Sean started things early. He called me a little after noon. “Dude, what’s the over/under on the number of earned runs for Mussina minus the number of errors Allie makes behind him?” “Good question,” I said. “Here’s the way I see it going down. Three earned for Moose, one more unearned because of an error by Allie. So three minus one – I’m saying two.” “Okay, dude. I’ll check you later.” Many hours of splashing around in Big Joe’s pool and a barbeque later, Acc text messages me. It was the eighth inning. “What do you think,” he said. My reply: “I still think we might have a dagger for Papelbon.” I said the same to Big Joe (father-in-law) who was sitting right next to me out in his screen house. He was nodding his head before I even finished the sentence. “I think so too,” he said. Fast forward again about an hour and change. We did, indeed, have a dagger for Papelbon, as the Captain showed again why anyone who underestimates him should be kicked right where he’s standing. But Big HGH got a lucky bounce over the Giambino, who should have made the play anyway, and there was Ortiz and Manny standing on base ready for a home-plate jump-up-and-down-fest. I shot a text message to Acc, as he and I had been steadily exchanging messages from about the 5th inning on. “Enjoy this game while you can, because it’s going to be over in about four minutes.” The big boy surprised me with his reply. “Mo will do it.” You have to understand something about the big boy. He doesn’t make predictions, optimistic or otherwise. He feels like he’s jinxing things. But here he was sticking his neck out, with two on and none out, no less. So Youkilis tries to bunt them over, and Mo was his usual lightning bolt-self off the mound, making the throw to third. Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, doing the game on ESPN, focused on the fact that Francona was asking Youkilis to bunt, something he doesn’t often do, and he should have seen this coming because he hasn’t sacrificed since he was in the minors, etc. What they missed was the “Mo factor.” I’m sure Sterling and Waldman made this point, and the YES broadcasters make it all the time. It is this. Mo Rivera is one of the greatest fielding pitchers out there, and the Yankees always say that the guy could play any position on the field, including centerfield or shortstop. Bunting against Rivera is extra risky for just that reason. And it wasn’t a bad bunt, either. It wasn’t a great one, but it wasn’t a bad one. But it was rendered moot when Jorge Posada drippy-fingered Mo’s next pitch, and the runners moved up anyway. That’s when Mo got tough. Wow. Money, money, money. After Posada redeemed himself with a Pesky Pole dagger, the phone rang. Big Joe (The Mrs. and I had come back to Brooklyn as the eighth was starting). “I love this HD. Are you looking at the faces of these Red Sox fans? They look like they’re at a funeral.” Acc called it, that crazy b*stard.
Let’s start with this. The Yankees are a better team than the Boston Red Sox. I say that with utmost confidence. But they’re not this much better. I wasn’t expecting this, obviously. On Friday I wrote that I prove myself wrong pretty much every day. Well, strike another one up on the board. I said three of five. The media was, even before tonight’s game, calling this the “Boston Massacre Part II.” I guess a true account of history would probably call this part III, but I’m not here to quibble. You couldn’t have asked for a more all-encompassing definition of victory over the last four days. Three complete bludgeonings and then a knife through the heart. And I am as stunned as anyone. This team is as dangerous as any I’ve seen in a long time. You try not to get too juiced, as it was only three days ago (four when most of you are reading this) that the Yankees dropped their second in a row at home to lose a series to the lowly Orioles. But call it a blip, I guess. The Yankees this weekend demonstrated everything that they have become with the acquisition of Abreu. No pitcher is immune to their poison. It starts with the first pitch, and by the fifth inning or so, pitches hemorrhaging from the starter’s arm, they’ve got you right where they want you. And then they strike. It helps when you can scrape the opponent’s weakness brutally raw. Why didn’t Theo Epstein make any deals? Nothing. Not a one. Sure, he got Javy Lopez and Eric Hinske after the deadline, but that was only because he had two injuries. Before that he thought he was set. Whoops. No lefthanders in the bullpen to face all of the Yankee left-handed bats. Not until they called up the one guy in triple A they were hoping could so the job. He was last seen walking the only guy he faced tonight. Theo keeps claiming he didn’t want to “mortgage the farm.” Don’t be a ******, Theo. No one knows for sure what their farm looks like. Just two years ago everyone was sounding the death knell for the Yankees because they had absolutely no talent left in their farm system. They finally went and mortgaged the whole thing for the big veteran stars, they said. Well, go ask Jonathan Papelbon, Tito Francona and Ozzie Guillen if they think maybe Chien-Ming Wang, Robbie Cano, and Melky Cabrera are for real. Point is, if you have a need, Theo, fill it. Now. You have a great team. Don’t waste it by giving up an opportunity to win now. In two or three years, some of the best young players will not have been on anyone’s radar screen either. You never know. The season’s not over, but you may have cost a very good team a shot at a championship because you didn’t want to part with Manny Delcarmen or Craig Hansen. I hope they turn out to be better than what I have seen so far. For your sake.
I was splashing around in Big Joe’s pool today when I heard his neighbor, “Lenny,” start talking to me over the fence, half-a-face style like “Wilson” from the old show Home Improvement. Here’s the deal with Lenny. Nice, nice guy, but I can’t take him. He’s a huge Mets fan, but he’s one of these guys who claims to “also root for the Yankees.” He’s never rooted for the Yankees a day in his life. And he’s about 70, so that’s a lot of days. He’s a huge Yankee-hater, but bills himself as a guy who “also roots for the Yankees” just to give himself credibility when he proceeds to crush everything about the Yankees for about ten straight minutes. The minute you call him out on it, he’ll immediately back up and say, “No, don’t get me wrong, I root for them, I’m just saying…” Now, I know all fans get this from time to time. Especially fans of teams with rivals. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Yankee fans have to deal with this most of all, because there is so much hatred boiling out there for the Yankees. Annoying.
Speaking of which, I read Lupica in the News today for the first time in a long time. What a loser. The Yankees are in the middle of a huge series at Fenway, and are pulling off one of the most impressive performances on the big stage, and what does this jack*ss write a two-page article about? That Jeter and Allie Boy don’t get along. Are you kidding me, dude? Complete with supposed “interviews” with four unnamed players whom he asked to describe the relationship between Allie Boy and Jeter. Three seemed to not give him the answer he was looking for, and one supposedly said, “Chilly.” Good lord Mike, why do you care? Why is that important? Are you so bitter and hateful towards everything about the Yankees that this is what you stoop to? What is the point? The Yankees are playing ridiculous baseball right now, and this is what you think baseball fans need to know? Dude, come to grips with it, you whiny little man. The Yankees are never going away, and they will never stop being the premier baseball team and the premier baseball story in this town.
Four down, one to go. Worth noting that if the Red Sox don’t win all 5 games remaining with the Yanks, they can’t win the season series, which means you might as well tack another game on to the Yankee lead, because a tie will go to the Yanks. Again. Man. This has been absolutely nuts. What’s next?