Friday, October 30, 2009

"The Funnest I've Ever Had"

So this is what the World Series, the real World Series, feels like, huh?

What with the pitching and the timely hitting and the Mariano-ing and the Hoosierdaddy-ing and the mid-game-change-your-luck-Tweetups with Amanda Rykoff and Brent Nycz and the OHMIG-D YOU DID NOT REALIZE PAUL O'NEILL WAS THROWING OUT THE FIRST PITCH!

This is what it feels like.

It feels pretty darn good.

This isn't just baseball.

This is love.

Unlike last night's cold, rainy and windy drudge, tonight felt like October baseball.

There was, first of all, getting off the subway and walking, in the pale, dying sunlight, across the street to the Stadium. There, you find yourself transported to another world, one in which nothing matters except baseball. Nothing.

There was, in the pregame, the Jay Z/Alicia Keys mini-concert.

I'm not even a Jay Z fan, but the show the two put on seemed to set something off: the Stadium came alive, as if, finally, finally, we realized what it is our team has accomplished.

We're here, in the World Series.

We've reached the last round, we will play in the last Major League baseball game on the 2009 calendar; we will play into November.

The National Anthem is sung by John Legend and there's a flyover which goes right over my head, all of which is utterly awesome and makes it hit me again: HEY THIS IS THE WORLD SERIES, but it pales in comparison to the reaction when Paul O'Neill comes out to throw out the first pitch.

We are ready for this game to start.

AJ Burnett takes his warm up tosses not to the 300 soundtrack as normal, but instead to Marilyn Manson.

I don't know if today will be Good AJ or Bad AJ, not yet, but the music choice soothes me: almost every other time I've seen Burnett pitch this season with his normal warm up music, he's been bombed. Maybe the change will do him good.

After a few innings, after the Phillies take a 1-0 lead and Pedro Martinez refuses to let the Yankees do anything besides chant "Who's Your Dad-dy?", Amanda Rykoff and I start texting. She's scored a last second ticket to the game and we're talking about a mid-game tweet-up, along with Brent Nycz, to change the Yankees' luck. We decide: Top of the fourth inning, by section 413.

So, we meet and we walk over to one of the concession stands so I can buy myself some Twizzlers.

We watch the game on the screens, which are about 10 seconds behind the actual play on the field.

We watch AJ Burnett pitch a 1-2-3 inning, and then we watch Mark Teixeira hit a game-tying home run into the Yankees' bullpen, and we decree the tweet-up a success: our luck has been changed.

After we part, Burnett pitches as though he has taken it to another level. Slowly, we stop holding our breath with every pitch AJ throws, and instead begin to long for the next one. It may not be Lee's dominance, but you could have fooled us.

In the seventh inning, the crowd senses that this is something spectacular. So we chant: "AJ! AJ! AJ!"

He dazzles.

Later on, while speaking to reporters, he'll say it's "the funnest I've ever had".

In the bottom of the seventh, with a one run lead, the Yankees threaten for more. With first and third and no one out, a Melky Cabrera singles makes the score 3-1 and knocks Pedro Martinez from the game. Hoosierdaddy!

After a pinch-hitting Jorge Posada reaches, Derek Jeter bunts foul ("I was stupid", he is rumored to have said) and Johnny Damon comes to the plate.

I'll examine this in more detail tomorrow, but from our seats, what we saw was him ground to Ryan Howard, who, without touching first, threw the ball wide of second base. It should have left the Yankees with the bases loaded and no one out, but it was instead ruled a double play.

Somehow, you get the feeling, that it's impossible to conduct a 2009 postseason game without some sort of major umpiring scandal.

Still, the umpires' awful call notwithstanding, the Yankees took no chances, and went straight to Enter Sandman.

With the top of the Phillies' lineup due up in the eighth inning, going to Mariano Rivera is, in terms of, leverage-baby-leverage, a no-brainer. With the off day tomorrow, the Yankees could afford to do it, and so they did.

Rivera did make things a little exciting, but, being the great Mariano, he found a way.

Ball game over, Yankees win, theeeee Yankees win!


I found and purchased a "Got Pie" t-shirt. It's a much better souvenir than the program, which cost $5 more than normal and is mostly a reprint of the LCS program.

I still can't get over the umpires' call in the bottom of the 7th. I will address tomorrow, likely in the afternoon.

Any photo taken after the fourth inning is credit Brent Nycz. The video of the final out (will be uploaded in morning) is credit Amanda Rykoff.