May 31, 2011

Empty Vest Syndrome with Miss Scarlet: The Resignation of Jim Tressel, and What if this ever happened to Duke and Coach K?

So this Memorial Day began with a bombshell – the resignation of the embattled Jim Tressel.  I am not surprised by the result, simply the odd timing.  Ohio State seemed to fight the inevitable for months, so what made them give in now?  There must be additional, indefensible evidence, right? What else could explain this abrupt ending? I mean, since December, President Gee had struck a professional balance of sounding like a teeny bopper at an N’Sync concert and a blustering supporter of Sarah Palin.  Do you remember his infamous press conference where he joked/hoped that Tressel didn’t fire him?  Something had to change for him to grimly accept his resignation now. And something had to force Jim Tressel’s hand for him to knowingly commit potential career suicide. 

I have no connection to Ohio State or the Big Ten or even, let’s be serious, competitive college football.  But I imagine that the students in Columbus are going through somewhat of an Empty Vest Syndrome right now.  I tried to think about what this would be like for me, as a fan and a graduate, if it was (god forbid) Duke and Coach K. The conflicted emotions I would feel. Would I be blind to seemingly damning evidence? Would I make excuses out of passion and loyalty and disbelief?  Would I simply hope he executed the cover-up better than Tressel did?  Would my initial shock morph into disgust, as the penalties screwed us later?  I don’t know. Tressel may be gone, but this mess will (sadly) affect Ohio State for years, if not decades, to come.

I decided to ask my good friend, an OSU grad, who is seriously one of the smartest women I have ever met, as well as a huge sports fan and former Division I athlete.  (I am judgmental about such things, so really, she is that impressive). She was on my infamous porn-stealing softball team, we were lifeguards together, she played volleyball and softball in college, she went to law school at Ohio State on a full ride, and now she is a big-shot attorney in New York City.  I am so happy that she took the time to respond to my emails, half of which were written while running around the Bronx Zoo. 

 JHop: May 30th at 10:37am:  Just heard about Jim Tressel. I was wondering your thoughts. I have no real opinion on Ohio State football, but you guys are a powerhouse every year and a historic program. I am trying to understand what I would feel like if this was Duke and Coach K. Are you surprised? Blindsided? Was there any way around this without him leaving? I can't help but think the only reason he had to go is because the NCAA has additional indefensible evidence. But I would love to know what you think...
Miss Scarlet:  May 30th at 11:17am:  Well to be honest, when everything came out earlier this year that he was complicit in the players' wrongdoing, it was sort of like finding out that Santa Claus wasn't real. We thought we were a program with integrity, a program where Jim Tressel cared about doing things the right way, and not just winning football games (with the caveat that Ohio State fans have no tolerance for losers and he's clearly getting paid to win, etc.). People would point to the fact that players had a summer reading list each year, and he talked about character all the time. And we ate that shit up. He distanced himself from all of the Maurice Clarett nonsense, and we then we were all happy to believe that Tressel was a good leader who would not put up with bullshit.  But that was months ago. At this point, it has just been inevitable. Just rip the band-aid off already. When the emails started come out a few months ago, and it was clear that he knew that they were breaking rules and even participated in trying to cover it up, it was apparent that all of that lip service to sportsmanship and character was just that: lip service. Personally, I think we've all assumed he'd be leaving and it was an issue of when, not if.

And he's quitting now on Memorial Day? If you wanted to bury the story that badly, you might as well have quit on the Monday after we got Osama. The timing just pisses me off. He should have quit when this first came out so we had time to look for a new coach, but now he's waited until after the spring season and this is a really awkward time to be looking for a new coach (They've already named Luke Fickell as the interim coach. Rumor has it that Urban Meyer wants the job at some point, but this is too soon after his "retirement" for him to come back). Like you, I suspect the NCAA must have lots of other bad documents that we haven't seen yet. [Eleven Warriors has a pretty good post about the resignation today.  And The Columbus Dispatch has a nice concise summary of the timeline of events].
  
