Today's post is a "live" blog of the Yankees' first game of the season. I put "live" in quotes because although the observations were made live, and are unchanged except for a few minor style edits, it has been 'tape-delayed' so I can post during normal working hours. The game happened Monday afternoon. The reason it's being posted Wednesday, and not Tuesday, is that yesterday's post was a tape-delay blog of Monday night's NCAA title game.
Now that you're thoroughly confused, let me step out of the way. Tomorrow, the blog resumes its usual format, and I promise it won't take six hours and a tub of adderal to read. Enjoy.
3:59: Just got in the door from work. It’s rainy as hell in New York, and I’m praying the bad weather doesn’t extend south to Baltimore. I woke up at 6:30 this morning so I could get out in time to see the game. It would be a gigantic waste if this one got rained out, since I can’t pull the hour-shifting scam two days in a row. Today has not been ideal. My face is sunburned to hell from 6 unprotected hours in Prospect Park yesterday, I’m hopped up on about 1500mg of Ibuprofen, the co-workers were in rare irritating form, and now ESPN seems to be blacked out. I’m starting to panic. This can’t be a good omen for the Fat Man’s first start.
4:01: It looks like the YES Network will be carrying the game. I hope. We’re on a commercial right now, but baseball is listed from 4-7 on the guide. Still panicking.
4:02: Ok, we have a pregame show. Good to see you again, Bob Lorenz.
4:03: Yankee coverage! It looks windy and overcast in Camden Yards, but not wet. We have baseball! WE HAVE BASEBALL!!! (Pardon me while I take a couple laps around the room.)
4:03: The Orioles are being introduced to a video montage. In case you were wondering, they’ll be running out from centerfield on an orange carpet, beneath an arch of orange balloons. On either side of the carpet, which stretches to second base, some sort of Oriole Youth color guard corps are holding out team flags. The cumbersome mascot, waving his own flag, waddles down the carpet to get everyone pumped. Just from this pregame coverage, I have to imagine we’ll beat them by a score of 14-2.
4:05: Taking a restroom break instead of watching this sad little ceremony.
4:07: Back. The rhetorical question, “will this go on all day?” starts to become less rhetorical. I wonder if I can take potshots at the Orioles organization for three hours? (Yes.)
4:08: For new Orioles, during the introduction, the PA announcer says “Welcome to Baltimore.” I can’t tell if he’s being ironic. Even Bob Lorenz in the studio is rocking a smirk.
4:10: Jeremy Guthrie, Baltimore’s starter, is the proud owner of a 10.57 ERA this spring.
4:11: Lorenz, in the studio: “The Yankee rotation is much more solid this year, with five proven starters. Last year, they didn’t know how much they could get from Hughes and Kennedy. We all know now how that turned out.” Yes, yes we do. Hey, remember when we could have had Santana for Hughes, Kennedy, and Melky Cabrera? What a hilarious memory, right Yankee fans?
4:12: During the national anthem, the Orioles fan all say “O!” together at the second “O Say.” I thought that was a Cameron Indoor Stadium invention. It makes a lot more sense for them, since they have an actual ‘O’ in their nickname. Looking back, it just seems sort of disrespectful from Dukies. Then again, I estimate that the housing/banking disaster is roughly 84% the fault of Duke Econ majors unleashed into the real world, so we have a proud history of disrespecting America.
4:16: Opening Yankee montage, narrated by Michael Kay. He and Ken Singleton will be calling the action. “The journey they hope will end in a title….begins today!” LET’S GO YANKEES! (I’m going to take a couple more laps.)
4:21: Smokin’ Joe Biden throws out the first pitch! He looked good, too. I’m not sure why, but I love Biden. I hesitate to revive this stupid talking point, but if there’s any politician I’d want to have a beer with, it’d be him. Preferably in a Scranton dive bar where we could raise hell and fight our way out the door.
4:23: Texeira gets booed like crazy by the Oriole crowd! The Yanks are all laughing. Good stuff, nothing like a little bad blood to make things exciting.
4:25: First pitch. Strike 1 to Jeter. God bless baseball. God bless us all.
4:26: Some people think baseball is a reprieve from the tough economic times we’re facing. I say it’s a cure. Don’t ask me for specifics- just feed off my emotion.
4:28: After about an 8-pitch at-bat, Jeter starts the year with a single up the middle. Great omen. Let’s not forget a key staple of our title teams from back in the day…guys who worked the count deep, even if they eventually made an out.
4:29: Man, Oriole fans do not like Texeira. Get over it, O’s. I love the guy. I went to the new stadium Saturday (it’s awesome) for the Cubs exhibition game, and he jacked two home runs. Beautiful swing on this fella. But here he flies out to right-center.
