"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Umpire State of Mind

I don’t always hate umpire schtick. The emphatic punch-out is part of the style, intensity and enthusiasm of Major League Baseball and these guys are integral to the game’s personality. I also don’t expect them to get every call correct. If they’re hustling, in the right position, and trying to be consistent I don’t get worked up about it. But when a home plate umpire spends an entire game preening and posing, but can’t be bothered to pay attention to the strike zone, it ruffles the feathers. And in rare cases, when umpire buffoonery repeatedly alters the scoreboard, I’m steamed.

Tonight, in the second inning, home-plate-umpire Dale Scott took a run away from the Yanks and second-base ump Alfonso Marquez added one to the Rangers side of the ledger. With bases loaded, Brett Gardner took what should have been ball four to drive in the first run. The pitch was not close, being low and outside (looking at Gameday, and then watching the pitch again on TV reminds me to take Gameday’s location with a grain of salt) and Gardner was noticeably peeved. He swung through strike three to end the threat.

In the bottom of the inning, Kinsler reached on a check swing dribbler in front of Cano. He attempted to steal second later in the at-bat, but Cervelli got a great pitch to throw on and drilled a dart to Derek (his best throw in recent memory) for the easy out. Or so thought everyone other than Marquez. Kinsler pulled back his lead hand and lurched into second base as Jeter swiped the tag across his fingers, chest and face. After watching it several times in replay, there was no angle which definitively showed a tag or a non-tag, but I firmly believe that some part of Jeter’s glove touched some part of Kinsler. Marquez definitely did not have a good idea either way, but decided that even though the throw beat Kinsler by five feet, he would call him safe. The Rangers bunted Kinsler to third and scored him on a ground out.

Jeter was shocked. Cervelli was confused. Vazquez, I’m sure was frustrated. Girardi was pissed. After railing against Marquez he turned to Scott to argue the strike zone. That’s reason for ejection, but Scott gave him a long leash and Girardi decided not to push it any further. The bad umpiring changed a 1-0 lead into a 0-1 hole, but the Yankees got fired up for a few innings after that and ran CJ Wilson out of the game early. Arod hit a big two-run double and Thames and Cervelli followed with two-out run-scoring singles. At 4-1 the Yankees had a nice lead but it would have been much more comfortable at 5-0. Especially with Javy Vazquez on the mound.

Actually, Vazquez was fine. Not good exactly, but adequate. He had bad luck with defense, bloopers, and the bad call. He impressed most when in the most trouble. With bases loaded in the fourth, a jam of his own making, he induced a grounder down the first base line that I’m sure most of us thought was easy pudding for Teixeira. I don’t know if he got a bad first step or missed the ball off the bat or if it just skidded through faster than it appeared off the bat, but Teix was nowhere near it. Vazquez got mad.

Clinging to a 4-3 lead with the go-ahead runs on second and third with only one out, he went after Andrus and Young with his best stuff of the night. He blew a fastball by Young that made me reach for the remote. It had run; it had pop; it had life. Young’s swing was closer to the next pitch than it was to the one already nestled in Cervelli’s mitt. I watched it several times. Man, if he had that all year, or even for the rest of the year, that would be something.

The game became a uncomfortable slog after that. Tense, because the score was so unnecessarily close, and absurd, because the expanded rosters allowed Ron Washington to run through pitchers like sunflower seeds. The Yankees refused to get another big hit after the third, stranding 18 runners, but the bullpen held the line until the eighth. Then Joba Chamberlain came in, threw one pitch to the most dangerous hitter in the current Rangers lineup, and Cruz lambasted the limp, soggy breaking ball into the left-field seats to tie the game. Thought the pitch selection was different, I could not help but think of Pedro Feliz.

Moving into extra innings, the Rangers were sacrificing short relievers like the Sauron and Saruman churned out Orcs for the siege of Helm’s Deep. The Yankees responded by summoning their ancient wizard and got two innings out of Mariano Rivera for the first time since June 27th. (The Rangers used ten pitchers to get through 11 innings. Do that as the manager in an All Star Game and you’ll go down in history for screwing up the National Pastime. But somehow it’s permissible in the heat of a Pennant Race.)

The Yankees maneuvered themselves into a scoring chance in the 12th, but in a way that almost guaranteed they wouldn’t score. After a fortuitous leadoff double by Moehler, Girardi asked Gardner to sacrifice bunt. Playing for one run there is understandable, but you have to have the personnel to execute. In this case, they needed a fly ball from Derek Jeter. That ain’t happening. Not only is he the most prolific ground ball machine in baseball, he’s so lost right now, he only gets hits by accident. The better play there was to let Gardner hit away. He could move the runner with anything to the right side anyway, and he was the only one of the next three batters (along with Jeter and Curtis) who had a chance to get a hit.

They did it again in the 13th, with Posada needing the fly ball to score Arod. He came up with a soft liner to second. They loaded the bases with two outs, but Moehler couldn’t work the walk and flew out to center.

Headed into the bottom 13th, I think every Yankee fan who was still watching was thinking, “If they can get past Cruz without letting up a homer, they had a chance for another inning.” Gaudin couldn’t get past Cruz. The Yankees lost 6-5. So many ways to win this game. Competent umpiring would have ended the game in regulation. One hit or well-timed fly ball would have won it in extras. Crapola.

