First things first. That’s all you need to know. I was in Detroi-t last night, and I’m in a bar around 10:30 with a few guys I work with. As I’m talking to one guy I was looking behind him at the scores that were flashing on the TV screen behind the bar. I knew Pat Bechtle was in section 24, courtesy of the “ESPY play of the day” award from Wifflemania. I’m trying to be discreet, but in the middle of his sentence he says. “Sorry, dude, let me just check this for a sec. The Yankees already won and the Red Sox are losing. I just want to see if it’s final.” He was doing the same thing I was doing with the TV behind me. I completely lost my composure. “Yeah??!!” I ran over to the TV.
Out of this whirlwind came the truth. As the bell tolled midnight, and Wednesday stepped aside for Thursday, the world righted itself just a little bit. The New York Yankees were in first place. Our team. The team that we believed in all year. The team that had showed us throughout the season flashes of the talent and gumption that has always defined their uniform, without ever really cracking through. This was their night. As the LT pointed out in his comment yesterday, the outfield flags have been adjusted, and if I’m George Steinbrenner I call the union guys in on OT and have them switch them right then and there. Just so they would feel more at home by gametime tonight. Blue flag lead left, red flag second. Just as it should be.
Now the tricky part. Make it stick. The Yanks knew what they had to do tonight. They just did it in the same crazy way. It’s like watching the same game every other day. The Yankees win one game in a squeaker, 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, and then jump out to a huge lead in the next game that they promptly give right back in huge bunches, only to have Flash and/or Mo have to come in and nail it down. Its nuts. And nerve racking. But it’s worked. The Yanks are winning when they need to do just that. I’m not going to insult the world by complaining about it. I couldn’t be more psyched. The Yankees are doing what they should do with this competition. This is the time to get it done, and the Yanks have very little cushion. The Blue Jays are a better team than the O’s. We’ve got them for three at home, and four with the O’s on the road. Traditionally, we’ve played well at Camde-n Yard-s, but it’s not the same as four at home. Although I suspect you’ll hear a noticeable Yankee contingent at the games. The Sox have three in Balt and four at home with the Jays. I’m inclined to call that even. The Yanks have one more game with the team that’s suc*king more wind, but one less game at home. And although I think it’s true that the Red Sox have had some trouble keeping their balance lately, it’s not that tough to win 4 or 5 of 7 in that stretch against teams that are holding tryouts, essentially. I think the Yanks will do the same. That would leave us a game up by the last weekend. And that’s what the world is waiting for. We’re ready if that’s the way it’s got to be.
The reason I like the Yankees chances at this point is that they are doing everything well, with the exception of garbage-time pitching. They are getting contributions from everybody in the line-up. They are getting solid starting pitching, with gutty one-run, low scoring wins. And they are closing games the same way. Tough to beat. Jorge Posada is finally getting hot at the right time. Gary Sheff is getting healthier by the day, although his inability to play the outfield would cause problems, if it continued indefinitely. Giambi’s back is a concern. They Yankees are so much more dangerous with him hitting well. We’ll see how Sean’s boy, Moose, bounces back from the gem he threw tonight. Good call on that, by the way, Sean. If he can stay healthy, we have the makings. Especially since we have some other guys on the team you may have heard of. The Captain, The MVP, and The Ferocious Lion. And Crosb-y, Lawto-n, and Cano might get you once or twice, just for good measure.
As I’m getting off the plane at LaGuardia tonight, I run in to hit the head. Phone rings. The big boy. “Dude, what the **** is going on?” Since I was in progress, I answered honestly. “I just got off the plane at LaGuardia. I’m at the urinal.” “What?” he says. “I was in Detroi-t last night.” “Oh yeah.” He says. “I knew that. Everybody’s going nuts, dude. People are freaking out. What happened to the blog today?” It was a great question. “I brought my laptop out there, but I had a problem with the connection. I couldn’t get logged on. My bad, dude.” He was unimpressed. “Don’t tell me, bro, Chris Woy thinks something might have happened to you.” So I blew it. I couldn’t get the connection going and I had to bail. Didn’t want to do it on one of the biggest nights of the year, but it was dumb luck. I’ll try not to let it happen again. That’s one I owe you guys.
But the important thing is that we’re in first place, and we’ll be in first place tomorrow, and no matter what happens, we’ll be in first place on Saturday morning when we wake up. Even if it’s in a tie. It’s hard to make up ground. Wins don’t come easy most of the time; and losses for your rivals are going to come just as tough. As I type I can hear sirens outside. I wonder if some White Sox fan in town for a conference is on the ledge of a building. What’s going on in the Central is unbelievable. Is it possible the White Sox blow that thing? Looking at their schedule, it’s going to be close. They have three more with the Twins as the Indians will be thumping the hapless Royals. That probably means the Indians pick up another game by the end of the weekend. But here’s what the Chisox have going for them. The Indians have got three next week with the ultimate “you never know” spoiler. The D-Rays. They have been nothing short of a minefield for contending teams this year. The White Sox will have four with the fading Tigers during the same stretch. Look for the White Sox to take one (and maybe another half) back. That’s going to take that one to the final weekend in Clevelan-d. That weekend is really going to be say a prayer and hold your breath time.
Good work on the comments, boys, despite “the night the blog went out.” H8nBos10, I like where your head’s at. You either walk or hit Pill Papi every time up. You can’t let that guy beat you. Hopefully Sam Perlozzo is listening.
Okay, boys. It’s time to get excited. You’d never know it by the weather in NY, but its stretch time. Acc will be in section 24 with Mrs. Acc tomorrow night. Check out the outfield flags while you’re there, big boy. I hear they look nice this time of year.