JHop: May 30th at 1:30pm: I think that we all saw this coming, of course.  We saw it unraveling, getting dirtier, with each passing week and scandalous story.  There were reports of free tattoos, sold memorabilia, and illegal car sales. There were leaked emails and narcotics investigations.  But at the center of it all, the mirage of Jim Tressel – a coach who disguised himself in a reputation of responsibility and ethics – came crashing down.  His book, The Winner’s Manual: For the Game of Life, now reads as a satire of itself.  Still, the school tried to get away with a two-game suspension at first.  And they voiced their support for Tressel during spring meetings, a few weeks ago.  So how did we go from two-game suspension to a volunteered five-game suspension to a forced resignation?  I am baffled by this, yet beyond intrigued.  Few recent mysteries – other than, say, did Casey Anthony kill her kid? (yes) – have captivated me like this Tressel thing. 

Miss ScarletMay 30th at 4:02 pm:  I've been thinking about this more and more today. Honestly, I think I'm starting to blame myself for buying into the whole facade. I think based largely on the family I grew up in (where sports were a major priority), I believe in the myth of the student athlete, and while that myth isn't really true for men's power sports, it is true for the majority of college sports. It is like that cheesy old NCAA commercial about "going pro in something other than _____" (insert sport). The majority of college athletes don't get paid in any form other than scholarships, and for those who make the most of it, that is enough (and means so much – I personally would not be where I am today without college athletics and the NCAA). But will that ever be enough for football/basketball/hockey players who are just buying time until they go pro? Probably not. Yet, I am totally happy to buy into the illusion that they're all playing for the "love of game" or love of school or something equally innocent.

So while I want to believe all of those things, I'm also not blind to what college sports is today: a big business, which is often quite corrupt. And I'm not surprised when it comes out that players are given free rent, cars, etc. I obviously don't want to think any of those things about Ohio State, but I'm sure that with everyone looking into the Buckeyes, we've likely only hit the tip of a very dirty iceberg.

I'm also conflicted because at Ohio State, the football program does a lot for the university. The program makes so much money that it is able to fund the entire athletic department, including all of the women's sports. And I love Ohio State. I love that the school gave me a full scholarship to law school....I love that the faculty are brilliant and also totally approachable....I love that the school is always renovating the campus while maintaining a deep respect for its history...I love that our academic programs have funding to do amazing research projects, including leading the world in the study of climate change.....I love Gordon Gee's bow tie and TBDBITL....I love that no matter where I travel in the world, I will see someone with an Ohio State sweatshirt and I will say "O H" and they will respond "I O." I love tailgating on crisp fall afternoons before screaming at the top of my lungs with my 105,000 closest friends and then singing "Carmen Ohio" along with the team after a victory. Buckeye football is quintessentially Ohio State, but the school is so much more than just football.

And I guess I feel that sense of defensiveness you feel when someone attacks your family. You wish you could just keep the corruption in house and handle it internally, but you know that the dirty laundry is getting ready to go out on the line. I honestly just wish this information could be released like a flood....let's get it all out in the open and get it over with. But as these things go, I am SURE that it will be a slow trickle of bad info every day for the next 6 months. I'm not looking forward to any of it.

JHopMay 30th at 4:32 pm:  I think that was really well-said.  I am not sure how I would be affected if my school was tarnished like this.  But I know that I would most likely sound like a crazy person. I would clearly be disappointed, shocked, and probably angry.  I would be ready to go toe-to-toe with any Carolina fan, armed with a treasure trove of Butch Davis facts.  But can we even compare Butch Davis to Coach K, in terms of historical significance? No, we cannot.  But Jim Tressel is a champion.  He has a .828 winning percentage at Ohio State.  He has lost only 22 games in 10 years.  He has won a national championship and seven Big Ten titles – in 2002, and then every single year since 2005.  And he has a 9-1 record against Michigan since he began coaching at OSU.  He is adored by Buckeye Nation for a reason.  And until now, he had earned his seemingly flawless reputation, very much like Coach K.  I mean, I think I would be heartbroken. Almost as much as if I ever found out Derek Jeter did steroids, if not more. So I appreciate your rational response because, quite frankly, I think I would be incredibly defensive, while also sort of infuriated at the incompetence of it all. 

Miss ScarletMay 30 at 4:52pm: And now I'm going to say something really partisan, which you can take with as many grains of salt as you please (although I think you might be able to relate, because I think the anti-Duke basketball sentiment is similar to the anti-Ohio State football sentiment).

