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Game 2 of the World Series, Running Diary-Style
October 30, 2009 - John Whittaker
For NFL picks, check www.whitlesswonder2.blogspot.com around 2 p.m. Saturday. Between the running diary, getting ready for Election Day and the thought of the Lions playing the Rams, my head is spinning!
One of the things that stinks about my job is, sometimes, having to work at night even though I'd love to be at home, sipping on a cold Sam Adams, watching a ballgame.
So it was that Wednesday night, with the Yankees in the World Series, I was at work, laying out pages for Thursday's newspaper, running to a car accident and typing obituaries.
After missing the first game of the World Series, I knew what I had to do Thursday night -- a running diary of Game 2. Without further ado, here's Game 2 through the eyes of the Whitless Wonder.
7:35 p.m.: Alicia Keyes and Jay-Z are gracing centerfield for, well, I don't know what they hell they're there for. Maybe I'm getting old, but can we just play the game? Do we need to see a pre-game musical act
7:38: As if the Yankees in the World Series wasn't enough to get me to watch, here's Ozzie Guillen on the set of the Fox pre-game show. This just got interesting. Over/under on unintelligible words in the 20 minute pre-game show -- 205. Number of Fox executives hoping Ozzie doesn't go into a profanity-laced tirade about his coffee getting too cold and racking up $100 million in FCC fines -- 600. Number of happy Whitless Wonders just thinking about the endless possibilities? ONE!
7:39: First footage of a Who's Your Daddy chant while Pedro Martinez stretches in the outfield before the game. Leave it to Fox - they leave no angle beaten to a bloody pulp.
7:42: I think Ozzie just said either somebody can't be Babe Ruth, or something about Beirut. I can't tell. My TV doesn't come with an Ozzie Guillen setting.
7:45: Mark Grace's key to the game: The Yankees bats need to wake up. Eric Karros is talking about how important the bullpens are - and, as we shall see, he hit the mark on that one. I have no idea what Ozzie was talking about - I couldn't understand it. Could we hire a deaf mute to be on the pre-game show? It'd help Fox balance the budget and probably make more sense to a fan who isn't in pre-school, too.
7:53: John Legend comes out to sing the national anthem. I've never heard of him.
7:55: Wanda Sykes is coming to late night. Great. A whole night of crappy commercials featuring Wanda Sykes, whose voice is like fingernails on a blackboard. Who gets cancelled first -- Wanda Sykes or George Lopez?
7:59: Our announcers tonight are Joe Buck and Tim McCarvey, who are a sign that naked pictures of television executives can take you really far in the world of sports broadcasting. At least they're not Suzyn Waldman and John Sterling.
8 p.m.: Is it too late to take back that Waldman/Sterling comment. It took less than 30 seconds for McCarver to latch on to the Pedro angle of the game, calling it "one of the greatest stories in World Series history."
I'll agree that Pedro pitching in the World Series again is A story, but are we taking this a little too far? He appeared in one World Series and wasn't his team's ace in that one. He signed a fat free agent contract, got old and injured, and now he's a big deal in this World Series? There are a ton of storylines, but something tells me we're hearing about nothing but Pedro tonight.
Let me go get the 2-by-4 so I can beat myself repeatedly throughout the night.
8 01: So, Wayne's World 2 is culturally relevant enough to make a Direct TV ad? Really? Not the original Wayne's World movie, not the sketch from Saturday Night Live, not Caddyshack or Blazing Saddles? We're going with Wayne's World 2? Makes perfect sense.
Top of the first inning: A.J. Burnett gets off to a strong start, pouring first-pitch strikes to all Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Chase Utley. Even better, the News Wife rips into Victorino after he strikes out looking. I can't exactly repeat what she said, but let's just say I'm so proud right now.
Bottom of the first: Pedro Martinez is described as a croupier by Tim McCarver. Googling …. Googling … googling … There it is. A croupier is a casino employee who takes and pays out bets or otherwise assists at a card game. I hate Tim McCarver.
Speaking of Pedro - more "Who's Your Daddy" chants. Of course, Pedro then whiffs Derek Jeter on an 88 mile an hour fastball, strikes out Johnny Damon on a changeup and gets Mark Texeira to hit his 792nd pop up to the right side of the postseason. Eight years, $180 million, 500 towering pop flies a season. Yeah, my Mark Texeira bitterness scale is off the charts right now.
