Monday, July 6, 2009

Back and Forth Between Parties

Yesterday was the big party. The twins' 2nd birthday was Thursday, and Nana hosted their party. As I was arguably the least important person at the party, I was able to go back and forth between the party and the Yankee game.

Joba Chamberlain threw too many pitches again, but the Yanks had a 4-0 lead after 2. So far, so good. But then Cody Ransom, subbing for A-Roid, made an error in the 4th, and Joba totally lost his composure. Huge cheer when Joe Girardi came out to remove him, and Joba got booed off the mound -- who would've thought that would ever happen? Jays 8, Yanks 4.

So much for paying attention to 2 parties at once. I couldn't be too upset; when your team has won 10 of 11, you can't really gripe about losing the 12th. Besides, the girls and their friends were having a ball.

Then someone asked me to check the score. Oh, okay. When I turned the TV back on, Hideki Matsui, who has been smoking lately, had just hit one out to make it 8-7. And Derek Jeter homered to make it 9-8 Yanks. A couple of people at the party were quite happy about that, including a friend of my sister's, whose husband was at the game.

The rest were focused on the kids, the food, and the petting-zoo animals that Mom/Nana and Sister/Mommy had hired -- or, as the girls called them, "anmals!" They love anmals. There was a donkey, a sheep, two goats, a rooster, two ducks and a rabbit. One of the goats put his front legs up on the fence used to pen them in, and tried to eat the leaves off one of our trees. They all seemed glad to be there except the donkey, who looked bored.

You should have seen the dog sniffing around the backyard after everyone left: The poor guy was going nuts, wondering who had done what to his yard! He was like a Met fan after the 2000 World Series!

The final was 10-8, and Girardi, who had told the press that he wouldn't use Phil Hughes, Phil Coke or Brian Bruney, and didn't want to use Mariano Rivera, either, got away with it because the guys he did use shut the Jays out the rest of the way: Jonathan Albaledejo stopped the Toronto threat in the 4th, and pitched fine in the 5th, and Alfredo Aceves came up with something I've never seen except in high school baseball, a 4-inning save.

The Yanks and Jays started at 1:05, the Mets and Phils at 1:35. By 4:00, the Mets' game was already over, while the Yanks were still in the 5th. Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley homered off The Great and Powerful Johan Santana, and the Mets fell victim to some sensational Philly defense. Phils 2, Mets 0, for the sweep.

Looks like the Mets won't choke in September this time. Looks like they're done before the All-Star Break. (Speaking of donkeys... and I don't mean the Democratic kind... ) The Yanks are still 1 game behind Boston, and very much in the hunt for the Playoffs.

Jeter and Mark Teixeira were named All-Star starters. Rivera joins them. The Mets? David Wright has been named a starter, and Santana and Francisco Rodriguez have been named reserves.


Speaking of things that go back and forth... Before the party, I caught the end of that epic Wimbledon final. I don't normally watch tennis, but for the 2nd year in a row, Roger Federer was in an epic match in the "Gentlemen's Singles" Final. Last year, Rafael Nadal beat him in a spectacular match. This time, Federer was in the longest-ever 5th set in any major tournament, against... Andy Roddick? Seriously, Andy Roddick? Andy's Mojo is back?

As the color commentator on NBC's broadcast, John McEnroe said it was like a heavyweight title fight that's now in the 20th round. With that seemingly unresolvable tiebreaker, they played the equivalent of 6 full sets rather than the standard 5, and moved into a 7th. Federer had a whopping 47 aces, and still Roddick didn't give an inch, with 29 of his own. This wasn't tennis, this was a freaking tug-of-war.

Federer was playing for his 15th major, breaking the record he jointly held with Pete Sampras. Roddick was playing for vindication and, pretty much, for validation of his career. And they were both playing as though they understood and felt the weight of history.

My Grandma was a huge tennis fan, a native of Queens, where the U.S. Open was held first at Forest Hills and since 1978 in Flushing Meadow across from the Shea/Citi Field site. I have her picture over my desk, and I kept looking back at it, saying, "Are you watching this? Can you believe this?" From the Ultimate Skybox, she was probably loving it.

It just went on and on and on, because Roddick refused to let Federer break his serve, and Federer was equally resolute. Finally, Federer broke Roddick to end it.

Roddick 7 6 6 6 14
Federer 5 7 7 3 16

Rick Reilly said on ESPN, "How can you call Roddick a loser?" He's right: He did more good for himself by reaching the Wimbledon final and taking the best player of this era -- maybe of any era -- beyond any reasonable limit than most players will ever do with a single victory.

Which takes us back to McEnroe's analogy: Not only did Roddick do as much good for himself as McEnroe did in defeat in his duel of death with Bjorn Borg in the 1980 Final, but he did as much good for himself as Joe Frazier did in the Thrilla in Manila with Muhammad Ali in 1975.

Serena Williams beat her sister Venus for the "Ladies' Singles" title, then they teamed up to take the Doubles title.

It's a little weird that Wimbledon, British sport's greatest spectacle (greater even than the FA Cup, and I don't want to hear about the British Open golf tournament), comes to its conclusion around the 4th of July, the anniversary of the day America declared its independence from Britain. But a lot of American eyes were on this tournament, including those of Sampras, who was there to congratulate Federer on surpassing him. Federer also took a phone call from some guy named Eldrick Woods. (I wonder if the Queen was watching.)

Well, now I can forget about tennis until the U.S. Open reaches its bigger rounds.


Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 32, August 6 at The Stadium.

Days until the Emirates Cup kicks off the next Arsenal season: 54.

Days until the next Premier League season begins: 41.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 60.

Days until East Brunswick plays football again: 65.

Days until the Devils play hockey again: 89 or thereabouts.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 144.

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