I'm not sure when it happened, but I think it is related to people feeling that OSU did not deserve to beat Miami in the 2002 National Championship game, which happened to coincide with the changes in the media cycle in the 2000s....but people across America LOVE to hate on Ohio State. They hate the scarlet and gray, they hate the sweater vest, they hate the stories about Woody Hayes, they hate that Ohio State always makes it to bowl games. I think with the 24-hour sports news cycle and constant coverage of EVERY moment from spring games to practice, Ohio State is quite often in your face....and fans of other schools hate that (especially SEC fans). If you look at those pre-game polls that ESPN does, no matter who OSU is playing in a bowl game, everyone in Ohio thinks OSU is going to win and every other state on the map will be cheering for their opponent. Given that context, I think the piling on in the coming weeks is going to be out of control.

Also, dear Ray Small: STFU. XOXO, Buckeye Nation.

*          *          *
Undoubtedly, there is much more to come in the Ohio State saga.  And with the magnitude of the coach and the program, it will certainly be out of control.  Again, a big thanks to Miss Scarlet. As a short anecdote, Miss Scarlet was one of the very first people I met when I moved to North Carolina. When I was miserable and depressed in high school.  And, from the start, she impressed the hell out of me, helped me get involved in school and sports, made me laugh, and has not stopped impressing me since.  Happy early birthday, Miss Scarlet; go out and fork something, steal some porn, mime an “O” from across the pool, and keep kicking ass.  You are the best.

May 27, 2011

A Hoops Victory for Voldemort.

It is a beyond gorgeous Friday here in New York and all I want to do is play outside and read my new copy of Those Guys Have All The Fun, which arrived yesterday. It is 745 pages of delicious scandal and weighs approximately 645 pounds. I could see the jealous and curious glances as I opened it on the subway this morning. It is never too late to join the CDTF virtual book club, so please shoot me an email. We already have a small and super entertaining cast of characters involved, but we would love to have more. And if you have already contacted me, expect an email this weekend. Now onto the real purpose of this post...

All season long, I have been patiently waiting for the Heat to implode. After the shenanigans that the Whore of Akron pulled last summer, I became an NBA fan simply to watch him lose (the success of the Knicks also played a role). But really, I was that disgusted by Lebron's "decision," or more accurately, the execution of his decision. I expected the Miami Heat to get into the playoffs, I expected them to win some games, but I also thought that they would run into a brick wall when it came to Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were like my fail-safe. They had the best record in the NBA, the regular season MVP, and the Coach of the Year in Tom Thibodeau. And good god, I hate to be wrong.

The Big Three was really big last night. Lebron had 28 points, Dwayne Wade put up 21, and Chris Bosh had 20, culminating in a crazy rally during the waning three minutes of the game. In particular, James and Wade were the dynamic duo that they were advertised to be - each scored eight points during the game-ending 18-3 run, knocking the Bulls out of the playoffs. Now, in a rematch of the 2006 title game, the Heat will take on the Dallas Mavericks for the championship. Derrick Rose just didn't have it last night. He scored 25 points, but only hit 9 of 29 shots. He also missed a tying free throw with less than 30 seconds left and stupidly fouled Wade, giving him a four-point play. As the Heat came together and rallied down the stretch, hitting all six of their shots, the Bulls only attempted four shots and had two turnovers in response. It was sort of excruciating to watch. The Bulls were up 77-65 with only three minutes left, and it seemed like a sure thing that we would be watching Game 6 this weekend. Only to have it all fall apart. It reminded me of when Duke lost to UConn in the 2004 Final Four (I'm sorry, but I cannot compare the 2004 Yankees, because no collapse could be as tremendous). The last thing I wanted was for Lebron to be "rewarded" for acting like a complete douche and for breaking Cleveland's collective heart after he took his talents to South Beach.

Last night was like watching Harry Potter lose to Voldemort. Remember the prophecy? One must live, one must die? Well, the wrong one fucking died last night. And now we are left with, what? The equivalent of Ron Weasley in Dirk to save the world from evil? I will even upgrade Dirk Nowitzki to Hermione Granger, who I adore, but could she alone have fought off the Dark Lord? Sigh, I really don't think that even she had enough firepower to out-duel him. I mean, maybe if she had Mark Cuban, it would be a different story, but I doubt it.  Right before Harry goes on his final "mission," he tells Neville Longbottom that if anything happens to him to kill Nagini, Voldemort's snake and protector. Well, it is up to you, Dirk. Please save the Muggle world from disaster.

