Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hey Now, You're an All Star, Get Your Game On, Go Play!

When I woke up this morning, I actually wondered for a few minutes if it had all been a dream.

All Star games aren't supposed to be like that.

Exhibition games aren't supposed to be emotional; they're not supposed to run to the fifteenth inning and they're certainly not supposed to have drama more befitting an October night.

This one, though...

This one was different.

This one, if we pursue the Yankee Stadium :: Cathedral of Baseball metaphor, was supposed to be like the Easter Service at St. Patrick's, and it wasn't just that, but it was the Easter Service at St. Patrick's with the Pope himself leading the festivities.

The pregame ceremonies were emotional on their own; but from the point of view of a Yankees fan, there was nothing more chilling than watching the first pitch, and seeing Reggie Jackson pitch to Alex Rodriguez, Whitey Ford to Derek Jeter, Yogi Berra to Joe Girardi and Goose Gossage to Mariano Rivera.

I don't know how many of you caught it, but it was hitter to hitter, leader to leader, catcher to catcher and reliever to reliever, all of them, the past to the present.

I mean, it even made George Steinbrenner cry, and I'm under the impression that it takes some doing to accomplish that.

The game itself was perhaps one of the best All Star games to have ever been played. Had it ended in the ninth or tenth, and not gone on the extra six innings, we would probably be considering it THE best All Star game, ever.

It felt like a classic October game, with the National League taking a 2-0 lead into the seventh inning, before the ghosts came alive again. I guess it's something about the ghosts--they only come to call in the late innings--and it must have pained them somewhat that the man of the hour, J.D. Drew, wears a Red Sox uniform.

While many Yankees fans were able to cater to their sense of Schadenfreude* in the eighth inning, mocking Jonathan Papelbon with chants of "Mar-i-ano" and "over-rated", the beauty of the entire thing was that the American League was able to tie the game again in the bottom of the inning, rendering the run off of Papelbon irrelevant.

The best moment for Yankees fans, however, had to have been watching Mariano Rivera's entrance in the ninth, followed immediately by a strike out, throw-em-out double play. There's not much more Rivera can add to his resumè, but as 2007 was Alex Rodriguez's year, 2008 has got to be Mariano Rivera's.

Throughout the entire evening, Terry Francona was a model of class.

Say what you want about the Red Sox as a team, or anything you want about the Red Sox players, but Terry Francona should have earned everyone's respect last night. He pulled Jeter and Rodriguez in mid-inning situations so the crowd could applaud, and he let did a similar service by having Mariano Rivera come in the ninth for the last two outs. It's not his fault the AL wasn't leading at the time, and Rivera couldn't get the save.

The game last night was something special. It didn't end at the best possible moment (from a Yankee fan's point of view), but it did end just before it would have turned into a nightmare for Francona and Clint Hurdle.

This is one All Star Game we'll remember for a while, and it's only fitting it happened in Yankee Stadium.

Or maybe it's the other way around.

*Shadenfreude, n, ger. The joy one takes in another's misery.


A few weeks ago, a Red Sox fan with tickets to last night's game asked me if he could do a write up about his experience at the game. I'm not sure when it will be up, but look for it in the next few days.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely share the sentiment with you on the closing of Yankee stadium. Sure the new stadium will attract all the bells and whistles of modern architecture and appeal to many. But tearing the old stadium down is no way to go.

    If you're interested, my buddy mentioned this to me but I don't have the money to play:

    There's a fantasy camp to play in a few weeks in the old yankee stadium.