Tuesday, May 9, 2017

How Long It's Been: The Yankees Won a Game Going At Least 16 Innings

This past Sunday night, the Yankees beat the Chicago Cubs, 5-4 in 18 innings at Wrigley Field.

As the innings went by, I remembered that the Yankees had lost a lot of games in extra innings the last few years, due to poor hitting and Joe Girardi's bullpen mismanagement. To be fair, last night's game was a masterclass by Girardi.

But I looked it up: When was the last time the Yankees won a game that went at least 13 innings? At least 14? 15? And so on.

The last time the Yankees won a game going at least 16 innings was on June 1, 2003, at Comerica Park in Detroit, 10-9 over the Detroit Tigers, in 17 innings. Roger Clemens started, going for his 300th career win, and he didn't pitch well, but he did leave after 6 innings with an 8-6 lead.

But Sterling Hitchcock, trade bait for Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson, was in his 2nd go-round with the Yankees, and Antonio Osuna imploded in the 7th inning. Chris Hammond pitched a scoreless 8th. Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless 9th and 10th, And then Joe Torre brought in... David Wells, also in his 2nd go-round with us. He started the 11th, and was still on the mound when the bottom of the 17th began.

Alfonso Soriano and Jorge Posada both took Steve Sparks deep in the top of the 17th, making it 10-8 Yankees. But Wells finally tired, allowing a single to Bobby Higginson and a double to Eric Munson (no relation to Thurman), and it was 10-9. Torre had to bring Juan Acevedo on to nail down the final out.

June 1, 2003. That's nearly 14 full years ago. How long has that been? Has the world really changed that much?


Bartolo Colon. Carlos Beltran. CC Sabathia. Albert Pujols. Ichiro Suzuki. R.A. Dickey. Jason Grilli. Joaquin Benoit. Fernando Rodney. As far as I can tell, those 9 men (no, you can't count CC or Colon twice due to their being fat) are the only players active in 2003 who are still active today. (Joe Nathan is at Triple-A for the Washington Nationals, and could be added to this list.)

The Yankees, the Mets, the Atlanta Braves, the Miami Marlins (then known as the Florida Marlins), the Minnesota Twins, the Montreal Expos, the Philadelphia Phillies, the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres have all since moved into new ballparks -- in the case of the Expos, who became the Washington Nationals and moved into a stopgap facility while a new ballpark was built, twice. The only New York Tri-State Area teams that are still playing in the same building that they used 14 years ago are the teams playing in Madison Square Garden: The Knicks, the Rangers and the Liberty.

Joe Girardi, now the Yankee manager, was playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. Terry Collins of the Mets was managing in the Los Angeles Dodgers' minor-league system. The Jets' Todd Bowles was coaching the defensive backs for the Cleveland Browns. Alain Vigneault of the Rangers was coaching the PEI Rocket on Canada's Prince Edward Island. The Giants' Ben McAdoo was an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh. The Devils' John Hynes was an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin. The Knicks' Jeff Hornacek was retired from playing basketball and out of the sport, choosing to live on his player's pension while he spent time with his family. The Islanders' Doug Weight was playing for the St. Louis Blues. And the Nets' Kenny Atkinson was playing in Germany's basketball league.

Of the 9 "major league" teams in the Tri-State Area, only 2 of the managers/head coaches of 2003 are currently actively coaching. Peter Laviolette of the Islanders is the head coach of the Nashville Predators; he's now got them to within 8 wins of the achievement he got with the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes: The Stanley Cup. And it was jarring to see the Islander legend Bryan Trottier as head coach of the Rangers then, and he's an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres now.

Out of coaching are Joe Torre of the Yankees, Art Howe of the Mets, Jim Fassel of the Giants, Herman Edwards of the Jets, Don Chaney of the Knicks, Byron Scott of the Nets, and Pat Burns of the Devils. (Burns has died, while the others, theoretically, could return.)

The defending World Champions were the Anaheim Angels (as the team was then known) in baseball, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in football (yes, it happened once), the Los Angeles Lakers in basketball and the Detroit Red Wings in hockey -- although the San Antonio Spurs were about to take the NBA title by beating the New Jersey Nets in the Finals, and the New Jersey Devils were about to win the Stanley Cup by beating the team then officially named the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. So there was a chance, although it didn't happen, that either East Rutherford, New Jersey or Anaheim, California could be the center of the sports world.

Manchester United was champion of England's Premier League, and Arsenal had just won the FA Cup. The World Cup has since been held in Germany and South Africa. The Olympics have since been held in Greece, Italy, China, Canada, Britain and Russia. Both have since been held in Brazil.

The Giants had not won the World Series since moving to San Francisco. The Boston Red Sox had not won the Pennant since 1986 or the World Series since 1918. The Chicago White Sox had not won the Pennant since 1959 or the World Series since 1917. The Chicago Cubs had not won the Pennant since 1945 or the World Series since 1908. The Expos were still in Montreal. Those things were all true on June 1, 2003. None of them is true any longer.

Baseball legends Larry Doby, Warren Spahn, Al Lopez and Buck O'Neil were still alive. Miguel Cabrera was 19 days away from making his major league debut. David Wright, Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez were in Class A. Justin Verlander and Alex Gordon were in college. Max Scherzer, Daniel Murphy, Andrew McCutchen Buster Posey and Clayton Kershaw were in high school. Matt Harvey was 14 -- and, apparently, has not matured since. Madison Bumgarner was 13. Mike Trout, Kris Bryant and Aaron Judge were 11. Bryce Harper and Gary Sanchez were 10. Carlos Correa was 8. Julio Urias was 6.