Also? I apologize for the lack of posts this week; my little brother is in town and it has been a crazy mix of tourist activities, work/court, birthday parties, and life. But we are hopefully back to normal now. So enjoy your Friday, your holiday weekend, and pick up a copy of Those Guys Have All The Fun.

May 25, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness: The Barry Bonds Edition (seriously).

This space is often used to call out athletes for being assholes. But we should also give credit where credit is due. And Barry Bonds actually deserves some credit.

Yesterday, Thomas Girardi, the attorney who is representing Bryan Stow in his suit against the Dodgers, released a previously unpublicized tidbit: Barry Bonds has donated scholarships to cover the college educations for Mr. Stow's two children. Without any fanfare, Bonds did this over a month ago; in fact, right after he was convicted for obstruction of justice. Although the family has returned most fan donations, this one was too special and meaningful. Bonds visited Stow on April 22nd, stayed with him for over an hour, and left a signed baseball cap.
Stow is now suing the Dodgers and Frank McCourt for a “total disregard for public safety” and seeks undisclosed damages.  As he should. When you fire your head of security before Opening Day and do not make it a priority to replace him, you deserve the consequences of your gross negligence. Especially if your negligent conduct, in part, led to some poor single dad fighting brain damage. The complaint can be found here.

I have never shied away from the fact that Bonds is a cheater and can be a supreme dick. But gold star to Barry.  And I admire him for doing this behind the scenes, without media attention. Mr. Girardi simply mentioned it yesterday because the Stow family was so excited that the Giants icon reached out to them.  God knows he has gotten plenty of bad press over the past decade, but Barry Bonds fully deserves the good press he is getting today.

May 24, 2011

Drop Dead Fred.

Just to make clear, I am not advocating the death of Fred Wilpon or anything; I just think there are a lot of people in New York who would perhaps look the other way if he were, say, falling off a subway platform. Especially after his ill-advised, super scandalous, poor-me spread in the New Yorker.  

Fred Wilpon doesn’t give many interviews and he certainly doesn’t offer tantalizing quotes on a regular basis – and that is what makes this piece so intriguing.  Whatever possessed him to provide Jeffrey Toobin, an all-around excellent journalist, with that much access and brutal honesty is beyond me. He undoubtedly wanted to soften his family image in the harsh glare of public scrutiny; he is, after all, being sued for one billion dollars due to his entanglement in the Bernie Madoff scandal.  And Fred’s rags-to-riches story is, of course, admirable. But what was he thinking calling himself a schmuck for signing Carlos Beltran? Or referring to David Wright as a good player, but not a superstar? Or slamming Jose Reyes, who is pretty much adored by fans, and declaring that he will never get the money he is looking for next year?  Even if laced with truth, even if he said what everyone else has thought, what the hell was he thinking saying this shit as the owner of the Mets?  And who would ever want to play for him?
Obviously, this overshadowed the purpose of the piece; no one cares that you used to be poor when you are willing to slam your employees and franchise.  This is particularly true when you have fraudulent felon of the century, Bernie Madoff, as your voice of support and reason.  Bernie told the New Yorker that Fred was “not sophisticated enough to evaluate properly” or “perform the necessary due diligence” to detect the massive Ponzi scheme.  And that is somehow supposed to mitigate the disastrous state that the Mets are in or Fred’s total incompetence?  Please.  If Fred Wilpon was trying to endear himself to fans or the media, he failed. Miserably. 

The Mets have dealt with embarrassment after embarrassment over the past few years – but Fred’s amazin’ arrogance and victim syndrome just might be the icing on the cake. I mean, take some fucking responsibility for the mess you created. I never thought that I would say this, but I feel badly for New York’s junior varsity baseball team.  They deserve better than this, and maybe Bud Selig will finally take notice that his buddy Fred is a huge dick.  

May 23, 2011

The Weekend That Was: The Subway Series, Lance, Condoms, and a Tom Brady Caption Contest.

Well, we survived The Rapture. I was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and kept waiting for the wire supports to start snapping, but it just never happened. So I continued walking and cursing at the hipster bikers until I returned to the country of Manhattan.  Thank god, because this was a big weekend in sports, and life would have sucked without the internet. 

