"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?

If there was any fairness in the world, the Yankees would have to throw that win back. Or perhaps baseball should institute a rule whereby, when it’s called for, the umpires could just declare the game a loss for both teams. Pending such an innovation, though, tonight’s score will have to stand: Yankees 8, Mets 7, on a walk-off error.

Yep, that was one fugly baseball game. At the beginning of the night, back when we were young, Joba Chamberlain took the mound for the Yanks. He looked pretty decent the first couple of innings… and then imploded, at least as much as you can implode without giving up more than two runs. His control fled like a teenager in a slasher flick and he walked two batters, hit one, walked another, hit another, and threw more than 40 pitches just in the third. At the end of his abbreviated night he’d tossed 100 pitches in just four innings, while allowing five walks. Yeesh.

If I try to give you a detailed blow-by-blow on all the offense, I’ll be here all night, so here’s the Cliffs Notes: the Yankees went up 1-0, then the Mets took a 2-1 lead, then the Yankees came back and made it 3-2, then Brett Tomko came in — yes, that Livan Hernandez-Brett Tomko marquee matchup New Yorkers have been waiting for! — and the Mets torched him for four earned runs, including a patented Gary Sheffield blast. The Yankees clawed their way back when Jeter hit a New Stadium Special solo shot to right, and Matsui followed the next inning with a big three-run homer to make it 7-6. The Mets came right back in the seventh: 7-7, tie game.

With two outs in the eighth, Girardi brought in Mariano Rivera. Obvious  question: why couldn’t he have done this last night, when I was driving my mom up the NJ Turnpike and cursing extensively at the radio while trying to explain to her about high-leverage situations? Of course, tonight Girardi followed my advice and it didn’t work at all. Ah well. Beltran walked, Wright doubled, and the Mets took a one-run lead, again, some more.

However hapless the Yanks were tonight, though, in the end, the Mets were… uh, haplesser. In the bottom of the ninth Derek Jeter singled off of K-Rod, a nice piece of hitting, and stole second; Teixeira was intentionally walked once the count went to 3-0. The Yankees were down to their final out, though, and naturally it all came down to A-Rod – and he hit a soft little routine pop-up behind second. Game over, you had to assume, as Luis Castillo settled under it… but then Castillo… dropped it. Just like that, for no visible reason. It bounced and fell out of his glove. Huh.

It was exactly what you always hope will happen on the last out of a loss but of course it never, ever does.  Teixeira and Jeter were running hard from the start, and so they both scored, and voila: walk-off E-4.  The Yankees didn’t win this one so much as the Mets lost it, but hey, it all comes out the same in the standings.

Be sure to catch the SNY pregame show tomorrow, when Louis Castillo will be torn apart by an angry mob… that is, if the team hasn’t already sacrificed him on an altar to appease the baseball gods. (I hear the new Stadium has an amazingly luxe visitors’ altar).

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Emma Span

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1 Chyll Will   ~  Jun 13, 2009 3:41 am

The thing is, I was almost certain the Yanks would lose this game before it started. And though I was wrong about that, er, ultimately, I stand by what I said at the beginning of the game thread. Significant changes will be made on one or both sides after this series if either of them still feel they have a chance to make a run.

2 Rich   ~  Jun 13, 2009 6:37 am

[1] The Yankees clearly have a chance to make a run, however, their biggest weakness is with the decision makers, not the players.

As Ham pointed out, these players have "21 come from behind wins...and 12 wins in their final at-bat."

Yet with a payroll over $200 million, there is no way that Berroa, Tomko, and Veras should ever occupy 3 of 25 spots.

There is also no way that AJ Burnett should have received a $84 million over five years, or Marte should have received $12 million over three years. I never understood why they drafted Kennedy over Bard, given Kennedy's sub-90 mph fastball during his last season at USC.

Girardi's bullpen management has been inexplicable this season.

Fortunately, they signed Teixeira, who probably should have been their primary offseason target. He is their best free agent signing since Mussina, if not Reggie. But for him, there would be no reason to talk about a run.

3 RIYank   ~  Jun 13, 2009 7:01 am

It's true, Emma, the Mets were haplesser. They weren't merely hapless, they were utterly hap-free.

I have to add this tidbit from the Michael Kay. He's doing color on the replay of the walk-off, and he says,

A-Rod thinks he's ended the game. The fans think the game is ended. Castillo thinks the game is ended... but no!

Well, actually Michael, yes. He did end the game. Not the way he'd thought he had, of course. But Kay loves the phrase so much he doesn't notice it's nonsense. After Kim's interview, he says it again!

If I can quote the late great Jack Buck, "I don't believe what I just saw." Alex Rodriguez thinks he ended the game... but he'd only just begun.

