Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Play's the Thing: Yanks Score 6 Runs, Win

Due to a dispute between the Gregorian calendar, to which most of Europe had already switched, and the Julian calendar, still used by England, April 23, 1616, 400 years ago today, is commemorated as the day that William Shakespeare died.

Many years ago, someone tried to come up with a series of Shakespeare quotes about baseball, many of which were on the theme of "base players."

But the one that most frequently applies comes from the end of the production known, for reasons of bad luck, as "The Scottish Play." Strange, though, that the name of the character, Macbeth, can be quoted without attracting bad luck. Anyway, you know that baseball people are every bit as superstitious as theater people:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

Sounds like Shakespeare foresaw the Mets, and their fans!


Last night, at home in the opener of a series against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees were not as poetic as Shakespeare, but they did try a novel approach: They scored 6 runs, and won.

Not quite what Shakespeare meant when he said, "The play, the play's the thing," but I'll take it.

CC Sabathia, black and once a great warrior like Othello, and fat Falstaff, did not get out of the 5th inning. He left trailing 3-2, though a home run by Brian McCann (his 3rd of the young season) did keep the Yankees close.

Ivan Nova came on to finish the 5th inning, and pitched the 6th and the 7th. Dellin Betances pitched the 8th, and Andrew Miller the 9th. That's 4 1/3rd innings of perfect relief. Or, to put it another way, Joe Girardi's dream night.

The Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the 5th. Jacoby Ellsbury singled with 2 outs, was singled to 2nd by Didi Gregorius, and the runners were balked over by Rays starter Matt Moore.

Ellsbury was once hailed for his baserunning acumen. "This above all: To thine own self be true." As Moore delivered ball 4 to Brett Gardner, Ellsbury broke for home -- attempting to steal home plate with 2 strikes and 2 outs. "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt."

It worked. "What a piece of work is a man."

The last Yankee with a straight steal of home plate was Derek Jeter on May 5, 2001, just over 15 years ago.

Carlos Beltran singled to lead off the top of the 6th. Mark Teixeira singled him over. Alex Rodriguez popped up, but McCann singled Beltran home to give the Yankees the lead. Ellsbury struck again in the 8th, doubling home 2 more runs.

This gave us the final score of Yankees 6, Rays 3. WP: Nova (1-0). SV: Miller (4). LP: Moore (1-1).

There was one unfortunate note, aside from CC's shaky start: Aaron Hicks had to leave the game in the top of the 6th, with an injured shoulder.

The series continues this afternoon. Masahiro Tanaka starts for the Pinstripes, Blake Snell for the Rays, making his major league debut. Uh-oh, the proverbial "pitcher the Yankees have never seen before."

Youth is full of sport
Age's breath is short.
Youth is nimble, age is lame
Youth is hot and bold
Age is weak and cold
Youth is wild
And age is tame.

To hell with that: Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!

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