The AL East Race for Supremacy:  The Yankees took two of three from the Mets this weekend, as New York’s junior varsity team rolled into the Bronx for a visit.  Yesterday, the Yanks won 9-3, with a combination of small ball and a wild seventh inning where we scored eight runs.  After dabbling in the trade market, ARod played his first game for Joe Girardi’s Braces and promptly went 4-for-5; his hip scares the hell out of me, but welcome to our first-place club, Princess Purple Lips.  Robinson Cano will be joining him on Thursday, and I am sort of excited about my successful weekend wheeling-and-dealing.  I am not as excited about the Red Sox, who unsurprisingly are creeping up from behind in the AL East.  They have won eight of their last nine, and sit a half-game out of first place – where the Yankees and Rays sit uncomfortably at the moment.  With Seattle and Toronto on our plate this week, we have the chance to add some padding, but only if the Sox succumb to Cleveland and Detroit. The Sox pitching staff is sort of a mess right now, so we need to take advantage. The Mets, on the other hand, shuffle off and return to Queens as irrelevant as ever.  I really do feel badly for David Wright and his fractured back.

Live Strong (and Shady): We have now gotten to the point where everyone is selling out Lance Armstrong.  His house of cards is officially blowing over, and it is almost painful to watch his teammates admit the truth in striking detail, as Lance defiantly denies everything.  It is Roger Clemens 2.0, but without the entertaining and ridiculous congressional hearing to set the stage.  And this is worse.   I could write an entire post about Lance and the implications of his potential PED fraud, but I think his case is, by far, the dirtiest.  Our government may have unintentionally bankrolled U.S. Postal’s drug operation.  And this man built his entire career around surviving cancer and miraculously beating the odds (and his world-class competitors).  I give him all the credit in the world for that.  But he has made billions of dollars on his flawless image, which we now know was nothing more than a carefully constructed fiction.  One laced with intimidation and scandal.  He just cheated better than his anyone else in cycling and we have celebrated it for years.  But the details are damning and undeniable.  And the whole thing is just gross.

When Sports and Sex Don’t Mix: Manny Pacquiao, world-champion boxer and new-found politician, would like to ban condoms in the Philippines.  According to him, “God said, ‘Go out and multiply.’ He did not say, ‘just have two or three kids.”  Okay, we won’t get into a “right to choose” argument here. But I bet if we asked him, God would also say “do not spread AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases; please be as safe as possible, since it is unrealistic to think that people are just going to stop having sex.” That said, I am not very religious and am simply grateful to have survived The Rapture, so what do I really know?

Capture of the Cowardly: The LAPD finally got somewhere in the Bryan Stow beating.  On Saturday morning, the SWAT team entered an East Hollywood apartment complex, used loudspeakers to communicate with the residents of Apartment 25, and finally took the assailants who savagely beat the paramedic and father of two at Dodger Stadium.  It was quite the scene.  Hundreds of other residents gathered outside, as the cops had their weapons drawn.  The two assholes will be charged with attempted murder.  Sadly, Stow remains in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital. 

Tom Brady Crosses the Border: There is no real point to this paragraph, other than to share with you this incredible picture of Tom Brady on a water slide. His hands, god, his hands.  It is precious. Let’s have a caption contest in the comments, shall we?

Learn How to Read: If you haven’t already contacted me, join the first CDTF book club! We will be reading Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, which is being released this Thursday and which is sure to be scandalously awesome.  So grab a copy, send me an email at chicksdigthefastball@gmail.com, and join our discussion about the World Wide Leader.

Have a great Monday and a great week, everyone. Please use condoms, avoid PEDs, pray for Bryan Stow (and the Mets), curse the Red Sox, make fun of Tom Brady, and go to Barnes & Noble.  Okay, I am out like a fat kid in dodge ball. 

May 19, 2011

Saved By The Ball: Joe Girardi is my Principal Belding.

After offhandedly comparing the Jorge Posada incident to a bad episode of Saved By The Bell, I realized that the classic 90's show is the perfect metaphor for this entire 2011 Yankees' season. We shall call it Saved By The Ball

So the season started out great; against all odds, we came out unified and our chemistry was sizzling. Everyone was in-synch and harmonized. Much like the episode where Zack, Slater, and the gang all sing "Barbara Ann," the girls laugh at them, and then they break Screech's mom's Elvis bust. A real tragedy, similar to the last few weeks for the Bombers. While the bust only cost $250 to replace, I am not sure the Yankees are as easily repairable.  Also? There is no one on the Yankees who can possibly do as sweet of a split as A.C. Slater. 