Top of the second: Burnett keeps getting ahead of hitters with the fastball, striking out Ryan Howard. It's amazing how dead the crowd is right now - it's like they're waiting for something bad to happen. It's way too quiet in the stadium after Burnett struck out a guy with 45 home runs on the season. Jayson Werth, who looks like WWE wrestler The Edge, grounds out to A-Rod for the second out before Raul Ibanez gets fooled on a curveball and pops a double down the left field line. Matt Stairs, who's at least 107 years old and looks like an out of work porn star, steps away from his walker and drills a fastball past A-Rod at third base.
Well, there's the something bad the fans were waiting for. You could hear a pin drop in Yankee Stadium right now.
Pedro Feliz strikes out to end the inning. 1-0, Philadelphia.
Bottom of the second: Anyone who watches TV with me knows I hate commericals - so, Survivor update time! Without seeing much of this week's episode, it looks like Foa Foa is struggling again, and apparently has lost a reward challenge to Galu. At least I tuned in long enough to see Russell make his soliloquy about how he's the master and someone on his tribe is an idiot. I hope he wins. He lies, he's manipulative and he's got a great Southern accent - don't tell me he's paying his taxes if he wins. Russell, meet Richard Hatch.
Time to flip back over to the game. A-Rod is frozen on a 2-2 curveball for the strikeout. I'm trying to bite my lip and not say something I'll regret about Rodriguez right now.
Tooth through lip.
Hideki Matsui waits on a changeup and singles to right field, followed by, in no particular order, our first Pedro Martinez-Don Zimmer clip, Grady Little leaving Pedro in too long in the 2003 playoffs and blowing a game to the Yankees, Pedro saying he'll drill the Bambino, me blacking out and Pedro saying the Yankees are his daddy. One of those clips is amusing.
Cano quickly goes down 0-2 in the count before ripping a sinking line drive to left that is …. Caught by Raul (F—————ing) Ibanez. Not only did I not keep him in fantasy this year (a decision that did me a lot of good when his HGH shipment came in during May) but now he's robbing Cano of hits in the World Series. Raul Ibanez, the gift that keeps on taking candy from little babies.
Jerry Hairston, starting in place of the deceased Nick Swisher, flies out to right to end the inning.
Top of the third: Carlos Ruiz is retired on one pitch. Now, with Rollins up and a 1-2 count, the crowd is doing absolutely nothing. I swear, this crowd took NyQuil before the game, because they are comatose. Do we need a Rally Madoff? Thunder syringes? Tell me, I'm begging you.
Rollins walks, which is perfect karma for the fans doing nothing with two strikes on a dangerous hitter. Victorino bounces a chopper back to Burnett for the second out, and Chase Utley walks -- the mild chorus of boos to Utley is the most noise the crowd has made all night.
There's nothing better than pricing knowledgeable fans out of the stadium so the best seats are filled by people who have no idea what's going on. What does a billion dollars buy you ? A lame postseason crowd. This never would have happened if George Steinbrenner was still alive.
Ryan Howard strikes out to end the inning, making the News Gal instantly happy. "Way to go, Allen James."
Bottom of the third inning: The crazy woman who lives downstairs from me is yelling at her kids - it's about time we heard something during this game.
Melky Cabrera has the second hard-hit ball of the game for the Yankees, but it's right at Victorino in centerfield. Jose Molina works a walk to give the Yanks their second baserunner, but Jeter strikes out and Damon hits a fly ball to right that only has warning track power.
I'm starting to wonder how fast I can get a shipment of HGH to the Bronx.
Top of the fourth: Burnett falls behind 3-0 to Werth before battling back with two strikes. What's amazing is how much movement Burnett's fastball has tonight. Molina's setting up outside, the ball ends up inside. Molina sets up inside, the ball ends up outside. Crash Davis might have been a good choice to catch tonight -- "I don't know where it's going. I swear to God."
Werth singles to right, but, with Ibanez up, Molina shows off his arm on a snap-throw to first that actually gets Werth. My god, that's Edge's music! Ibanez strikes out, and now the crowd is stirring -- either they liked the strikeout, or Kate Hudson's naked again. Stairs flies to left to end the inning.
Bottom of the fourth: GET SOME! Texeira pops one up to deep, deep right for a leadoff home run to tie the game. "FINALLY," sayeth the News Wife. "I'm terrible. I give that man so much crap."
Well, she has a bit of a history with Texeira. He replaced Jason Giambi, her favorite player, took his number and his position, and will probably win the MVP this year. She and Texeira have had an Ike and Tina Turner history this season. Right now, they're singing Rolling on the River before a packed house.
A-Rod lines out to left field, Matsui walks, Cano flies to center to continue struggling in this posteason -- and brings out an excellent point by Tim, because the .150 batting average wasn't a HUGE tipoff. Hairston strikes out to end the inning. Game tied at 1.