4:31: Jeter stranded as Matsui grounds out. So far, we’ve had our first “Yankees Suck!” chant and our first hatred serenade for Tex. Kinda makes you wish A-Rod was here, just to piss more people off by existing.
4:33: In news around the league, Johan Santana is still good. 5 2/3, 1 run, 7 strikeouts. And the Mets pen is one inning away from actually preserving a lead!
4:34: Big #52 facing his first batter. Let’s go CC! And before I even finish typing this thought, it’s a single up the middle for Roberts. The pain of my sunburn is directly correlated to the ebb and flow of this game.
4:35: After a wild pitch, the O’s have Roberts in scoring position and a 2-0 count on Adam Jones. On the bright side, Singleton lets us know that, historically speaking, CC “brings woe to the O’s!”
4:39: All the players now wear long pants that hang over their shoes. I’m sure it’s more comfortable, but I’m feeling a lot of nostalgia right now for stirrups. On that topic, how did stirrups ever come about? What a useless piece of attire. Totally non-functional and, in my high school experience, difficult to manage. I guess they’re finally becoming obsolete. I wish that would happen to the neck tie.
4:45: Mora hits a ground ball to third, Roberts tries to come home and Ransom nails him by about fifteen feet. Posada barely applies the easy tag. Nice job by the newbie at third. Who needs A-Rod? Jeter fields a sharp grounder to end the inning. Good damage control by CC.
4:46: In Cincy, K-Rod makes his first save for the Metropolitans. The unstable wackos from Queens will be guaranteeing a World Series win tonight on sports radio 660, WFAN.
4:48: My expert theory is that this Yankee line-up is going to erupt in ‘09. The pitching will hold up, but I think the offensive explosion will be the big story of the season. If you want a complete mathematical record of the complicated statistical evaluation and algebraic rubrics that went into this elegant analysis, send me an e-mail.
4:49: Robinson Cano is a cool-looking SOB. In yesterday’s national title tape-delay blog, I mentioned that there are only a few choice athletes who can hope to qualify for the nickname “Sweet.” It implies a purity of form, quiet, flowing grace, and awesome ability. Plus, you have to have a first name that works. My candidate then was Wayne Ellington. I think Cano is close to qualifying. Sweet Robbie just flew out to deep left.
4:56: I’m sandwiched up. Turkey, provolone, avocado. The avocado craze is just now sweeping me along. Saw it as a hippie thing for a long time, refused to try it. Lost a lot of good friends that way. Question: did they even have avocados when we were kids? Trivia: avocados have huge friggin’ pits. Also, they only last in the fridge about a day once they’re cut. I learned that one the hard way.
5:00: CC gets through an easy second inning. I hate that I’m noticing this, but the man has a huge derriere. It’s a force of nature, and nearly an act of God. I’d make a joke about it being the source of CC’s power, but isn’t that kinda true for pitchers?
5:02: I finally figured out what avocados taste like: almonds.
5:03: Today’s “Toyota Text Poll” asks viewers: who will finish first in the American League East? Gee, I wonder who will win this survey, here on the YES network, home of the New York Yankees?
5:04: Leadoff single for Brett Gardner. He’s one of those guys who brings a new level of excitement to the base paths. Everyone in the stadium is a little on edge, now, waiting to see if he’ll swipe second. I love having a guy like that on our team. Here’s hoping he doesn’t bat .210.
5:07: Picture perfect hit and run. Gardner steals, the shortstop covers (why? Shouldn’t the second baseman cover when a righty’s batting? Big mistake, Os!), and Jeter slaps a single to the vacated left side. Right after I just typed “vacated,” Singleton used the same word. Same page, Kenny! By the end of 2009, I expect to make a YouTube montage with photoshopped pictures of us having crazy adventures and the song “Two Hearts” by Phil Collins playing in the background. By the end of 2010? Restraining order.
5:08: Sac fly from Damon for the first Yankee run of the year! Textbook baseball, baby! That’s the screwy National League tomfoolery we were promised last year from Skipper Girardi.
5:11: Remember for a while when it looked like Mark Texeira might go to the Orioles? Remember there was that whole story about how he wanted to be close to his family?
Oriole fans do. The entire stadium erupts in an ugly kind of glee as he grounds out to Guthrie.
5:13: I didn’t catch the date, but one of the giveaways at Yankee Stadium is “Magnetic Schedule Day.” Hey Yankee fans: you know that paper schedule you meticulously printed out and spent precious minutes attaching to your refrigerator with a separate magnet? Tear it the fuck down. We just cut out the middle man.