This is true, especially with injuries to Rafael Soriano (a bigger bust than broken Elvis), Phil Hughes, and Eric Chavez. I can only hope they band together and choreograph a bitchin' dance like Lisa and Screech did with "The Sprain."


The biggest concern, however, seems to be the break-up and advanced age of the Core Four. It is heartbreaking and brings me to a dark place; a place that I imagine only Zack and Kelly felt when they broke up and slow-danced to "How am I Supposed to live Without You?," which Slater and Jessie sang while dressed in absurd costumes.


Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia have attempted to replace Andy Pettitte, which is basically like trying to replace Kelly Kapowski with that biker bitch, Tori.  Sure, Tori filled in admirably at times, but the magic, the essence of greatness, was gone. We tried to believe the show could go on without losing quality or entertainment, but it was nothing more than a perky pom-pommed memory of yesteryear. Undeniably, something was lost, and it is inevitable to compare the old cast with the new one. Sort of like how we judge SBTB: The College Years, or Miss Bliss and Principal Belding. Miss Bliss is clearly Joe Torre in this saga. She did a good job diffusing rivalries and tensions, as Torre tried to do with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Still, I am not sure she was missed once Principal Belding took over as the adult lead and brought a wrestling championship to Bayside. And I doubt that she wrote a tell-all book after leaving Bayside for good.


The longstanding cold war between The Baseball Jesus and ARod is eerily reminiscent of the rivalry between Zack's friendship bracelets and Slater's Buddy Bands. Buddy Bands, an initial success which eventually became uncool when Zack gave one to Mr. Belding, define the type of player that ARod is. We used to like him before he started juicing, kissing himself in the mirror, and acting like a superficial asshole; then, he became everyone's least favorite Yankee. Buddy Bands exasperated the relationship between Zack and Slater, just like ARod's interview in Esquire led to the rift with Jeter.


Taking this one step further, the recent Jorge hissy fit is JUST LIKE the terrible fight between Zack and Slater over some random slut. When Girardi moved Jorge to  ninth in the order, it was Zack pouring fruit punch down Slater's pants all over again. Previously, Zack had dressed up Screech like an usher to ruin Slater's date, similar to how Jorge has tried to disguise himself as a useful designated hitter.  In this situation, Girardi's office replaces the lockers as the setting for ridiculousness.


Which brings us to this week, and specifically last night's snoozefest, when the Yankees beat the Orioles 4-1 in the 15th inning. Although Colon pitched a gem, going eight innings and handing a 1-0 lead to Mariano Rivera, Mo blew the save, extending the game for an excrutiating six innings. Poor Chris Dickerson got beaned in the head. There were so many missed opportunities and so many chances where someone could have won, it was just like the epic chess match between Valley and Bayside. You know, the one where Zack kidnaps the Russian, Spassky.  I kept yelling at the TV "just veen da game!" The only thing missing was Tori Spelling dressed as a nerd in the stands. Regardless, the game was so painful, but at least we won - just like Screech. But god was it ever ugly and intense. Which is how this whole season and the AL East race are shaping up to be.


Who knows what the standings will be in October, or even at the All-Star break. But in the great words of Jessie Spano, "I'm so excited, I'm so excited...I'm so...scaaaared!"

May 18, 2011

Chicks Dig Book Clubs: Those Guys Have All The Fun.

I think I mentioned this, or maybe Carrie did, but Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, the new scandalous tell-all book, comes out on May 24th and we are going to have our first virtual book club of sorts here at CDTF. 

I haven't exactly figured out the details yet, but we will most likely break the book up into chunks, maybe in two-week intervals.  Then, similar to Batting Practice Bitches, I will send out some questions, you will perhaps feel like sending me some responses, and we will have a “round-table” discussion (i.e., I will fashion a post around everyone’s answers, like a virtual book club).  If you want in, please email me at chicksdigthefastball@gmail.com

The book is already making waves.  Shockingly, everyone thought Keith Olbermann was a dick – talented, but a super asshole.  And he and his other ESPN manwhore friends were regularly offering free mustache rides in Bristol.  If these salacious details are being pre-released, I can only imagine the juicy treasures this book will hold.  And I am excited to start reading. Think about it: you can appear informed, you can get on top of what everyone else will be talking about, and in the future, you can watch the World Wide Leader with greater disdain, if that is even possible.  
I will send out an email next week explaining exactly how this will work.  If you do not like books or cannot read and this post is all just a big mass of scrambled letters to you, you can just keep following along with your more literate CDTF peers.  While they have not yet agreed, I am also going to try to force my BPB cohorts to participate, because those bitches like books (and they are sort of brilliantly entertaining).  I hope you like books, too.  Because this could be really fun.