Top of the fifth: After Pedro Feliz is retired on one pitch, Ruiz doubles off the wall on a hanging fastball, quieting the crowd. Burnett gets two strikes on Rollins, and the crowd remembers that Yankee fans cheer with two strikes on opposing hitters. How many times did they have to flash that on the video board?
Rollins strikes out on a curveball, and Victorino pops up to third to end the inning.
Bottom of the fifth: Cabrera strikes out and Molina rolls out to shortstop before Jeter rips a double off the left field wall. It's time to put in cheesesticks for the News Wife and some pizza rolls for me - how's that for faith in Damon ending this inning? Sure enough, he hits a pop fly to first base.
Top of the sixth: Utley leads off and grounds out to Texeira at first. Nothing better than baseball, pizza rolls doused in hot sauce and Ryan Howard striking out again. Howard had no clue at the plate right now. I think he needs to buy a vowel. Werth flies out to Cabrera to end the inning.
Bottom of the sixth: Nice to see David Spade making a little money off of Tommy Boy in a Direct TV commercial. Just a note, there Weasel Boy, the Fat Guy in a Little Coat scene wasn't funny because of you - it was all about Chris Farley. Hopefully, you buy an eight ball and a hooker with the money you're making in memory of your friend.
Back to the game, Texeira and A-Rod strike out. Thank God Texeira homered last time up, because Texeira might not have made it out of Yankee Stadium tonight otherwise.
Matsui comes up, takes two strikes and a ball, spoils an off-speed pitch on the outside corner and then drills a home run to right field. "He's been on his s——t tonight," the News Gal says. Glad she did, because McCarver and Buck say little about Matsui's good night so far. Cano flies out to right to end the inning. Yankees 2, Philadelphia 1.
Top of the seventh: "Whatever happens in the rest of the seventh inning, A.J. Burnett has turned in an outstanding night." Thanks Tim. If you jinx Burnett now, I will personally pee in your next batch of Botox.
Luckily for McCarver, Burnett strikes out Ibanez and Stairs on backdoor curveballs and gets Feliz to ground out to Jeter. Beautiful effort from Burnett, who has to be done for the night. The big question now is if Joe Girardi trusts Joba Chamberlain/Phil Hughes to get out of the eighth, or if Mariano Rivera comes in for two innings to close the game.
Bottom of the seventh: Pedro's still in? Haven't we seen this before?
I swear, I had an argument at work Thursday with Chris Kinsler, our region editor, that Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in for the seventh inning of Game 6 in 2003 was a mistake because everyone knows Pedro gets lit up after 100 pitches. He just does. At that point of his career, when the odometer hits 100, Pedro breaks down like a 1982 Datsun. Kinsler said he didn't' have a problem with the move.
Sure enough, fast forwarding back to 2009, Hairston leads off with a ripped single off of Martinez. Brett Gardner pinch-runs for Hairston, and Melky Cabrera rips a hit-and-run single to get Gardner to third base with no outs.
Great managing by Joe Girardi. I wasn't sure about pinch-running Gardner, since Hairston's not exactly slow, and I've seen hit-and-runs backfire in these situations in the past, but Girardi's pulling the right strings tonight.
Jorge Posada pinch-hits for Jose Molina, prompting Charlie Manuel to pull Martinez two hitters too late … and to a smattering of Who's Your Daddy chants and boos. Hey, the crowd's back! Manuel brings in Chan Ho Park, featuring the beard Jon Cryer wore in Hiding Out (you know, the one where he's a stock broker who's hiding from the mob, goes back to high school with his cousin and gets into all sort of old guy/teenage hijinks. Anway, see the beard in the photos above). Park promptly gives up an RBI single to Posada for a two-run lead. Perfect managing by Girardi, and a lesson for Charlie Manuel - never trust a guy who looks like Jon Cryer with a beard.
Now, runners at first and second, no outs and Jeter at the plate. Jeter bunts with two strikes? Huh? That sound you just heard was my remote hitting the back of my couch.
Scott Eyre gets Johnny Damon to hit into a double play to end the inning, only it wasn't a double play. Ryan Howard speared Damon's line drive on a short hop, so Posada was safe on second base. The umpires blow the call, and the Yankees' big inning ends with one run.
Top of the eighth: It's MO TIME! What's this say about Girardi's faith in the eighth-inning duo of Chamberlain and Hughes? Mariano, who turns 40 in November, coming in for his 17th two-inning appearance this posteason because the middle relief has been doing its Nick Swisher impression since the Angels series.
