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Roger Clemens

It was a marathon weekend for me, with all four ball teams I regularly follow on television, playing against one another, no less. The Yankees came West to meet the SF Giants on their home field for the first time since the 1962 World Series, and the Oakland A’s flew back East to confront the Mets. As my son says whenever his team wins, it was “a proud, proud weekend” for the Mets. For the Bronx Bombers, it was another story.

The Yankees needed to win, and win, and win—but they won, and lost, and lost. They lost against a team that’s doing so badly they’re already out of contention for post-season play, and they put on an abysmal show of incompetence. I mean, there they are in the 8th inning, with a score of 4 to 1 Giants, so they still have a chance, and what do they do? First Jeter bobbles the ball, allowing another run to come in; then Melky Cabrera bobbles not once but twice, giving another two runners time to cross home plate. With a score of 7 to 1, any possibility of a Yankee miracle is fast disappearing. Sigh. At least I got to see Roger Clemens in action for the first time in years.

I wasn’t the only one having a reunion—Saturday ceremonies at the Giants’ stadium celebrated that ’62 World Series, with guys who played for both teams present and accounted for. It was one of the few times I’ve seen Joe Torre get really happy, applauding his heroes and greeting old friends; he and Willie Mays shared an effusive hug.

Members of the 1962 Yankees mob Ralph Terry after the final out of Game 7. (AP Photo)

Enough warm fuzzies; back to the competition: on Friday night the Mets easily beat the A’s by a hefty 8 runs; the final score was 9-1. Tom Glavine, the Mets pitcher, is going for the 300th game of his career, and Friday’s win was #296. In San Francisco, the Yankees started off well and beat the Giants with a score of 7-3.

His team may have lost, but Barry Bonds hit another big one, moving an inch closer to Hank Aaron’s home run record (he needs six more to tie, seven to surpass it). Everywhere except in his home town fans boo him for his arrogance, and for lying about steroids. The anticipated record-breaking seems to be dreaded by everyone in the baseball world. Commissioner Bud Selig hasn’t decided if he’ll be there when Bonds makes the hit; Hank Aaron says he’s going to be as far away as possible. I know I shouldn’t feel sorry for the creep, but in a couple of weeks his own team will host the All-Star Game…and Bonds himself might not get enough votes to play in it. Isn’t that sad? I’m not fond of the guy—I’ve been known to boo and sneer myself— but this All Star thing has me feeling sorry for him, so I actually went and voted for him a few times. (Voting goes on for another six days or so, with 25 votes per person allowed, so go make your voice heard. First read my post, Vote for Jorge!)

Alex Rodriguez, despite one hit after another this weekend, couldn’t save the Yankees.

Bonds and A-Rod connected on a deep level when they met this weekend—which totally makes sense, since they’re the two best hitters in the game, and both have endured intense fan hostility. According to the New York Times, “the two superstars came together … exchanging hugs, handshakes and knowing smiles. Anyone watching them would have assumed that they get together all the time. In fact, Bonds…and Rodriguez were preparing for their first regular-season game against each other in six years. They are not good friends so much as they are staunch advocates and long-distance admirers.”

BarryBonds and Alex Rodriguez

On Saturday the Yankees and Giants played earlier than the Mets and A’s, and we missed the first six innings of the latter because the former were still going at it—the game went 13 innings and lasted over four and a half hours. Ay, caramba! Daryl adores extra-inning games, but I can’t stand them. Maybe I’d feel differently if they were exciting—but once they pass nine innings, games tend to go endlessly without a hit. Every batter, Giants as well as Yankees, seemed hell-bent on delivering the walk-off run; in going for glory, they ended up flying and popping out. At one point the Yankees loaded the bases with just one out, and Hideki Matsui came to the plate. All he had to do was bunt to get a runner in…but nooooo! He suddenly saw himself as the Sultan of Grand Slams…and ended up striking out. Next came Robinson Cano, who popped out, stranding the runners. Onward we soldiered. The hours of tedium, from my perspective, were all for naught: the Giants scored the winning run. (I have a bone to pick about the rules regarding the ending of extra-inning games, but I’ll save it for some time when I don’t have so much to talk about).

Hideki Matsui

The Mets and A’s were in the sixth inning of a pitchers’ duel (I know, baseball aficionados love these, they represent the epitome of skillfulness. But they still bore me.). The game remained scoreless until the 9th inning, when David Wright hit a single and batted in the winning run. It was another ‘proud proud day’ in Queens, but a shameful one for those who hail from the Bronx.

Paul LoDuca and David Wright

Sunday’s festivities went along in a similar manner. The boys over at Shea got started early, and the Mets easily swept the A’s with a final score of 10-2 …while here in the Bay Area the Yankees staggered and stumbled their way to another humiliating loss. Not even Joe Torre’s drastic decision to send in The Rocket in the 7th could save them, what with Jeter bobbling on second base (A-Rod mysteriously took Jeter’s position as shortstop today) and Melky Cabrera fumbling in the outfield. The Giants took it 7 to 2.

Unhappy as I am about the weekend’s results, I’m even more crazed, as I get from time to time, by Joe Girardi and Thom Brennamann, Saturday’s announcers. They’re certainly not the first to ignore the game in favor of idle chatter—but this time they really took it to an extreme. They spent an inordinate amount of time interviewing Giants staff, showing tapes of old Giants games, and running us through the whole Giants hagiography. They did all this while the game was going on, that is, they did not show portions of the game! I had to pull it up on my computer to find out who was at bat and who on base. How can they be allowed to do this? Isn’t it their job to call the game that’s being played in front of them? As I said, they aren’t the first announcers to pull this shit—Jon Miller and Joe Morgan are the worst offenders—but I absolutely cannot stand it.

While we’re on the subject of short tempers, the Giants’ new manager Bruce Bochy got kicked out of Saturday’s game for arguing with an umpire—unremarkable–except that it was the third time this season. Paul LoDuca, the Mets catcher, got kicked out of the same game for the same reason—he was so agitated that several of his teammates had to drag him away before he ended up getting suspended.

One moment on Sunday was so thrilling it made up for all my complaints. On the first at-bat of the game Jose Reyes, the Mets shortstop, who at 22 is marked for greatness, hit the ball into the right infield corner on the first pitch, and started running. He passed first…got to second, saw the ball had gotten away from the infielders, kept going…hit third base and, without even bothering to look back, ran like the wind, straight on home. That’s the way I remember the game being played when I was a kid: the batter hit the ball, then ran as fast and as far as he could before the other team stopped him. These days they usually decide where to stop based on where the ball goes—and most runners would’ve stopped at first base, at most second, on Reyes’ corner hit. He was laughing with joy when he reached the dugout, high as a kite—and so was I. That’s baseball for you: just when you want to kill someone for an error, someone else goes and does something wonderful. Made my day.

Jose Reyes


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