May 17, 2011

High School Drama, the Yankees, Lost Championships, and Stolen Porn

While I was at work yesterday, I could not help noticing the ESPN headlines about Jorge Posada: He was so angry that he wanted out of the Yankees; Laura Posada’s texts about her husband’s aching back infuriated Brian Cashman; The Baseball Jesus condoned Posada’s hissy fit and everyone else got pissed off; then, Derek, Brian, Hank, and Hal hugged it out over a conference call; and now the Yankees are playing the Rays in Tampa and everyone is besties again.  It was like the plot of a terrible Saved by the Bell episode.

And that got me thinking.  I mentioned in the comments yesterday that the Yankees remind me of my high school softball team.  On the field, we were kind of awesome.  Off the field?  The ridiculous drama poisoned our run to the state championship. We pulled crazy stunts and created unwanted episodes for our poor coach.  No matter how genuinely talented we were, we could not mask all of the off-field issues.  And I can’t help but compare the Yankees, this group of millionaire professionals, to a bunch of teenage girls. 

Like the Yankees, we had a diverse mix of personalities that clashed as often as we clicked.  We had angry, arrogant temper tantrums like Jorge.  I mean, two of our starting pitchers brawled in centerfield over playing time.  After a win, we were all sitting around our coach in the visitor’s outfield for a team meeting.  Our angry, scary, and arguably unstable pitcher – known, in part, for wearing a silk ribbon in her blonde ponytail and forcing the rest of us to wear matching ones – was talking smack to our angrier, scarier, equally dramatic pitcher.  As the rest of us sat there partially stunned and partially (beyond) entertained, the two hurlers started throwing punches.  Our coach, who was very Girardi-like in her ability to calmly manage and diffuse tensions, somehow intervened.   This was mid-season, and our pitching staff was never the same again. Did we win? Yes.  Did they hate each other? Most definitely. 

We had cold wars like the one between ARod and Jeter. Quite frankly, there are too many to describe here.  We had oblivious, unaffected, and seemingly innocent people like Freddy Garcia or Phil Hughes. One underclassman’s rather large mother chased down my car in the school parking lot, did the sign of the cross, and told me that I had a “precious package on board” and to make sure that everyone was wearing their seatbelts at all times.  She probably should have been more worried about the bottles of Zima and Mike’s Hard Lemonade that we had stashed in the trunk.  We had creative and cheerful types like Nick Swisher – a smart, sassy girl created and led all team cheers, one of which was called “Like a Leadoff” to the tune of “Like a Virgin.”  We had questionable alcoholics. Stolen bases and stolen boyfriends. Whiny hypochondriac bitches like Carl Pavano.  All of these divergent attitudes and personalities did not mesh into a melting pot of high school softball deliciousness; instead, the game became a chore.  It was the opposite of fun.  And we totally played like it. 

That said, we shared some of the best memories ever; and during those high periods, we were duped into thinking that everything would be okay.  We had a certain spark from shared experiences; we sort of cared about each other and, at those times, we played well together.  For example, two of my favorite girls, our trouble making Melky and Robinson BFF duo, thought it would be entertaining to steal a magazine from a gas station on a bus trip.  They stole it solely for the Justin Timberlake pin-up, which they then gushed about to everyone.  Their chatter made its way up to our coach, who promptly turned the bus around, made them return the magazine, and apologize to the clerk.  We were all equally ashamed (and amused).  And then we went on to kick ass.  I am hoping that such a bonding experience will occur over this ridiculous Jorge hissy fit and extended losing streak. 

My softball team also had our own talisman, much like Jason Giambi’s infamous gold thong.  See, one Thursday afternoon before practice, a group of us were watching TV at our second baseman’s house.  I wanted to watch Friends, which I had recorded on a VHS, before the new episode came on that night; I was told to use the VCR in her parent’s room.  When I popped out the tape in their VCR, the first thing I saw was “Between the Cheeks: XXX” hastily scrawled on the side in black sharpie.  My mouth dropped.  In typical teenage-fashion, I called out to our first baseman, one of my best friends, that she must join me immediately. Then we played the tape.  Imagine the worst/best 80’s porn ever – sparkles, mohawks, leather, hot pink hair dye, untrimmed shrubbery, fat people, a sex lesson that involved a cat, and a frighteningly sexual alien.  We were horrified, but could not stop laughing.  And that is when everyone heard us.  When the rest of the team came in, the poor girl babbled about how her parents were given the video as a joke gift. When she finally ejected the tape, she danced into her parent’s bathroom and, like, threw it under the sink. Which I found super weird. Then everyone dispersed and we went to practice – but not before I asked to use the bathroom. 