Mariano gets Ruiz to ground out, and then a long at-bat for Rollins that ends in a walk. Victorino gets a typical Rivera hit - a jam shot that takes 473 bounces to get through the hole between first and second to put runners on first and second with one out. At least Melky Cabrera, moving over to right field, kept Rollins at second base to keep the double play in order. And, just like I ordered it, Chase Utley grounds into a 4-6-3 double play. The News Wife celebrates by going to bed.
11 p.m.: Trying to avoid my third viewing of the Wanda Sykes promo, I flip over to Family Gun on the Cartoon Network during the commercial break just to see Peter starting to build a theater in his back yard, finding a skull and kicking off a hillarious Poltergeist spoof. Seth McFarlane is a fricking genius.
Bottom of the eighth: Texeira gets hit by Ryan Madson, followed by another strikeout for Alex Rodriguez, whose bandwagon is careening into a ditch. Madson retires Matsui, but Cano singles to right to put runners on first and second and bring Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee out of the dugout to talk to Madson. Does anyone realize his name sounds like dooby? This makes me laugh for 10 minutes as Gardner strikes out on a changeup.
Top of the ninth: After catching Peter throwing tennis balls through the portal in Meg's butt, Mariano strikes out Ryan Howard and the artist also known as Jayson Werth hits a humpback liner to Cano for two quick outs. Ibanez, though, doubles to left-center to put the tying run at the plate. What does it say when I'm more scared of Matt Stairs in a key spot than I am Ryan Howard? You can hear a pin drop in Yankee Stadium, or at least, you could before Mariano struck out Stairs on a low cutter. Yankees win, 2-1.
What Did We Learn?
1. Pedro Martinez is still a prick.
After the game, a game he lost, by the way, he said this: "I know they really want to root for me. It's just that I don't play for the Yankees. They love the fact that I compete. I'm a New Yorker, as well. If I was on the Yankees, I'd probably be like a king over here."
Really, Pedro? You'd be a king. They're booing you because they can't stand you. You pitched for their most hated rival, executed a hip toss on a 78-year-old and then justified it by saying he said something about your mother and stole Erik LaSalle's jeri curl from Coming to America. Do you really think Yankees fans like you?
2. If the Yankees get seven innings out of their starting pitchers, the only reliever you'll see is Mariano Rivera for the rest of the postseason.
If there is one lesson for Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes to take away from watching Cliff Lee and Martinez hold the Yankees to four runs over two games, it's that they need to believe in their stuff. Martinez topped out at 88 miles an hour on Thursday and still made A-Rod look clueless at the plate. Hughes and Chamberlain have better pure stuff, but are afraid to pitch to contact, which leads to walks and big innings.
Mariano, on the other hand, has been on this stage before and, except for a jammed single over a drawn-in infield in Game 7 in 2001, never falters.
3. Wanda Sykes is getting a late-night talk show.
What the heck is going on with crappy comedians getting late-night shows? Wanda Sykes, Jimmy Fallon, Craig Ferguson and George Lopez have late-night shows, and none of them are funny. A note to my friends at Fox - if you're that desperate to have a late-night show, why don't you bite the bullet and hire Lewis Black, Denis Leary or Colin Quinn to host it?
Wanda Sykes? Really? I guess I'll be watching more Family Guy reruns at 11 p.m.
4. Don't ever, ever leave Pedro Martinez in a game past 100 pitches.
I won the argument with Kinsler. Bill Simmons and the statheads were right. Bad things happen when Pedro is left in the game after 100 pitches. The man threw a great game, but the Yankees had an insurance run because Charlie Manuel left Pedro in two hitters too long.
5. This series depends on Game 5.
Andy Pettitte vs. Cole Hamels is, at worst, a draw for the Yankees, and any Yankees fan who doesn't feel insanely comfortable with Pettitte against the struggling Hamels, the hero of last year's World Series, is lying. Game 4 is C.C. Sabathia against Joe Blanton - another game I'd feel comfortable with if I'm a Yankees fan. If Chad Gaudin throws a decent game in Game 5, the Yankees are set up with Burnett and Sabathia to close the series, with Pettitte available for bullpen work. All Gaudin needs to do is throw 5-6 serviceable innings and hopefully take a lead to the bullpen. If he gets blown up, with Cliff Lee waiting in the wings, the Yankees could be in trouble.
Personally, I'm feeling pretty good about this series.
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It's amazing how much this picture resembles Chan Ho Park. How do you feel trusting a late-game situatio to that guy, huh? Apparently, it's fine with Charlie Manuel.