George W. Bush was President. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were still alive, and so were George and Barbara Bush, and Bill and Hillary Clinton, and they still are. Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Gerald and Betty Ford, and Lady Bird Johnson were also still alive.

Barack Obama was a U.S. Senator. Mike Pence had just begun his 2nd term in Congress; Paul Ryan, his 3rd. The idea that Donald Trump could not only get elected to the office, but could actually do the job, was insane. (Well, his doing the job remains insane.) The idea a candidate for President could insult women, nonwhites, non-Christians and the handicapped, insult his primary opponents to their faces, tell his opponent to her face that he's going to put her in jail, and outright call for the assassination of his opponent -- three times -- and not only not be shamed out of the race, but come close enough to winning for hackers to fix the election for him, was impossible to accept.

It happened. It is still impossible to accept.

The Governor of the State of New York was George Pataki, and of New Jersey, Jim McGreevey. The Mayor of the City of New York was Mike Bloomberg. Andrew Cuomo was in private law practice, Chris Christie was a U.S. Attorney, and Bill de Blasio was on the City Council. Four Justices then on the U.S. Supreme Court are still on it: Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Gay marriage was not legal anywhere in America, although some States had laws that offered the protections of marriage to registered "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships."

The aforementioned former President Carter was the current holder of the Nobel Peace Prize. The Pope was John Paul II. The Prime Minister of Canada was Jean Chretien, and of Britain, Tony Blair. Queen Elizabeth II was the monarch -- despite recent rumors, that still hasn't changed. There were still living veterans of World War I and the Russian Civil War.

Major novels of 2003 included Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, Zoe Heller's Notes on a Scandal, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island, Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, Christopher Paolini's Eragon, Nick Sagan's Idlewild, and the 5th book in J.K. Rowling's series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. George R.R. Martin had published the 1st 3 books in his A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Major films released in the Spring of 2003 included What a Girl Wants, Anger Management, A Mighty Wind, X2, Daddy Day Care, The Matrix Reloaded, Down With Love, Bruce Almighty, Finding Nemo, The Whale Rider, the disastrous Ang Lee version of Hulk, the Mark Wahlberg remake of The Italian Job, and It Runs In the Family, starring 3 generations of the Douglas acting family, but not Michael's wife Catherine Zeta-Jones).

That's So Raven, Chappelle's Show, Mythbusters, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Da Ali G Show and America's Next Top Model had recently premiered. Reno 911!, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Nip/Tuck soon would. Oz, Farscape, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Touched by an Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek had all recently aired their last first-run episodes.

The Number 1 song in America was "21 Questions" by 50 Cent, featuring Nate Dogg. If that was bad, it was a damn sight better than the song it replaced at the top: "Get Busy," by Sean Paul, the most monotonous singer in human history. And the one that replaced wasn't much better: 50 Cent's "In da Club." Beyonce was about to release Dangerously In Love. Paul McCartney played Red Square in Moscow.

A U.S. postage stamp was 37 cents. A subway ride in New York was $2.00. The average prices of a gallon of gas was $1.39, a cup of coffee $2.10, a McDonald's meal $5.48, a movie ticket $6.08, a new car $22, 967, and a new house $246,300. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the preceding Friday at 8,850.26.

Skype and MySpace debuted, but, as yet, there was no Facebook, no YouTube, no Twitter, no Tumblr, no iPhone, no Pinterest, no Instagram, no iPad, no Vine. Most mobile phones were still of the flip-open variety.

Robert Kardashian Sr. was still alive, and none of his children were yet famous. Nor was Kanye West. Caitlin Jenner was still Bruce Jenner, and was still a Kardashian. The Duggar family was still regarded as good Christians. Bill Cosby was still considered a good person.

Lady Gaga, Richard Madden, Drake, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Rose Leslie, Rihanna and Emma Stone were still in high school. Sarah Hyland was 12 years old. Louis Tomlinson and Jack Gleeson were 11. Nicki Minaj and Zayn Malik were 10. Ariana Grande, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Harry Styles and Justin Bieber were 9. Sophie Turner and Abigail Breslin were 7. Maisie Williams was 6. Dean-Charles Chapman and Ariel Winter were 5. Rico Rodriguez and Nolan Gould were 4.

In the Spring of 2003, George W. Bush invaded Iraq, causing a disaster for which the world is still paying. The Second Congo War was brought to an end with a peace treaty. Hungary, Slovenia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic -- in that order -- held referenda in which their people voted to allow them to join the European Union. The Human Genome Project was completed. A horse and a deer were each successfully cloned for the 1st time. And soccer player Marc-Vivien Foe suffered a heart attack and died while playing for Cameroon against Colombia in the Confederations Cup Semifinal in Lyon, France. He was only 28 years old.

Strom Thurmond, and Gregory Peck, and Katharine Hepburn died. Hardly anybody yet famous was born yet in 2003, but Willow Smith was 2 1/2 years old, and Mo'ne Davis was about to turn 2.

June 1, 2003. The Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers 10-9 in 17 innings. They did not win another game of at least 16 innings in length until this past Sunday night.

Let's hope they don't have to do it again for a while, huh?

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