5:22: An Adam Jones triple gives the Orioles a 2-1 lead, and that turns into 3-1 when he scores on a sac fly. CC is not making this easy on himself. Even when he’s pitched his way out of jams, he seems to be getting hit hard. I have to wonder if the pressure of opening day has anything to do with this. The man is not known as a clutch performer, although he had some good late-season games with the Brew Crew last year before his regularly scheduled playoff flame-out.
5:32: Mora makes a ridiculous play on a line drive by Cody Ransom. Guthrie is through 4, and I have to say, he’s not terrible. I was hoping for a few more runs after seeing his awful spring training ERA.
5:33: Maybe I’m not critical enough, but I kinda like Kay and Singleton as announcers. My stepfather, on the other hand, thinks Kay “is like the fat kid in school who nobody liked,” and calls Singleton “Simpleton.” I’m not sure what my deal is with announcers; I never even have a problem with the guys who are universally hated. Did I learn to tune them out at a young age? Or am I just an idiot who’s easily satisfied? It’s certainly not genetic; there’s a long family history of hating announcers. One of my earliest memories is of my grandfather calling Brett Musberger “cheeseburger.” The only guy I really can’t stand is Troy Aikman, but that’s because he openly roots against the Giants.
5:38: CC continues to stink. Here comes Dave Eiland for a chat. The main problem as far as I can see is a complete inability to throw his fastball for a strike. Now Greg Zaun is blatantly trying to bunt, but CC seems determined to impose his will and walk him instead. Pitch count shows CC has thrown more balls than strikes. Awful.
5:43: The Orioles take advantage of Johnny Damon’s little girl arm to advance to third with one out.
5:44: Double play bails us out of the 4th. Still 3-1. CC looks pissed at himself, which is a good sign. In other news, the Ibuprofen is wearing off and my face has that irritating prickly-hot feeling. (I almost went with, “my face feels like a porcupine’s love seat,” and then I realized I’m not a lame 65-year old local newspaper humorist.) I left the pills at work, so if I start getting grumpy, you know why.
5:47: CC is doing some weird hot-pad thing on the bench. Michael Kay is anxious. My friend Geoff just sent me a google message. “Sabathia sucks.” Meanwhile, Guthrie is mowing us down. The year is off to a good start.
5:49: Adam Jones tries to be Willie Mays by attempting a basket catch, and discovers that he is, in fact, Adam Jones. Triple for the Damonator.
5:51: Guthrie throws a 3-2 pitch to Texeira right down the middle. Inexplicably, it’s called ball four. The hatred for Tex grows, which seemed impossible. Matsui bails everyone out with a weak infield fly.
5:59: If this game were a song, the chorus would be “CC still stinks.” And it would be sung every inning. The verses would be the Yankee hitters letting a mediocre pitcher dominate. It would be called “The Shit Song” or “I Wish This Game Had Been Rained Out” or “The Day the Enthusiasm Died.”
6:01: Albaldejo warms up in the pen. 4-1 Os, no outs. More speculation about the hot pad CC keeps using between innings. If he’s hurt this early in the year, I’ll probably just go back to work, take the rest of the Ibuprofen, and be done with this farce we call life. (And here I was, hoping to avoid suicide jokes before June.)
6:05: Ransom makes a huge error on a potential double play ball. Remember that delightful quip I made an hour ago about not needing A-Rod? Forgive me. I was young. That was a different time. People were saying all kinds of things. How could I have known? It was the culture of the day…
6:09: Luke Scott is up with the bases loaded. I had him on my fantasy team last year for about three weeks, and he absolutely killed me. If he gets a hit here, it’ll be salt in the wound.
6:10: CC can’t strike anyone out. He keeps throwing the fading curve that ends up in the dirt, and hitters just aren’t biting. 4 shitty curves later, Scott walks and we’re down 6-1…andddd that’ll be all for CC!
6:16: Gardner makes a brilliant throw to nail Mora at the plate. Huge double play to keep us in “striking distance,” kinda. Nice quick work by Albaldejo. Come on offense, let’s go to work.
6:20: Posada goes yard! Nice. Great stroke, 420 foot bomb to deep center. Replays of Gardner’s throw from last inning show that Posada didn’t lay the tag on time. Mora should have been safe. We certainly can’t complain about the calls today.
6:24: After Cano’s walk, X-Man doubles to left and Sweet Robbie comes around to score. 6-3. That call at home is shaping up to be big.
6:25: Ransom watches a fat curve go down the middle for a backward K. Memo to Girardi and Cashman: how hurt, really, is A-Rod? Let’s get him in some spikes and see what happens! Life is too precious to waste on rehabilitation.
