That ball, which Jerry Hairston, Jr. beholds with such forlorn carriage in the picture above, followed hot on the heels of another that went between his legs with two down in the seventh and Dandy Andy only seven outs removed from a perfect game. After the miscue, the Baltimore wind ceased propelling the Yankee sails, and the next batter slapped a cheap single down the line to ruin the no-hitter. In the 8th, Melvin Mora hit a solo shot to ruin the shut-out.
In these scenarios, you have that moment of total let-down, followed by a lengthier period of annoyance, but the lasting emotion will always be pity.
"I don't know how many big-leaguers there are; 750 or 725?" Hairston said. "Nobody feels worse tonight than me."
As of today, September 1st, the day when rosters expand to 40, there are 1,200 players in Major League Baseball. And Jerry's the leader of the goat pack. But forgiveness comes easy; Andy still got the win, the Yanks are a season-high 35 games over .500 with the best record in baseball, and Derek Jeter is about to make history by becoming the all-time Yankee hit leader. This has been a terrific year, and some day soon I'll have to run down the highlights. There's no staying mad at Erry Errorston when things are going so well.
Speaking of roster expansion, welcome back Francisco Cervelli!
You have been missed.
Oh, one other point: Thursday, the Giants play New England in the final pre-season game. There's a reason I haven't written about the games yet- I don't like pre-season football. I wouldn't go so far as to call it meaningless, but the weird quasi-importance leaves me unsettled and vaguely depressed. Am I supposed to react passionately when the starters only play for a series, or a quarter, or a half. Should I be wearing my Eli or Corey Webster jersey?
To be honest, I haven't watched more than five minutes of the pre-season. I just can't care. A friend of mine, frustrated in his attempt to get a sense of the Giants prospects this year through conversation with me, said something like, "you're not that big a Giants fan, are you?" The subtle knock was that I'm not a true fan because I don't follow the front office stuff, the draft, or the pre-season with any real alacrity.
But I won't apologize for that; in case you haven't noticed from this blog, I'm in sports for the passion, the competition, the players, and the drama. Those elements can be boiled down and incorporated under one over-arching principle: fun. The reason I don't follow off-season stuff is the same reason I don't follow the stock market, or worry about WalMart's quarterly earnings- it's not fun to me. It's business. Business is necessary, I get it, but business is also sort of a gray sludge.
Which, again, is my perspective, and I think it's great when fans are so into their teams that they keep an eye on the minutiae. But that ain't my bag. As a kid, I remember fans lamenting the fact that sports had become an unrepentant money-making venture, that some imagined 'purity' had been lost in the modern era. Now, it's in vogue for fans to embrace the business aspect.
Both extremes are unappealing to me; I love that money and advertising has made professional athletics so ubiquitious that I can basically see anything I want from the comfort of home, for a price. And I don't think the profit motive has ever really been absent from sports, at least in recent memory. But I also don't want to immerse myself in the parts that aren't intricately tied to that idea, however tenuous, of purity.
Parallels: I love books, and great ones make me curious about the authors, but I don't give a fuck about literary agents or publishing houses. I love music, but I'll gladly not consider the inner workings of record companies for the balance of this life. I love my family, and I have pictures of them scattered around my apartment, but I don't want to ever see them in person or hear their voices on a telephone. (Kidding, family!)
Basically, I have a limited amount of time to dedicate to entertainment or art. So give me the product. When sports transcend the money aspect, I'm on board. In the NFL, that phase begins in week 1. That's when there are stakes. That's when my blood pressure spikes and I'm prone to yell and moan and sulk and set upon my confreres with glad cries. That's when I'm engaged.
That having been said, Thursday's preseason clash is of particular interest to me, and for a very good reason:
BILL BELICHICK IS PLANNING SOMETHING SINISTER.
1) Bill Belichick is a great coach.
2) Bill Belichick is a huge, vain asshole.
3) Bill Belichick is a proven cheat.
4) Bill Belichick has no conscience.
5) Bill Belichick's main failure was the Super Bowl loss to the Giants, a team you could tell he and his minions thought far inferior, creating the first real cinematic battle of good versus evil in American sports, complete with a script-like ending right up to the part where the main villain sulked off the field before the game was actually over like a corrupted taciturn human being with the enormous tragic flaw of arrogance for whom the idea of being outplayed is anathema to a self-deceiving degree resulting in an inability to look inward for real assessment resulting further in a proclivity to blame said loss on rank misfortune or extracurricular collaboration and manifesting as the phenomenon commonly referred to by the formulation "sore losing."
6) Such men, once exposed, fixate on revenge.
7) Since he's already a confirmed cheater, we know he has no scruples.
8) Eli Manning served as the face of the guileless opposition, the hard-working, innocent, good-natured foil to Belichick's conniving ways, restoring the title of Super Bowl Champion (and MVP, ha ha!) to the side of good.
Bill Belichick will order one of his ugly henchmen to hurt Eli Manning. There is no doubt in my mind. I only hope by exposing this conspiracy ahead of time, it can somehow be avoided.
Coughlin: don't play Eli! It's a trap!