run if it had stayed on the wall because it’d broken the front plane, but it would be discussed in upcoming days. Also, Joe Borowski, namesake of the “Borowski save”, has been released by the
Native Americans Indians. Reid Brignac debuted in place of the injured Jason Bartlett, one of the few good things to come out of that nightmarish seventh, and contributed with sparkling defense, turning a tough double play after a bobble by Aki Iwamura resulted in him receiving the feed just seconds before David DeJesus of the Royals came barreling in on him. He went 0-for-3 but scored the tenth run of the Rays’ 11-2 victory after reaching base on an eighth-inning walk.
Wow. Some game the Yanks had today, eh? Johnny Damon had a career day
today–yes, even better than the day that he was just a homer away from
the cycle by the end of the first inning—
going 6-for-6 and driving in
the game-winning run in the Yankees’ 12-11 victory over Kansas City.
The Yanks faced a 2-0 deficit before they even came to bat and trailed
5-1 after 3 innings, but battled back to tie it in the fourth and take
a 6-5 lead in the fifth. Kansas City took a 10-6 lead into the
seventh-inning stretch, but pairs of runs in the seventh and eighth had
the game again tied before KC scored once in the top of the ninth,
setting the stage for the tense Yankee win. Jose Guillen drove in seven
of the Royals’ eleven runs with two-out homers in the first and seventh
innings, the latter a grand slam, along with an RBI single in the
third. The Sox weren’t hurting for runs either, as Manny homered in the
first to tie Eddie Murray on the all-time home runs list, J.D. Drew
came a double shy of the cycle, and Lowell and Youk doubled
back-to-back to drive in four insurance runs in the eighth in an 11-3
win most notable for the fact that at one point both teams had
knuckleballers on the mound: Tim Wakefield for the Sox and R.A. Dickey
for the Mariners.