He'd only just begun. Yeah. Somehow that doesn't evoke Jack Buck for me. Would you settle for Joe Buck?

4 The Mick536   ~  Jun 13, 2009 7:59 am

Fugly. I will use it.

The analysis befitted the best of cynical writing that I have ever read. You should replace Tyler Kepner, except fewer readers would probably follow you.

As for the game ending shot by A-Rod, will people speculate some improper connection between the batter and the fielder? Get out the subpoenaes. I checked out the pictures on ESPN.com. Why the joy?

Great clutch blooper from A-Rod. He is heading towards Mendoza territory. Has to be hurt. I got to be making excuses for him. Dreading the next decade if this is the beginning of his decline. Give him eye drops.

5 Bum Rush   ~  Jun 13, 2009 8:58 am

@ 2

I would hold Girardi accountable for the bullpen management, if they had a bullpen to speak of.

Pinch hitting for Swisher but not Gardner though is pretty dumb.

6 RIYank   ~  Jun 13, 2009 9:15 am

I think the point of pinch hitting for Swisher but not Gardner was that he was imagining if Gardy got on from the lead-off spot, his legs would give him the better chance of scoring the tying run. This was not the right way to look at it -- but that's my guess about how Girardi was thinking.
Hm, another possibility: Damon would feel more 'comfortable' pinch hitting for Swisher because it was the Two slot? Behind Jeter?

7 Raf   ~  Jun 13, 2009 9:16 am

I never understood why they drafted Kennedy over Bard, given Kennedy’s sub-90 mph fastball during his last season at USC.

Velocity isn't the be-all end-all.

8 Bum Rush   ~  Jun 13, 2009 9:17 am

I was too busy watching perhaps the greatest game in NHL history to care too much about last night. There's no doubt any more. The NHL (especially in HD because you can see the puck) is far more exciting and interesting today than the NBA. Fluery's stop with 1 second left was insane. I think the NHL is my new favorite sport with a clock.

9 Bum Rush   ~  Jun 13, 2009 9:19 am

@ 6

Good point about Gardner. Perhaps he was also wanting a runner on with Damon up at home? A quick jack, Mo to hopefully close, and game over.

10 Raf   ~  Jun 13, 2009 9:20 am

[8] For the most part, I'd have to agree. If the NBA would let the players play and not blow a whistle every time a player gets breathed on... Having said that, the Bulls-Celtics series was epic, and was probably the best postseason series so far, finals included.

11 Raf   ~  Jun 13, 2009 9:22 am

@ 9

But if Girardi's hoping for a quick jack, why not leave Swisher in there?

12 seamus   ~  Jun 13, 2009 9:27 am

[10] isn't that what they do now in the playoffs anyhow? I kind of hate how the NBA suddenly becomes a no rules zone in the playoffs and winning becomes more about who is the better at breaking the rules then the better team at playing by the rules.

All I can say about last nights game is "wooh!" But, can I just say that I've never seen more dropped balls than I have this year. Swisher at Yankee Stadium, Damon twice (once a couple of weeks back and the ball at Fenway), Castillo. Are there others? Is something up? or down? up then down?

13 Bum Rush   ~  Jun 13, 2009 9:35 am

@ 11

I don't know. Just that Damon is more likely to pull one down the line (12 home homers vs. 3 for Swish)?

14 Bum Rush   ~  Jun 13, 2009 9:38 am

@ 12

Because baseball is year round for me, I only watch the NBA playoffs. Except now they're unwatchable.

The NHL playoffs are insanely watchable. I can't believe they've struggling. One reason the founding fathers were smart to know that kings fail miserably. Bettman has failed miserably.

15 The Hawk   ~  Jun 13, 2009 10:17 am

[3] I'm not one to to unduly defend Michael Kay, but technically he's right. The game would have been over once the ball was safely in Castillo's glove. When he dropped it, play continued - Teixeira wasn't yet home; he even made a throw to the plate - too late but not unrealistic.

16 The Hawk   ~  Jun 13, 2009 10:25 am

[15] Correction, apparently he threw to second, for some reason. Anyway the point remains.

17 RIYank   ~  Jun 13, 2009 10:27 am

[15] [16]

So, you think that A-Rod would have "ended the game" if Castillo had made the catch, but in fact did not end the game? That's how it would have to work for Kay to be "technically" right. But it's nonsense.

When the pop fly reaches its apex and "the fans think the game is ended," you think they would have been right if Castillo had caught the ball, but they were wrong because he dropped it and Teixeira didn't score until 4 seconds later? I think that's also nonsense.

(He threw to second, I believe, because he was on his knees and couldn't throw all the way home.)