6:30: Xavier Nady and his hawk-like nose get caught off third base when Jeter’s single gets knocked down in the infield. Instead of putting up a fight, he casually takes off his batting gloves and helmet while Mora applies the tag. Don’t over-extend yourself, X. God forbid you get in a rundown, something crazy happens, and the inning goes on…
6:31: Speaking of rundowns, does anyone else call them a “pickle”? That was our word growing up, but I’ve never heard it again. Maybe it was limited to the Adirondack Mountains. Or maybe my family and community were playing an elaborate joke on me that finally paid off.
6:32: The “Toyota Text Poll” results are in!!! Who will win the AL East, according to viewers of the YES network, home of the New York Yankees? With 90%, the winner is…THE NEW YORK YANKEES! YESSSSS!!!
6:45: The Yankee pen, featuring Phil Coke, gets through the 6th. 6-3 O’s. There is still time. THERE IS STILL TIME.
6:48: Damon leads off with a base hit of someone named “Ray” from the Oriole pen. Texeira gets up, and the boos seem to be affecting him. Lame fly-out to third base. Michael Kay wonders what the fans are upset about, since the Orioles were never seriously in the bidding. Singleton thinks it’s because he’s a hometown boy. Give these guys enough time, and they will solve any mystery.
6:50: GODZILLA!!!! Matsui goes yard, and we got ourselves a game! 6-5. It’s nice to see Hideki hit a bomb like that, because he looks like he’s about sixty years old. I keep expecting him to bring a stoop out to the plate, break out one of those long Japanese pipes, and start telling stories about the Samurai era. (Please note: that was a history joke, not a racist one.)
6:58: Sweet Robbie laces one to center. First and second, one out. The Oriole bullpen seems to be folding. Who knew?
7:03: Nady, reaching Sabathia levels of struggle, hits into a double play with two men on. Inning over, Yanks down one going into the seventh inning stretch.
7:06: CC’s final line: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 BB, 0 K.
7:09: Orioles manager Dave Trembley has the perfect look for a baseball manager. Solid build, stoic face, still bearing. He’s wearing a black coat with the collar up, and when he walks out to the mound, almost his entire profile is concealed. Lots of character, lots of solemnity. He gets a 9/10 on the Torre Scale of managerial gravitas.
7:12: Phil Coke mows ‘em down, and Cody Ransom will lead off the eighth. I’ve got a feeling this is the inning that’ll put us over the top. The odds of the Oriole bullpen pitching two scoreless innings seem absolutely astronomical to me at this point. By the way, this game has a fighting chance of making the 4-hour mark.
7:15: Swisher pinch-hits and slices a ground rule double to left. My cousin Justin loves this guy, mostly because of an interview he heard on WFAN where Swisher demonstrated an absurd amount of enthusiasm. To me, he sounded like a lunatic. But if that’s what it takes, I’m all for it. Let’s get weird.
7:17: With Pena on third (pinch runner for the Swish) and one out, Jeter hits a weak grounder to short. The infield’s in, and Pena has to hold. Two down. DAMMIT JETER. I feel like I saw this happen a lot last year. Leaving men on base is so infuriating, especially because Jeter chased a bad pitch early in the count when he could have been patient and waited for a ball to lift. Not good baseball, DJ.
7:20: Damon walks, and the boos rain down…you know what that means! Texeira time! How great would it be, after an underwhelming game, if he put us over the top here?
7:21: But he grounds out to second, and the hatred spills down from Camden Yards. I’m almost happy for these clowns. They didn’t need another reason to hate themselves…they still have the entire eastern half of their city. (I can say that without fear now that Omar’s dead.)
7:30: Izturis goes yard, with a little help from some godless bastard in the stands who pushes Damon’s glove. The fact that the offending fan lost the ball to a guy two seats to his right and looked absolutely devastated at his fate eased my anger. Unfortunately, the score is now 8-5, and this one’s probably in the books.
7:41: Bruney enters, walks a couple, and leaves. Thanks for dropping by, Brian. Bases juiced, still in the bottom of the 8th, two down. I’m getting bored, and just googled “avocados taste like almonds.” I thought that would be a winner, but internet support for my discovery is scarce.
7:45: Huff doubles off Marte, and the Yanks are done like dinner.
7:55: Ten minutes later, this baby is history, just shy of four hours. The Birds doubled us up, 10-5.
7:56: Not a great result, but there are 162 games in this crazy season. CC looked like hell, but by the time the warm weather hits, he’ll be fine. The offense missed some opportunities, but I still believe that when things start clicking, we’ll be a juggernaut. Notice the structure of the last three sentences: negative negative negative…BUT…hope hope hope hope. Kinda like Obama, if he only half-believed what he was saying. Oh well. Time to grab a beer and watch Psycho T and the gang break the hearts of Blue Devil Nation.