The catcher-turned-broadcaster Joe Garagiola liked to say, and titled a book he wrote, "Baseball is a funny game."
Monday night, both the Yankees and the Mets went to extra innings scoreless -- the Yankees lost a heartbreaker to the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg thanks to an 11th-inning home run, the Mets beat the Pittsburgh Pirates at home in the 10th. Last night, both were part of slugfests -- and both won, this time the Yankees getting an extra-inning homer.
Yeah, baseball's a funny game. About as funny as a slug in the gut.
Last night, the Yankees took a 6-0 lead, and had the bases loaded with 2 out in the top of the 5th. Derek Jeter struck out. Thanks a lot, Captain. Oh well, it's not like the Yankees are going to blow a 6-0 lead, not with rookie Ivan Nova pitching so well. Not even against the Deviled Eggs.
Well, as they say in soccer (which I'll get to shortly), "Six-nil, and you fucked it up!" After 5, it was Rays 7, Yanks 6.
Had that score held, it would easily have been the worst loss of the season -- maybe a season-defining loss, especially if it meant that the Rays held first place for the rest of the season, the Yanks got stuck with the Wild Card, and got a less-favorable Playoff matchup and lost it while the Rays went on to win the Pennant.
The score didn't hold. The Yankees tied it in the 7th, and then, in the 10th, Jorge Posada, injured for a few separate chunks of this season and pinch-hitting for his backup, Francisco Cervelli, hit one out. As John Sterling would say, "Jorgie juiced one!" As the rest of us would say, correctly pronouncing the Spanish J like an English H, "Hip, hip, Jorge!"
Yankees 8, Rays 7. Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez homered earlier in the game -- Robbie's 27th of the season, 114th of his career; for A-Rod, Numbers 23 and 606 (157 to go).
After Nova's 5th-inning implosion, Boone Logan managed to stop the bleeding with only one more run. Joba Chamberlain, Kerry Wood, David Robertson (winning pitcher) and Mariano Rivera (30th save of the season, 556th of his career) each pitched a scoreless inning. Mo got into trouble in the bottom of the 10th, but Greg Golson, subbing in right field for the injured Nick Swisher, gunned down Carl Crawford, long thought to be the fastest man in the game (maybe 2nd to Ichiro Suzuki), at 3rd base for a truly dramatic final out.
Making the last out of an inning at 3rd? Brett Gardner did it the night before, claiming insect interference. Crawford said after the game, "At least I'm not afraid of wasps."
The author of the blog Baseball & the Boogie Down suggests that what really upsets Crawford is that, now that the Yankees have Gardner, they don't need an outfielder with Crawford's speed anymore, and thus Crawford will never, ever, EVER win a World Series.
Which would have made it possible for Gardner to pull a Patrick Roy and say to Crawford, "I can't hear you, I've got a World Series ring in my ear."
Yanks back in first place by half a game, albeit tied in the all-important loss column. The Yanks' Magic Number to clinch the AL East is 18, to clinch at least a Playoff berth 11.
(Thanks to the blog River Avenue Blues for their photos illustrating this: For the last couple of days, Wade Boggs on the police horse after the '96 Series, his Number 12 to the camera; today, a postgame celebration with Gardner's Number 11 to the camera.)
The Rays managed to get 28,713 into Tropicana Field for this battle of AL East contenders. That leaves about 8,000 seats empty. Their highest ticket price is $300, with most of their seats going for between $20 and $40, so they can't use the excuse of, "It's a recession, and nobody can buy our fabulously expensive club seats!" Which explains the 5,000 or so seats always unsold at Yankee Stadium II: Every seat is sold except those. So the Rays' attendance is still pathetic considering their on-field performance.
Tonight, Phil Hughes vs. James Shields. The Yankees MUST take this series finale and get some momentum.
Andy Pettitte pitched another rehab assignment for the Trenton Thunder. This time, Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series, which the Thunder won in 2007 and 2008. He threw 5 innings, allowing 6 hits, 2 runs (both earned), just 1 walk, and 49 of his 67 pitches were strikes. (Thanks again to River Avenue Blues for the stat. Good bloggers, have a cookie.)
While I'm happy that New Jersey's highest-ranking baseball team is now 2 wins away from a Pennant, which would be its 3rd in the last 5 years, it's more important to me that Andy be ready for the last 2 weeks of the regular season and the postseason. Andy's next start may just be this Sunday in Baltimore. Then he'd be ready for the following Friday night, at home, against The Scum.
Ines Sainz is not Lisa Olson. If what I've been hearing is true, she was not sexually threatened by the Jets players. Harassed, maybe. But we're not talking about Lesley Visser or Michele Tafoya here. (Good thing, because if we start talking about Michele Tafoya, who's a great reporter as well as a woman I love, I might get, uh, what do you call it, oh yeah, distracted.)
Sainz dresses provocatively, and then gets upset when men say things to her? This is not "blaming the victim" for a horrible crime. This is "garbage in, garbage out."
Ines Sainz would not have her job if it were based on talent alone. Frankly, I think she's a butterface. As in, "Yeah, she's got a great ass. But her face, oy!"
Welcome to the real world, Tottenham Hotspur. They had a 2-0 lead on Werder Bremen, in Bremen, Germany, in their first "real" UEFA Champions League game. (They had last played in the tournament under its predecessor name, the European Cup, in the 1961-62 season -- 49 years.) And, "Two-nil, and you fucked it up!" Werder 2-2 Tottenham.
Manchester United also flopped last night, only managing a scoreless draw at home against Glasgow Rangers. Two teams that no one with any good taste would root for. And Ryan Giggs got a yellow card. A Man United player getting a yellow card at Old Trafford? Before you say, "Only 6 signs of the apocalypse to go," I should point out that this is Champions League play, and the English FA (Football Association) and their corrupt referees can't save ManUre in this situation.
Man U star Antonio Valencia got his leg broken. But he doesn't play for Arsenal, and neither were Rangers playing their arch-rivals Glasgow Celtic, so now you know his leg was broken in a freak play with no malice. This does, however, increase Man U's woes, and the English Premier League may just come down to Arsenal and Chelsea -- both of whom also have injury issues, but both have weathered them well so far.
Today, Arsenal opens Champions League play against Sporting Braga of Portugal, at home at Ashburton Grove. Braga are traveling, and have never been in this tournament before, and are without their starting goalie (injury) and 2 other players (suspension), so they have little to lose (figuring they can get Arsenal back at home). But unlike Spurs, Arsenal should have no trouble showing the world what a London-based Champions League team looks like.