Back in 1984, when Yogi Berra was in his 2nd go-around as manager of the greatest sports franchise in the world -- and I don't mean those (George Carlin word)s at Manchester (George Carlin word)ing United -- the story goes that he saw Don Mattingly stay in the batting cage for a long time, and he said, "Donnie, you're going to hit yourself right into a slump."
This from a man who allegedly once said, during a difficult stretch of his playing career, "Slump? I ain't in no slump. I just ain't hitting."
Going into last night's finale of a 4-game home series with the Chicago White Sox, it could have been said of a lot of the Yankees that "They just ain't hitting." In the preceding 3 games, they'd scored only 6 runs on 13 hits, winning only 1 of the games.
Last night, they broke out. They unloaded on the Pale Hose for a 12-3 win.
Brett Gardner, who'd been awful in the season's first 3 weeks, hit his 3rd homer in the span of a week. He's still batting just .169, but he's got his OPS up to .613.
Nick Swisher was also in a nasty slump, striking out when swinging at some awful pitches. But last night, in the bottom of the 7th, he hit a scorching liner down the right field line. The only question was whether it would be fair or foul.
Unless, of course, you are John Sterling. When I heard the radio highlights later (this time, I saw it on TV first), Sterling left no doubt, going right into, "Swung on, and there it goes! Deep to right field! That ball is high! It is far! It is gone!" No pause between "It is... " and " ...gone!" He knew it all the way.
Well, I saw it on TV, and it was just barely fair. Counts the same, though.
And boy did Swish need it. His 1st of the year, for 2 runs, and it capped a 3-for-4, 4-RBI day for him. He's now up to .237, and his OPS is up to .654. This is a guy who hit 160 homers in the preceding 6 seasons, so he's not used to this kind of poor start. He was overjoyed.
Nicholas Thompson Swisher of Parkersburg, West Virginia plays for the love of the game. The fame? The glory? He likes those, too. But you can always tell when a guy loves the game.
Of course, all of this would have mattered very little if the Yankees hadn't gotten good pitching. They got it, from CC Sabathia (2-1), who went 7, allowing 3 runs, none of them earned, on 7 hits and 1 walk. They also got it from Lance Pendleton, who pitched a scoreless 8th and 9th. (Obviously, no save with a 9-run lead and only 2 innings. Had he pitched 3, according to the rule he would've gotten the save.) Edwin Jackson (2-3, winning his first 2 decisions but has now lost his last 3) got the loss for the South Siders.
Jorge Posada remains in the struggle zone: He went 0-for-4, and is now down to a .130 average. Derek Jeter got the night off, and did not get any closer to 3,000 hits. Alex Rodriguez went 1-for-4 with a double, so he got a little closer to 3,000, but no closer to any home run milestones, be they 630 (Ken Griffey Jr.), 650, 660 (Willie Mays), 700, 714 (Babe Ruth), 750, 755 (Hank Aaron) or 762 (Barry Bonds). And, of course, with a 9-run lead, Mariano Rivera got the night off, so he got no closer to the all-time saves record of 601 (Trevor Hoffman).
Tonight, the Yanks begin a 3-game home series with Toronto, those Pesky Blue Jays. Let's hope the Yankee Fans leave The Stadium (II) as happy as the crowds leaving Buckingham Palace this morning, following the balcony reception for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, formerly Prince William and Kate Middleton.
In the reign of Queen Elizabeth II (February 6, 1952 to the present), the Yankees have won 16 Division Titles, 22 Pennants and 13 World Series. Under her father, King George VI (December 11, 1936 to February 6, 1952), they won 10 Pennants and 9 World Series. Under her uncle, King Edward VIII (January 20 to December 11, 1936), they played just 1 season, and won the World Series. And under her grandfather, King George V (May 6, 1910 to January 20, 1936), they won 7 Pennants and 4 World Series.
In the remainder of the Queen's reign, and in the presumptive reigns of the men currently known as Charles, Prince of Wales, and William, Duke of Cambridge, may the glory keep on coming -- for both the royalty of Britain and the royalty of baseball, the New York Yankees.
And while we're on the subject of London... Under George V, Arsenal won the League 4 times and the FA Cup 1; under Edward VIII, Arsenal won the League; under George VI, Arsenal won the League twice and the FA Cup once; and under Elizabeth II, Arsenal have won the League and the FA Cup 7 times each. Hopefully, they'll return to their trophy-winning ways while Elizabeth is still on the throne. After all, I hear she's an Arsenal fan. Prince Harry is one, too, although Prince Charles has been said at various times to support Liverpool and Burnley, and I hear William supports Aston Villa, the Birmingham club.
Jeter 2948 52
Rivera 567 34
A-Rod 618 145
Magic Number 137 (to eliminate Rays, 136 for O's, 135 for Scum and Jays)
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