Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 17, 2003
BASEBALL: The Dream Dies
Dreams do come true in life. David does beat Goliath. Hollywood endings do happen.
But not in the Bronx. The New York Yankees were put on this earth for one reason -- to remind us that Goliath usually wins, and that Hollywood endings are the stuff of dreams precisely because life so rarely works out that way. Cubs fans believed; Red Sox fans believed. Yankee fans just expect, and they are yet again rewarded. Yankee Stadium remains the place where dreams go to die.
Let's back up a bit, skipping around as I made notes . . .
Inning 1: You could tell this was a big one when Clemens got a standing O on the first pitch of the game.
Bravest guy in the house? Right behind the dugout on the 1B line, there's a guy in a Mets jersey. At a Yankee-Red Sox game. Only in New York.
Why is Soriano hitting leadoff, and Giambi hitting seventh? This is nuts. The lineup should be Johnson and Jeter 1 and 2 (either order has its advantages), then Giambi, Posada, Soriano, Bernie.
Pedro left his fastball at home. I've said in the past that at his peak, I'd rather have San Pedro de Fenway on the mound to pitch the big game than anyone else, ever. His peak looks gone, but I'd still take him over anyone today but Randy Johnson.
Inning 2: Enrique Wilson throws the ball away . . . bad sign for the Yanks. Defense can kill you in games like this.
Inning 3: Lots of full counts on both sides, it seems.
Doesn't Karim Garcia look like one of the Sheens? And David Ortiz definitely has the Mo Vaughn glare going.
Inning 4: Nixon does it again! I almost missed that one, it happened so fast.
I almost feel bad for Clemens at this point. Mussina comes in to relieve.
It occurs to me that if the Sox win, the two wild cards match up in the Series. But at least on the AL side, there's not much doubt that we're watching the two best teams in the league right now, is there?
Jeter rushes to the bag to turn the 6-3 double play; for the first time since I've watched Jeter, he looks desperate, less than 100% certain the Yankees will win.
Inning 5: Giambi has the solo homer. Solo homers in a game like this, you don't mind so much; let the Yanks keep hitting fly balls.
The announcers are talking about instability -- the Yanks have sure gone through some players this year.
Top 7: Nomar swings at Nelson's first pitch of the night. Jeff Nelson. Why?
Bottom 7: Pedro's thrown just 79 pitches through 6; maybe I was wrong about the deep counts. 9 outs to go. I'm thinking: maybe the Sox need to win this game -- what better way to get even the most jaded Sox fans' hopes up (only to dash them cruelly, at the hands of a fly-by-night franchise) than to vanquish the Yankees in the ALCS? It'd be like the US hockey team losing the gold medal match after beating the Russkies in 1980.
The announcers are officially in "Red Sox victory lap" mode, which proves George Santayana's point.
8 outs. Posada flies out deep to Damon. 7 outs.
Matsui is grimacing something fierce; for all of his face-of-stone look, Matsui can really wear his heart on his sleeve sometimes.
Pedro to Giambi, throwing 92, 93. His velocity's increasing. Giambi homers; Damon just misses catching it. 4-2 Sox. Sox still may need one more run to put this away.
Millar falls down, can't get to the bag, I write down, "uh oh . . . it's a game again . . . this is bad." Play has that kind of look to it.
Pedro starts out up and in on Soriano. Warning? I've got your warning right here. Is this the last inning for Pedro?
Rivera's up in the pen -- down 2, but Torre smells blood.
1-2 to Soriano, Pedro hits 94 on the gun. Jeter doesn't look worried anymore; none of the Yankees do. 2-2, Pedro goes outside, 95 mph.
Pedro throws one belt high, right in Soriano's happy zone -- but just outside. Whiff.
Top 8: Nelson's back. 2-0 pitch goes way inside to Manny . . .
Wells comes in; this is like the All-Star Game, one top starter after another. Ding dong; Ortiz goes deep off Wells, looks like Wells is buying the keg for the next game. So much for the tight game. 8 homers now, they say, in 26 games vs. Yankees; that works out to 50 on a full season.
Bottom 8: Pedro still has trouble throwing strikes to Nick Johnson (this may not be coincidental to Johnson's strike zone judgment).
Jeter doubles. Bernie drives him in. Grady sticks with Pedro to face Matsui, and Matsui doubles. Second and third, one out. Now, McCarver says they should have brought in Embree to face Matsui.
Posada up; gotta get Posada, Giambi's on deck and we'll see Embree to face Giambi.
My notes here: "tie game Damon can't throw . . . Sox doomed . . . Rivera will come in - can't win"
Embree saws off Giambi, Wilson comes up and is hit for. McCarver's still harping on Little leaving in Pedro to face Matsui and Posada, like Red Sox Nation won't do that tomorrow. McCarver: "Sometimes the manager has to overrule the superstar." I pointed out two years ago why this is BS coming from McCarver, who loves to recount the story of Bob Gibson demanding to keep the ball to finish Game 7 in 1964.
Timlin vs. Garcia, now; 2 on 2 out, 3-0 count. Timlin walks him. Will Soriano repeat Game 7 heroics from 2001? Walker wow! What a play to rob Soriano. On the replay it's like watching two separate games - Yankees whirling around the bases, fans starting to rise -- and there's Walker, snagging the ball.
Top 9: Need a base hit from Walker here to take the lead. 1-1. 1-2. Rivera has the hammer . . . a flair to Soriano . . . out.
Bottom 9: Jeter whunts - whiffs on the bunt, but it's not strike 3 yet; now it is. Timlin's still in; for some reason I'd thought they'd changed pitchers. He's been so good in this postseason and Bernie so bad, it's a question of whether something will give or momentum will hold. Walker wow! again, this time a leaping grab. So much for the iron glove reputation. So much for something giving.
Top 10: Ortiz chugs into second with a double, and this time they run for him. Ortiz just is Mike Easler, in a lot of ways - big, scary-looking guy, scary hitter, a bit of a late bloomer. Millar's too eager here, jumping at Rivera's first offering. Popup.
Bottom 10: Wakefield's in, not Williamson. Why? Bring in the closer; screw getting a lead, if somebody else gives up a run, the game's over. Plus, Wakefield brings Mirabelli with him, so Varitek (due up next inning) goes out, and Ortiz is already out.
Top 11: Nothing good can happen as long as Rivera's still out there. Contreras is probably next. Mirabelli looks . . . well, like a bad hitter up there.
Bottom 11: Torre won't warm up anyone else; he doesn't want the Sox to think they've got hope of outlasting Mariano.
Boone . . . TV turned off. Headed downstairs to blog. Not happy about how this season turned out. You suffer all year with a dreadful team, you get a little involved in the postseason, and at the end of the day it's the Fish and the Damn Yankees. That's just the way life is sometimes.