The Yankees started a big series in Tampa Bay this Labor Day afternoon. Alex Rodriguez was back, as the designated hitter. CC Sabathia was on the mound. These were good signs.
The Rays scored single runs in the 2nd and 3rd inning, but the Yankees struck back in the top of the 4th, with the following sequence: A leadoff double by Robinson Cano, a single by A-Rod (the 2,873rd hit of his career, tying Babe Ruth on the all-time list), Raul Ibanez tripling them home, and Russell Martin singling Ibanez home. 3-2 Yankees.
But CC allowed the Rays to tie it in the bottom of the 5th. Joe Girardi only let CC go 7 innings -- having thrown 116 pitches. CC is not fragile cargo like, oh, I don't know... Joba Chamberlain. CC Sabathia is a man. He should be treated as such. But Girardi trusted the damn binder again.
David Robertson came in, which you would expect if the Yankees were leading going into the 8th. He allowed a single by Jeff Keppinger, who was then replaced by pinch-runner Rich Thompson, who was then caught stealing, and then Rays manager Joe Maddon put on his diva act and got tossed like the bitch that he is.
Robertson got the 2nd out, but then Ryan Roberts singled to left, and unlike Thompson, he successfully stole 2nd. And Chris Gimenez singled him home.
A-Rod struck out to lead off the 9th. Eric Chavez reached on an error, and Eduardo Nunez pinch-ran for him and stole 2nd. (Hey, two can play at that game.) Two chances to get the tying run home.
Ibanez grounded out, moving Nunez to 3rd. And Curtis Granderson made his return from a brief injury, batting for Russell Martin... and struck out. Game over.
Rays 4, Yankees 3. WP: James Shields (13-8). SV: Fernando Rodney (41). LP: Robertson (1-5).
And the Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-0.
On July 18, the Yankees' lead in the American League East was 10 games. Now, on September 3, it is 1 game.
In other news, Rutgers opened the Kyle Flood era by beating Tulane, 24-12, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.
The NFL season begins this Wednesday night.
And Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez appears to be dating Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria.
Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 4, this Friday night, home to South Brunswick. A little over 3 weeks. I'm glad it's a home game: It's always good to open the season at home, and South Brunswick is particularly tough to get to: Despite the distance, it's not close to public transportation. But that's the only thing I have against them: Though they are neighbors, they are not rivals. I intend to attend this game, which will hopefully end around 9:00 PM, so I can get somewhere and see most of this game which starts at 9:30:
Days until the U.S. National Soccer Team plays again: 4, this Friday night, against Jamaica in their capital of Kingston. The Stars & Stripes come off their 1st-ever win over arch-rival Mexico on Mexican soil, beating El Tri 1-0 at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Maybe Jurgen Klinsmann is starting to figure out how to pick a lineup. The U.S. team will also play Jamaica the following Tuesday, at Columbus Crew Stadium in Ohio. The next games will be in October at Antigua & Barbuda (that's one country), and against Guatemala in Kansas City.
Days until Rutgers plays football again: 5, this Saturday afternoon, home to Howard University, the historically black school of Washington, D.C. that likes to bill itself as "The Black Harvard." Should be an easy win for Rutgers' football team, but they'll never win the battle of the bands.
Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 8, a week from tomorrow, Tuesday night, September 11, at Fenway Park. Hopefully, the Red Sox and their fans will respect the anniversary. After all, both planes that hit the old World Trade Center -- those words don't sound right, and they certainly don't look right, but there is a new one -- took off from Boston's Logan International Airport.
Days until Arsenal play another competitive match (not counting preseason friendlies, which are already underway): 12, on this Saturday, September 15, home to Southampton, the newly-promoted South Coast team. This weekend, there are no Premier League games due to an international break, a.k.a. an Interlull, so Arsenal can't build on that fantastic 2-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield yesterday.
Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 19, against the New England Revolution in Foxboro on Saturday, September 22, and to Chester to face the Union on Saturday, October 27. Last Wednesday, they went to Washington to play D.C. United and came away with a 2-2 draw.
Days until the Devils play again: 39, opening the season on Friday night, October 12, away to the Washington Capitals. If, that is, the owners don't lock the players out again. If they don't, then it's under 6 weeks. The home opener is the next night, against the Boston Bruins.
Days until the Devils play another local rival: 44, on Wednesday night, October 17, the 3rd game of the season, the 2nd home game, at the Prudential Center, against the Rangers, the 1st meeting between the teams since Adam Henrique put The Scum in their place. The 1st meeting with the Philadelphia Flyers will be on Thursday night, November 1. I'd say the game will be at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly, but that's dependent on the arena's name not being changed... again. The 1st meeting with the New York Islanders will be on Saturday night, November 17, at the Nassau Coliseum. Barring a big change, there will be only 3 seasons left at the Coliseum -- and possibly only 18 more Devils-Islanders games, unless the Isles build a new arena, move to the Barclays Center, or somehow make the Playoffs in the next 3 seasons.
Days until the 1st Nets game in Brooklyn: 59, on Thursday, November 1, against the now actually crosstown Knicks. Just under 2 months.
Days until the 2012 Presidential election: 62. Just over 2 months. Register to vote... and on November 6, vote!
Days until the next North London Derby: 75, on Saturday, November 17, at the Emirates Stadium. The return fixture will be on Saturday, March 2, 2013, at White Hart Lane.
Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 80. Come on you Boys in Green! Beat those Purple Bastards!
Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 3,000th career hit: 363 (estimated around September 1, 2013). This is taking his recent injury into account. Under 1 year.
Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 517 (February 2, 2014). Under 17 months.
Days until the 2014 Winter Olympics: 522 (February 7, 2014).
Days until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil: 647 (June 12, 2014). Under 22 months.
Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 700th career home run: 742 (estimated, around September 15, 2014).
Days until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 1,432 (August 5, 2016). Under 2 years.
Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 756th career home run to surpass all-time leader Hank Aaron: 1,488 (estimated -- I'm guessing around the end of 2016, around September 30).
Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 763rd career home run to become as close to a "real" all-time leader as we are likely to have: 1,731 (estimated -- estimating 28 home runs a year, taking his current injury into account, I'm guessing around April 30, 2017, at age 41). Under 3 1/2 years -- if he can.