Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tragedy Mars Yankee Win Over Braves

Last night's game between the Yankees and the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field was touched by tragedy, as a fan fell out of the upper deck and died.

He's been identified are Gregory Murrey of the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta. Known as Ace, he was 60 years old, and a Braves season-ticket holder for 23 years.

He fell 40 feet from Section 402 onto concrete in Section 202. He might have been better off if he'd fallen on a fellow fan. CPR was attempted, but he never had a chance.

At last check, the authorities said there was no evidence of foul play.

According to an article on the website of the city's premier paper (which used to be 2 good papers), the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

"Right now preliminary investigation reveals there is no type of foul play but we need to wait until the medical examiner rules on the cause of death," said Atlanta police lieutenant Charles Hampton, the department's homicide commander. "We’re asking anybody who’s in the area to come forward and let us know what they saw. But we don’t believe it was anything suspicious."
The fall occurred in the top of the seventh inning, as the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez was walking to the plate amid a chorus of boos. The apparently fell off the upper deck, the 400 level of the stadium, behind the home-plate area and landed between the second and third row of seats on the first level in section 202. Fans seated in that area immediately scattered, and paramedics rushed in and did chest compressions, a form of CPR, in an attempt to revive him.
The man eventually was carried out. But there were at least two pools of blood on the concrete where he was lying. Three rows of seats were emptied and a stadium worker with a mop arrived soon after to mop up the blood.
This was the 2nd such incident at that ballpark in a little more than 2 years, and the 3rd in 7 years. Justin Hayes of Cumming, Georgia fell 4 levels during a 2008 game and died. He was 25. And on August 12, 2013, Ronald Homer Jr. of Conyers, Georgia climbed a railing and jumped off, falling 85 feet to a parking lot. He was 30, and his death was ruled a suicide.


As for the game: A rare sellout crowd of 49,243 packed into The Ted to see the Pride of the South take on "them damn Yankees." They got to see fine pitching from rookie sensation Luis Severino. He pitched 6 scoreless innings, allowing 4 hits and 3 walks, striking out 5. His career major league ERA, in 5 starts, is now 2.17. Pretty strong, although no team has yet faced him twice and been able to adjust. Still, this is encouraging.

But every pitcher needs runs. (Some fewer than others.) Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a double. After Braves starter Matt Wisler got 2 outs, he walked Brian McCann and Greg Bird (the rookie continuing to do a fine job in place of the injured Mark Teixeira) to load the bases, and then he threw a wild pitch to bring Ellsbury home with Chase Headley at the plate. (Headley struck out to end the inning.)

The Yankees clung to a 1-0 lead into the 7th, then gave Severino some insurance when the inning began with back-to-back doubles by Headley and the previous night's hero, Didi Gregorius. Matt Marksberry was brought in to relieve Wisler, and he got Stephen Drew to pop up.

Having a 2-run lead, and being in a National League ballpark with no designated hitter, Joe Girardi pinch-hit for Severino, sending up Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod was being announced as the pinch-hitter when Murrey fell. Adding to the tragedy is the oddity of A-Rod being linked with a controversy, and having nothing to do with it.

The game was held up for 10 minutes as first-responders tried to help Murrey, to no avail. A-Rod was intentionally walked, and Markberry got out of the inning with no more runs.

The Braves scored a run on Justin Wilson in the bottom of the 7th, but the Yankees got that run back in the top of the 8th, on a leadoff walk by Carlos Beltran and a double by the ex-Brave McCann, who really does like hitting at Turner Field.

This was not, however, the day to say, "Leadoff walks can kill you." Baseball is not only a game, or just a game, but it certainly isn't life and death.

Yankees 3, Braves 1. WP: Severino (2-2). SV: Andrew Miller (28). LP: Wisler (5-5).

The series continues this afternoon. Nathan Eovaldi starts against Julio Teheran.

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