18 The Hawk   ~  Jun 13, 2009 10:38 am

[17] Ohh I get it, you are being a semantic tight-ass about some gently hyperbolic sports talk ; )

For you, if instead of saying "thinks he ended the game", he'd said "assumes he's ended the game", it would be okay? Because it's certainly fair to assume that ball is going to be caught. Hence, all the uproar that it wasn't.

19 PJ   ~  Jun 13, 2009 10:40 am

[0] [3] Just think guys, sometime between now and late tomorrow night, we'll discover who is the er um, happlessest of them all!

I can hardly contain myself...

*rolls eyes*

20 Mattpat11   ~  Jun 13, 2009 10:41 am

I was there for that whole mess. I actually missed Castillo dropping the ball because I had thrown my head up in disgust. Then my father screamed HE DROPPED IT and I almost lost mt mind watching Tex cross the plate. Certainly a game to remember.

21 PJ   ~  Jun 13, 2009 11:10 am

[20] "Certainly a game to remember."

Oh, I'm certain that's one F-Rod will never forget! "Back in the day," you know when baseball could actually be played, Kennedy from the Angels would have had that one...

Maybe next time he'll actually wait for the last out to be made before beginning his now-tiresome "Look one and all, including those living somewhere in the sky, I got a save! What a man I am!" victory ritual!

I would feel financially violated for actually paying to attend such a game in person Mattpat, even in the cheap bleacher seats!

I would not hesitate for a second to pay $2500 per seat to watch the "Murderers Row" or Yogi's "Five Straight Titles" Yankees play baseball again! Sooner than we think, it's going to take the Yankees to pay me $2500 per game to even consider watching them...

It's cheaper and infinitely more entertaining to watch elephants and an actual "horse shit" within the three rings while attending the real circus! At least they know how to clean that up quickly and you can get "production" for your entertainment dollars!

: )

22 RIYank   ~  Jun 13, 2009 11:18 am

[18] Semantic tight-ass is whoever says "Well, technically he's right..." Who was that again?

No, it has nothing to do with "thinks" vs. "assumes", or being hyperbolic. It's that A-Rod did end the game! And Kay, instead of realizing that what he'd said made no sense, loved the way it sounded so much that he said it again, adding a new, even more nonsensical twist: "... but he'd only just begun."

23 FlyGirlFan   ~  Jun 13, 2009 11:37 am

Thanks for the succinct synopsis of the game Emma. It was so "fugly" that I gave up and stopped watching in the 6th. Leaving for the Stadium in about an hour or so for Round Two . . . lets hope its prettier.

24 The Hawk   ~  Jun 13, 2009 12:10 pm

[22] I'll just accept that you are operating on a higher level than me and move on.

Moving on - Chamberlain was a complete joke last night.

25 Chyll Will   ~  Jun 13, 2009 12:16 pm

[18],[22] [[[ VERBAL KOMBAT!!!! ]]]

(sorry... >;)

26 Raf   ~  Jun 13, 2009 12:29 pm

[24] Yes, far too many breaking pitches

27 The Hawk   ~  Jun 13, 2009 1:09 pm

[26] And too many of those out of the zone. How many times did he miss coming low and inside to lefties with the slider? Tons.

Also, I don't know what the hell Jorge was doing out there but he needs to make it work somehow. He's the veteran and should be able to figure out how to handle the situation. Being stubborn is one thing but there was obviously tension last night and it's up to him to be diplomatic. I feel like he's getting more and more difficult as he gets older.

28 Rich   ~  Jun 13, 2009 1:21 pm

[7] Velocity isn’t the be-all end-all.

I don't believe in drafting players without big fastballs that high.

Cashman himself was quoted in the NY Post this week as saying:

"Players with tools, tools scouting rather than performance scouting," Cashman said. "Going aggressively after the difficult signs. ... It's really just keeping it simple. Going after players with big tools. Big tools hopefully lead to championships

When it comes to pitchers, a big fastball is the #1 tool.

It was a very misguided decision by Oppenheimer, and the Yankees are paying for it in a big way.

29 The Hawk   ~  Jun 13, 2009 1:59 pm

"NEW YORK(AP) Alex Rodriguez slammed his bat and then threw it. The first Subway Series game at new Yankee Stadium was over.

And then it wasn't."

More grist for RIYank's mill ... Always looking out for ya, buddy - have at it!

30 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Jun 13, 2009 2:02 pm

You're right, Emma, that was one very, very fine piece of hitting by Derek. I was really amazed that he hit that pitch, let alone with any kind of authority.

And it speaks to the larger issue in the game, which is that such hitting is really a lost art, so much so that when it happens, it looks downright goofy.

I maintain, though, that if every player integrated that skill into his game, home run hitters included, we'd have a much, much richer game to watch.

I know, I know, pizza doesn't cost $.75 anymore, either.

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