Friday, July 02, 2004

...and finally, swept.

Manny goes yard in the top of the 13th inning to give us a 4-3 lead in the crucial final game of the series against the Yankees. The game was all but over and then the Babe intervened yet again. Two quick outs by Leskanic in the bottom of the 13th, and then Ruben Sierra singles. Miguel Cairo (who?) doubles and Sierra scores all the way from first to tie the game again. Then up steps John Flaherty (WHO?!?), the last player on Joe Torre's bench and a former Red Sox, to pinch hit. Leskanic, whose slider had been absolutely filthy for the last two innings, hangs one up and Flaherty drops a base hit into deep left field. It bounces into the stands for a ground rule double, Cairo scores and the Yankees steal another win.

Long live the Curse.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

...and spanked again

Clutch: adj. Informal 1. Tending to be successful in tense or critical situations.

If there's ever been a single word to describe the Yankees, it's clutch. The Red Sox, at least this year's version, have never heard the term.

We had it in the bag last night. Tim Wakefield pitched his guts out, held the most stacked lineup in history scoreless for six full innings and entrusted a 2-0 lead to the best bullpen (stat-wise) in the AL. We load the bases in the top of the 7th with no outs. It would be impossible not to score. Any deep fly ball scores, and a base hit scores at least two. True to 2004 form the Sox managed to squander a golden opportunity, against the Yankees no less. Johnny Damon hits into a fielder's choice, pinch runner (Kapler) is out at home. Bellhorn pops up, but not deep enough to score the runner at third. David Ortiz tops it off by staring at a high fastball for strike three. Three men stranded with a slim 2-0 lead in Yankee Stadium.

Now let's study how the Yankees do things. Bottom of the 7th and Wakefield is pulled after drilling Sheffield, punching out A-Rod, and walking Matsui. Runners on first and second, one out. Nothing a solid reliever like Scott Williamson can't handle, right? Next thing I know the bases are loaded with 2 outs and Tony Clark at the plate. This is the type of situation that the Yankees always have go their way and sure enough, Clark shoots a screaming grounder down the first base line, low and just to Ortiz's left. At this precise moment Ortiz's feet grow roots and he makes a dopey, lumbering stab at the ball. He ends up on his knees with his feet still planted in the same spot, and the ball glances off his glove and rolls slowly into shallow right. Two runs score. The ballgame is tied and NY has taken our hearts once again.

The Yankee 8th was even more fitting of a 2004 NY-Boston matchup. 2-2. Lofton leads off and hits a routine ball to Nomar who then tosses the ball into the stands behind first base for his third E of the series. Lofton goes to second and Jeter steps up. Jeter bunts Lofton over to third, and then Sheffield brings him in for the game winning run. Jeter is a perennial All-Star, he's hitting everything thrown at him lately, and the Red Sox are on the ropes. How would a Sox hitter have handled this situation?

Swing for the fences. Go for the flashy game winning home run. Try to make the front page.

Jeter lays down a bunt. He made sure the fastest guy on the team made it to third with one out. Perhaps this is why he's the team captain. It's funny how unselfish play and attention to detail seem to pay off. Say what you want about the Yankees, Steinbrenner, Cashman and the Evil Empire, I knows I do. But get off of Joe Torre. The guy is all class, all sportsmanship, and the guy can flat out coach. Get him in Boston and we'll see about a "curse."

Trade Nomar now, before his value falls any lower. He isn't hitting, he's a defensive liability, apparently he isn't liked in the clubhouse, and we're losing him at the end of the season anyway. At least get something back for him. Anything. Please. Pokey can handle short and Bellhorn is steady at second. We're getting Mueller back this weekend to take over at third and that leaves a Ortiz, Millar and McCarty to handle first base duties. Right now Nomar is getting by on "hero worship." He needs a change of scenery and heaven knows the team does as well. Have the nuts to pull the trigger, Theo.