I’m 7 up and 10 down as a recapper for a possible 100 win team. I’m not even Javy Vazquez on this staff, I’m AJ Burnett.


Watching the scoreboard was fun for awhile. The Rays jumped all over Toronto 8-1, but the Boom Jays knotted it up at eight with a barrage of homers. (Can you give a nickname to a fourth place team?) But then the fun went to bed and the Rays won it in the ninth. That would have been a sweet loss to pin on those guys, but the Rays are tough and didn’t cave after the near collapse. Both teams blew leads, the Rays toughed out the win, the Yanks did not. Hope that’s the last time that happens this year.

Categories:  Baseball  Game Recap  Games We Play  Jon DeRosa  Yankees

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1 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 11, 2010 1:47 am

Fine might be too kind to Javy. Unless we're grading on a curve or something.

Please tell me Burnett isn't pitching tomorrow. I don't have the energy for that.

2 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 11, 2010 1:50 am

[1] Yeah, def on a curve. Just that he wasn't hit hard and had guts when the lead got down to 1 run. That was better than usual.

3 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 11, 2010 1:52 am

[2] I don't know. The whole time I was watching I thought "well, this is basically the regular Javy start" minus the soaring homers, i suppose.

4 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 11, 2010 1:55 am

[1] Wild horses couldn't drag my corpse in front of tv to watch AJ tomorrow.

My blood pressure needs to reset. No fucking way I am having anything to do with the game tomorrow.

They're on their own. Not only is the frustration index off the charts right now, but watching Derek Jeter is something way beyond frustrating - it's profoundly depressing.

For anyone in my age range (late thirties), watching Jeter is like having someone scream "DEATH! DEATH! WE'RE ALL GONNA FUCKING DIE EVENTUALLY! YOU KNOW THAT, RIGHT?" in an endless loop, from varied and hallucinogenic angles darting all about my head.

And that is practically the definition of "not relaxing."

5 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 11, 2010 1:56 am

[3] I was catching up on DVR, but I only thought there was one hard hit ball off him all night - the Moreland double. Did I miss any?

He was walking people, hitting people, letting up runs, yeah, but usually there are big hits in there too. This time, he managed to stay in the park. I think that's a big deal for him, turning him into an avg pitcher who has some use for the yanks.

6 thelarmis   ~  Sep 11, 2010 1:59 am

"Moving into extra innings, the Rangers were sacrificing short relievers like the Sauron and Saruman churned out Orcs for the siege of Helm’s Deep."

i'm sorry, but any game recap - regardless of the outcome - that conjures up LotR/Middle Earth references is just fine in my book! this reminded me of Attacker's debut album Battle of Helms Deep. new jersey metal, circa 1985, at its finest! : )

7 thelarmis   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:01 am

[4] i'm pretty close to your age group, but don't know that reference. that of course, is on me. just look at what i'm referencing in [6]! ; )

8 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:01 am

[6] I think that is also an exceptionally accurate analogy.

9 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:01 am

[4] Jeter is 16 for his last 102. He had a bad year which is ending in the toilet bowl of slumps. He should take a week off. Not even pinch hit, just leave his spikes at home.

there will be postseason baseball, probably in cold minnesota as the wild card and he'll have to play those games. might as well give him the best chance possible.

i told my friend the twins fan about a month ago that this is the year the twins get over the hump against the yanks. nothing has changed for me since then.

10 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:02 am

[8] except the orcs lost that battle.

11 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:04 am

[7] No reference to anything in particular, just that I think those of us who are Jeter's age +/- a year or so, are experiencing this sadness as far more mortal bummer than trivial passing.

12 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:05 am

[9] I have a funny feeling that Jeter is going to have a very good playoffs.

I also have a feeling that AJ, Hughes and Javy will not, so it might wind up being five very good games, but reason enough to leave a good taste in our mouths.

13 thelarmis   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:05 am

[0] the nickname i give to the 4th place team is: Blow Jays

14 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:06 am

[11] I'm thirteen years younger than Jeter and I experience that sadness whenever I realize that I'm remembering something that happened a decade ago

Time needs to stop. If George was still alive he'd do something about that.

15 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:09 am

[9] It's driving me mad watching him insist his way through day after day of his cripple walk.

I think he doesn't understand that it's not going to get better on its own. Or maybe we don't understand, and he'll be right again, but 16 for 102, goodness.

As to [8], I can only think of the hilarity of comparing Saruman and Gandalf to Washington and Girardi.

I think that thinking you can do better than major league managers is often an exercise in silliness, so long as you're not watching pure insanity like Torre murdering a generation of relievers, but there were some good laughs watching Washington and Girardi fox each other in that game.

Thinking back, though, the parallels between Torre's bullpen management and the British generation lost to WWI disturb me.

16 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:11 am

My 3 yr old's 1st soccer practice is tomorrow morning, i better go to bed before it starts. g'night everybody...

