"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Two For the Road

The Yankees beat the Padres 3-2, in a taut game on Saturday afternoon and then won again in dramatic fashion on Sunday, 6-5 in twelve innings. As I mentioned in my previous post, I didn’t watch Saturday’s game. I was hanging, talking baseball with the likes of Mike Carminati, Jay Jaffe and Alex Ciepley. When the BP/PB book talk was over, and a group of guys headed east on 42nd street to find a place to eat, Steve Goldman informed Cliff Corcoran and me that the Yanks had won. A block later, we spotted the scores on the hood of a taxi cab. Not only had the Yankees won, but the Dodgers beat the snot out of the Red Sox to boot.

I did cave in and ask Em to tape the game however. And when I got home late Saturday night, I watched the good parts. Gary Sheffield had the game-winning hit, and the Yankees made several good defensive plays which proved to be the difference. Jon Lieber gave up a ton of hits, but managed to work out of trouble all day long.

I headed out to the Stadium just before noon on Sunday afternoon. On the subway, I encountered a brood on their way down to the Puerto Rican day parade. I wished them a good time and was met with indifference. But I made eye-contact with a boy, wearing a tank-top with a Puerto Rican flag on it, and said “What’s up?” We talked baseball until I had to transfer. The kid’s name was Michael. He’s ten years old and has been to three Yankee games in his life. I shared with him how much I love the Yanks, and showed him my scorebook. We had a great chat, no matter how unfriendly the rest of his family was.

As I was waiting on the 145th street platform to catch the D train, I spotted a pair of Japanese guys and couldn’t resist approaching them. The guys were a few years older than me, and have followed Hideki Matsui since he was in high school. This was their first trip to Yankee stadium. Well, that was all I had to hear, and I proceeded to give them my 20-minute introduction to the stadium, the team, and everything New York. Both guys spoke English well, and I happily played host.

It was a warm day in the Bronx, but by the middle of the afternoon, it was mercifully overcast and breezy. Jay Jaffe and I watched the game together. Both David Wells and Javier Vazquez were both excellent. Wells pitched seven innings and left with a 2-0 lead. Actually, the Yankees were down to their last out before they made it a contest. Trevor Hoffman, the Padres’ great closer, had retired the first two men in the bottom of the ninth. Then Godziller Matsui hit a bomb deep into the right-field bleachers. Kenny Lofton then pinch-hit for Tony Clark. I wasn’t ready to get too excited yet. “He’s got to hit a home run,” is what I was thinking. And on a 2-1 pitch, he did just that; a line drive into the right field seats.

Good gosh, is this team charmed or what? The Padres came back and touched Brett Prinz (who pitched out of a jam on Saturday) and Felix Heredia for three runs in the top of the 12th. Have no fear though. The Yanks put together an assembly-line rally in the bottom of the frame and scored four runs to steal the victory. Fittingly, Boriqua Ruben Sierra had the game-winning RBI. Jay and I were exhausted and elated. Oh, and Alex Rodriguez has now reached base in 50 straight games.

For a look at the San Diego side of things, head on over to Duck Snorts for the skinny.

The Red Sox beat L.A. last night to remain three-and-a-half back. These were two crucial victories for the Yanks, as they head to Arizona and Los Angeles this week with a patchwork pitching staff. Tanyon Sturtze and Jose Contreras will pitch in Arizona and a mystery pitcher will get a turn in L.A. In addition, Mariano Rivera was unavailable yesterday due to tightness in his back. He expects to be fine on Tuesday night.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver