Thursday, September 11, 2014

Yanks Come Roaring Back On 9/11 Eve

It's difficult to have, and more difficult to generate, good feelings on September 11, especially as close as I am to New York City.

That day, I could stand on an overpass over the New Jersey Turnpike, and see the plume of black smoke rising from where the World Trade Center stood, and see it trail off into the distance, seemingly forever.

Between the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, a  total of 2,977 victims died -- which now includes people who died from lung illnesses from breathing the toxic air at the rescue site.

The New York Tri-State Area's sports teams rallied around their community. Yankee center fielder Bernie Williams saw one woman at a relief station and said he didn't know exactly what was wrong, but she looked like she needed a hug.

A one-week delay was exactly what was needed. After that, we needed something to take our minds off the constant bombardment of images of destruction and death. We needed to be uplifted, and we were. While new games were not a priority, the people in these organizations proved that it is never "only a game."

*

That said, the Yankees did have a remarkable win last night, which provides some good feelings.

It didn't look likely. Chris Capuano was tagged for 4 runs by the Tampa Bay Rays, and Joe Girardi lifted him before he could even get a 2nd out. Chase Whitley pitched through the 3rd inning, Preston Claiborne the 4th and the 5th, Adam Warren got through the 6th and the 1st 2 outs of the 7th, Dellin Betances finished the 7th and the 8th, and Esmil Rogers pitched the 9th.

Between them, they allowed 1 run on 7 hits and 3 walks in 8 2/3 innings. And if you get that from their starter, we would have been thrilled.

Of course, if the situation were fully reversed, then our closer would have allowed 4 runs in 1/3 of an inning.

Down 4-0 before we even came to bat, the situation looked grim. But Brian McCann hit a home run in the bottom of the 1st, his 18th of the season. He then singled home 2 runs in the 3rd, to make it 4-3 Tampa Bay. (This got his batting average up to .242.) Chris Young, whom we picked up last month as a free agent after the Mets dumped him, homered in the 4th, his 1st home run as a Yankee, his 9th overall this season. Tie ballgame.

The Yankees picked up 2 runs in the 5th, and 2 more in the 8th; RBI hits by Mark Teixeira, Chase Headley, Ichiro Suzuki, and... oh to be... Young again. 8-4.

Rogers allowed a home run to Evan Longoria in the 9th, but that was as close as the Rays got. Yankees 8, Rays 5.

WP: Claiborne (3-0), as he was the pitcher when the Yankees took the lead. No save, as Rogers had a 4-run lead when he entered the game as (as it turned out) the final Yankee pitcher. LP: Jake Odorizzi (10-12).

With 19 games left to play, the Yankees are 4 1/2 games behind the Detroit Tigers for the 2nd American League Wild Card berth.

The series concludes tonight, with Michael Pineda starting against Alex Cobb. The Mets will also be at home tonight, playing the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.

There's usually a few days a season when both teams are at home -- not counting Interleague games against each other, of course -- but this is the first time since the attack that both teams have been scheduled to play at home on a September 11. Either one or the other has played in The City on every September 11 since 2001, except in 2008. But this is only the 2nd time since the new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009 that the Yankees have been scheduled at home on the day.

Both teams will have special pregame ceremonies tonight.

*

Hours until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 27, tomorrow night, away to Piscataway, a team we haven't beaten in 24 years. No, that's not a typo: Twenty-four years, nearly a quarter of a century. I had previously thought they were playing a week ago, a Thursday night, but that was a scrimmage, a preseason game.

Days until Arsenal play again: 2, this Saturday, 7:45 in the morning our time, home to Manchester City. The Gunners beat the Citizens 3-0 in the preseason Community Shield, the annual season lidlifter between the defending Premier League Champions (City) and the holders of the FA Cup (Arsenal). But neither side was exactly fielding its preferred starting lineup, and Arsenal have serious injury issues, and both teams struggled in their last League game. We'll see.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 2, Saturday afternoon, at 3:00 PM, away to the Philadelphia Union, at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. Last night, they beat arch-rival D.C. United 1-0 on a 90th-minute goal by the usually useless Lloyd Sam. The Playoff race is heating up, and Metro really needed that goal to get those 3 points.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": The previous answer is the last one for this season, barring a Playoff matchup.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 2, this Saturday at 8:00 PM, in their Big Ten Conference debut, home to old enemy Penn State. BEAT THE SCUM!

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season home game (barring injury): 14, on Thursday, September 25, against the Baltimore Orioles. Just 2 weeks, and (in all probability, and not counting Old-Timers' Games) Derek Jeter will never play at Yankee Stadium again.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 15, on Friday, September 26, at 7:00 PM, at Fenway Park. It is the last series of the regular season, and will be Derek Jeter's last series against the Sox -- and probably his last against anybody.

Days until the next North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham: 17, on Sunday, September 28, at the Emirates Stadium.

Days until Derek Jeter's last regular-season game (barring injury): 17, on Sunday, September 28, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Days until the Devils play again: 28. They open on Thursday, October 9, away to the Philadelphia Flyers. Just 4 weeks. They once again get screwed by Commissioner Gary Bettman and his schedulemakers, this time having to play 4 road games before their home opener, on Saturday, October 18, at 7:00 PM, vs. the San Jose Sharks.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: See the previous answer. The first game against The Scum is Tuesday night, October 21, at the Prudential Center. The first game against the Islanders is Saturday night, November 29, at the Nassau Coliseum. The Devils' last trip to Uniondale, before the Isles move to Brooklyn, is Monday night, December 15.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 29, on Friday, October 10, at 7:00 PM, a friendly, home to Ecuador, at Rentschler Field in Hartford, Connecticut. Under a month. The following Tuesday, they will play another Latin American team, Honduras, in a friendly at Florida Atlantic University's stadium in Boca Raton, Florida. There will be one more match in the calendar year, another friendly, against the Republic of Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin (built on the site of their former home, Lansdowne Road), on Tuesday afternoon (evening, local time), November 18.

Days until Game 7 of the 2014 World Series -- the absolute latest you can ever again see Derek Jeter in a competitive game: 48, on Wednesday, October 29. Under 7 weeks, and no more Jeter -- not as an active player, anyway.

Days until the next East Brunswick vs. Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 77, on Thursday morning, November 27, at 10:00 AM. Only 11 weeks.

Days until New York City FC make their Major League Soccer debut: Unknown, but a new MLS season usually begins on the 2nd Saturday in March, which would be March 14, 2015. That's 184 days. A little over 6 months. Whether it will be a home game, and thus at the new Yankee Stadium, is yet to be determined.

Days until Alex Rodriguez is eligible to play for the Yankees again: 202 -- presuming, that is, that 2015's Opening Day is on April 1, and wouldn't it just work out that way, that A-Rod is again allowed to play a regular-season game for the Yankees on April Fool's Day? Anyway, that's under 7 months.

Days until the New York Islanders' last game at the Nassau Coliseum: 212, on April 11, 2015, at 7:00 PM, against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Exactly 7 months.

Days until the Islanders' first home game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn: Unknown, but an NHL regular season usually begins on the 1st Friday in October, which would be October 2, 2015. That's 387 days. That's under 13 months. Or, to put it another way, "387 Sleeps Till Brooklyn." Until then, even with their 4 straight long-ago Stanley Cups, they're just a Small Club In Hempstead.

Days until Euro 2016 begins in France: 639, on Friday, June 10. Under 21 months.

Days until the next Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 696, on Friday, August 5, 2016. Under 23 months.

Days until the next World Cup begins in Russia: 1,369, on Friday June 8, 2018. Under 4 years.

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