Friday, June 11, 2010

Houston, We Have Your Number

My previously advertised critique of the Yankees-Orioles at Camden Yards experience will have to wait. There's tonight's games, and then there's tomorrow's massive U.S.-England World Cup match, to discuss.

Yankees 4, Houston Astros 3. I hate Interleague play, but I like to win, and Andy Pettitte, pitching against his hometown team for the 1st time in his career, picked up his 200th win as a Yankee.

(He also won 37 with the Astros from 2004 to '08, giving him 237, one more than Whitey Ford, although Whitey won all of his games as a Yankee, making him the club's all-time leader. Red Ruffing won 270, 231 as a Yankee, so he’s 2nd. Andy is now 3rd.

He's had an amazing career. One minute, he looks like "Average Andy," a guy who's gotten by with great teammates; the next, he looks like the pitcher who's won more postseason games than any other. The former is a bit harsh; the latter is absolutely true.

John Sterling addressed this on the radio a few years back: "If Andy Pettitte's pitching, and the Yankees win 9-5, people say, 'He's tough, he's gutsy, he's really got the cutter working.' But if the Yankees lose 5-2, people say, 'He’s lost it, he never had it, he's relying on the cutter too much.' And he's pitched the same game."

Andy does have one big thing in common with Whitey, beyond being a great lefty starter for the Yankees who comes through in postseason play (Whitey's the all-time leader with 10 wins in World Series play): He does seem to pitch juuuuuuuust well enough to win in big games.

Are they all big games? It sure seems that way when you're playing, or watching, one at Yankee Stadium, the old one or the new one.

A-Rod didn't play. Apparently, it's not a groin issue, but a strain in his hip flexor. This is much more encouraging news than was suspected, and he’s day-to-day.


The Yankees beat the Astros, who, on their last visit to The Bronx, in 2003, had 6 pitchers combine to throw a no-hitter, the only no-hitter against the Yankees since 1958. But the Yanks took the next 2 games to take the series.

During the 1986 National League Championship Series, Mayor Ed Koch teased them, calling them "the HOW-ston Astros," rather than "HEW-ston," as their city is usually pronounced. "HOW-ston" is how the street in Lower Manhattan is pronounced, the east-west thoroughfare that is, effectively, "Zero Street," as it is just north of Houston Street that the numbered east-west streets begin.

Oh, if only the Astros had beaten the Mets in that series. The Mets might've used the line from Apollo 13: "Okay, Houston, we've had a problem here."

How many sports fans have gone to games involving the Astros, the NFL's Oilers and now Texans, the NBA's Rockets, and college sports' University of Houston and Rice, with signs saying, "Houston, you have a problem"?

But I must admit, it was a Rockets fan who put up one of the best fan signs I've ever seen. The Rockets were playing the Utah Jazz in Game 7 of a Playoff series on a Sunday, at home at the Summit (they've since moved to the Toyota Center), and won. The Jazz' biggest star was Karl Malone, known as the Mailman, because "he delivers." And a fan at the Summit held up a sign saying, "There's no mail on Sunday!"


The Tampa Bay Rays were getting clobbered by the cross-State Florida Marlins, 14-3, before closing to 14-9. Still, the Fish won, leaving the Yankees just a game and a half behind the Deviled Eggs.

The AL East remains close, as the Boston Red Sox, who pounded the Philadelphia Phillies tonight, are 4½ back, while the Toronto Blue Jays are 5½ back. Only the Baltimore Orioles, from whom the Yankees just took 2 out of 3 (but dropped the one game I ended up dropping a bundle on Amtrak, the game ticket and food to see, rats), a massive 22½ games back with the worst record in baseball.

Speaking of the Sorrioles, they lost at home to the Mets tonight, 5-1. They had men on 1st and 3rd with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, and missed a home run that would have made it 5-4 by inches when it went foul. But Pedro Feliciano got the strikeout to keep the win alive for rookie knuckleballer (boy, does that sound like an oxymoron) R.A. Dickey.

The NL East is even closer than the AL East: The Mets are now 2nd to the Atlanta Braves, a game and a half back (but would be 5 games behind the Yanks and 6½ back of the Rays), the slumping Phils 2½ back, and the Marlins and the much-improved Washington Nationals 5 back.

The Yankees lead the race for the AL's Wild Card (not that this is how they would prefer to get into the Playoffs, especially since their 3 Wild Card berths thus far all led to Division Series losses), while the Mets trail the San Diego Padres for the NL’s by 2½ -- they’re closer to the Division lead than the Wild Card lead.


Speaking of the Mutts... Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta showed up at Citi Field the other day, and the Mets gave her a private box at Citi Field, which was to be unused that night by its owner, Jerry Seinfeld.

Who? Would that this were still an appropriate response. Unfortunately, you may know her by the stage name Lady Gaga.

Anyway, Gaga was caught giving the middle-fingered salute in Jerry's box.
Now, I could call this typical Met-fan behavior. But the truth is, A, Yankee Fans are just as likely to do it (although I've never actually seen a Yankee Fan do it at a game, not even at Fenway); and, B, Lady Gaga is not a typical anything.

A native of Manhattan, she wants to be the new Madonna. Haven't we had enough of those? Take any 10 of the performers who've been hailed over the years as "the New Dylan," and 9 of them will be better than any "New Madonna."

Gaga is no lady. She can't sing, she looks ridiculous, her lyrics are even more so. I'd like to poke her face.

The Yankees have had Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and most recently Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. The Mets have Lady Gaga. Really, that says it all.

Unless you want to add... The Mets have Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Kevin James and Jon Stewart, but this chick is the real clown.

UPDATE: A few weeks later, Jerry took Lady Gaga to a Citi Series game at Yankee Stadium. This time, she wore a Yankee jersey... barely.
In the years since, my opinion of her talent has changed, but my opinion of her recordings has not. In fact, it's gotten deeper. I've heard her sing and play piano without special effects. She can do both, very well. So why does she need that stuff? It's like Barry Bonds taking steroids: It's totally unnecessary.

But she has been one of the stars taking the lead on social issues, so I applaud her for that.

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