17 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:12 am

[14] King George was just mad enough to try to pull off something like that. I'm also reeling from finding out that a beloved professor died right before the school year, in some sort of crevasse of time that causes you to miss such an obviously important announcement - and then there's some stuff closer to home, and so everything is perceived through a prism of deepened meanings.

I really, really, did not need to watch Jeter go 1 for 7 and fail so exquisitely tonight.

18 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:14 am

Oh, that ump should be sentenced to a barber shave from another blind man. I think umpiring is generally pathetic all around the league, but that was unusually bad stuff.

19 cult of basebaal   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:19 am

Thinking back, though, the parallels between Torre’s bullpen management and the British generation lost to WWI disturb me

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria torre

20 jjmerlock   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:24 am

Somehow that makes me feel less bad about comparing the savaging of Proctor and Sturtze to young men getting mowed down by machine gun fire. Thank you.

21 cult of basebaal   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:27 am

[6] Man, those are some sooper special lyrics them boys could write.

Vandalizing the countryside
Goblins march in fearless pride
Through destruction they forge virtue
Hell rats are out to get you
Gandalf carries the magic staff
Divides the armies in half
In the deeps of helm's they engage in battle
So insane it'll make you rattle

Thunder roars wind howls
Demons sporting crimson cowls
Hobbits fight in desperation
The bloody war had no inspiration

I'm can't quite tell if they actually ever read the books, or if they just got drunk and watched the Bakshi film one night with the sound off ...


22 cult of basebaal   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:38 am

[6] And for my tastes, I prefer Cirith Ungol for my 80's-metal-bands-named-after-Tolkien-reference fix.


23 thelarmis   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:57 am

[21] hey, they're from your home state! oh, and i have all the Cirith Ungol stuff, too!
: )

i'll never forget reading the review of Battle of Helm's Deep. it basically called it a faster speedier heavier metal mix of Maiden & Rush. i was sold. went to the store and found it for .25 cents on vinyl! their 2nd record, featured a different vocalist (since deceased) and i liked it even more. fast forward to 1999, and this random metal mail order/record label in Jersey not only reissues both albums but gets the band back together and puts out new records of the mighty Attacker! and, yes, my brother and i have been friends with this guy for the last decade+! : )

24 thelarmis   ~  Sep 11, 2010 2:58 am

[22] oh, and for the BEST tolkien metal, check out Blind Guardian, from Germany (of course). their Nightfall in Middle Earth album (about the silmarils) is brilliant!

25 cult of basebaal   ~  Sep 11, 2010 3:04 am

[23] / [24] Yeah, I should have known you'd totally "Milton Berle" me on the metal!!!

26 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 11, 2010 9:12 am

[15] & [6] How about Mariano as Gandalf? That's where I was headed. He's got to guide a band of lesser, mortal beings, full of flaws on a ring quest. He's always got to come in and save their asses.

And how about the GM responsible for the roster construction of the fellowship of the ring? He chose four hobbits when at most 2 was called for. Imagine having 2 more elves around? Almost all the bad stuff that happens in fellowship revolves around hobbit-error.

27 RIYank   ~  Sep 11, 2010 9:21 am

[26] Roster construction: I think there might have been a salary cap, and hobbits are cheap. (Not Pedroia, but back in those days they were.)

I tried hard to think of a good Aragorn/Ranger joke, but I got nuthin.

The Rangers tied the record for most pitchers used by a team in a game. It was held by the Mariners in a game against the Rangers, 1992. (And yes, it was in September, of course.)

28 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 11, 2010 9:31 am

[27] I think the hobbits are cheap until you figure in the meal per diem. i think it was a case of chemistry trumping stats.

29 RIYank   ~  Sep 11, 2010 9:41 am

[28] Yeah, that's right, chemistry. Hobbits are gritty, too. Baggins, Eckstein. They play the battle the right way.

30 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 11, 2010 10:56 am

(sigh) so glad I turned this game off when I did... it was like riding in a car, starting down a long ravine and realizing the break lines had been cut.

I hate to say it, but football is here and my attention will be diverted elsewhere as long as MLB refuses to address the poor quality of it's product. The umpiring alone is killing me; if they think selling floor-stained burgers is okay because they think three hours of bullshyt is equivalent to the five-second rule, well they can shove it up their you-know-whats.

31 Diane Firstman   ~  Sep 11, 2010 11:30 am

the only way Jeter is going to get an extended rest is for him to get injured, sadly ...

Joe might cost the Yanks a game or two if he continues to play Jeter and bat him 1st/2nd ...

16-102 with a .243 OBP and a .235 SLG ..... he has scored all of 12 runs in his last 25 games ... that won't do ...

32 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Sep 11, 2010 12:55 pm

It's sad to say the Jeter has hit rock bottom, and he knows it. I have never seen him fling a helmet or curse loud enough to be heard on the telly like he did after the foul ball off the knee at bat. He has also been seen sitting alone on the bench. We can't say that this his career is circling the drain because he was so good last year, but he needs a rest now to salvage what is left of this year, and the playoffs. It just breaks my heart. And it must break his, Minka notwithstanding (I'd be worried if I was her).

Last year the talk was if Jeter could beat Pete Rose's hits record. Now I hope he can get to 3000.

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