I locked the door and began my investigation to find the missing porn.  Oh, I found it.  Along with about 60 other pornos.  I felt like Bob Woodward.  And this porn was, quite literally, my Deep Throat.  I didn’t know what to do with my new-found information, so I just went to practice.  But I immediately began plotting how I could steal the porn.  And during a party the following week, we finally had the opportunity.  This is how it went down: even though her parent’s room was (finally) off-limits, our first baseman snuck in and grabbed the porn, while I distracted the second baseman in her garage.  When my co-conspirator came out, she saw the second baseman and instinctively threw the contraband into a large bush next to the house.  There were too many people and we could not climb into the ginormous hedge to get the tape.  So that night, at like 2:00 a.m., we drove back to her house, climbed into the bush, and retrieved the video.  Basically everyone else knew we did this except the girl with the kinky parents (also the title of an unreleased Stieg Larsson novel).  I still have the tape.

After we stole the porn, my team did not lose again. That is, not until the state championship, which we lost 1-0.  Even though we had a great run, playing softball was never as much fun as the Between the Cheeks Incident. We still more-or-less detested each other off the field.  We all still cared more about our own playing time and where we were going to college and who everyone else was taking to prom.  We never clicked as a unit and we had no business even making it to the state championship.  And I guess that is my point.  All of this drama gets in the way.  We can gloss over the Yankees’ issues and pretend that they don’t matter, that they are too talented to fail on the field, and that all of these controversies will blow over. And they might.  But this drama could also be the difference between a 28th World Championship and an early fall vacation.  

May 16, 2011

Yankees-Red Sox: A Sunday Night Trip to the Bronx

Last night, my younger brother and I ventured to the Bronx for the Yankees-Red Sox. The tickets were part of my Christmas present to him and we have been talking about this game for about five months.  He is a die-hard fan, but this was his first time ever seeing the Yanks in person – and he was so excited.  In truth, I was so excited for him.  Would he think that The Stadium is smaller than it looks on TV? Would it remind him slightly of a pinball machine, with all of its flashing lights and colors? Would he think the Lobel’s steak sandwich is, in equal parts, highway robbery and a small meaty glimpse of heaven? I don’t know, but I was curious. I also prayed that the expected torrential downpours would not ruin the experience for him. 

I should have known we were in for a long night when, after he got changed, he was wearing one of those stupid rope necklaces.  The ones that all of the baseball players wear (i.e. the ones that are ridiculous).  But I kept my snarky comments to myself and just let him enjoy being all Yankeed-out, which I thought was rather mature. (I am kidding, Matt. I do not completely hate it).  The buzz on the subway was palpable – this was also my brother’s first time riding the subway, but he seemed to think it was way easier than he expected.  As we got further from the World Trade Center and closer to 161st, the Yankees fans started to trickle onto the 4 train in droves.  And by the time we got there, it was a rowdy affair, we were packed in like sardines, and you could hear the tense chatter about the AL East race and Jorge’s hissy fit.  We needed to avoid getting swept, but could junk-ball genius Freddy Garcia really out-duel Jon Lester?  My brother patiently watched the subway map lights tick off, one-by-one, for 19 fucking stops, until we finally arrived.

I was shocked by the fact that there are now playing fields and a park where the Old Stadium used to be; a few weeks ago, it still looked like a dirt hole completely fenced-up. When we got there, it was already raining and I thought, for sure, it was going to get postponed.  We were so early that the gates weren’t even opened yet.  But fifteen minutes later, we were two of the first people inside.  We hauled ass to Monument Park, which was actually much cooler than I expected. I have been to the granite dungeon pit under the Mohegan Sun many times, and while the history is incredible, it always underwhelms me.  I feel like they could have done so much more with it when they opened the monstrosity that is the new Yankee Stadium.  Last night, since we were there hours before the game, batting practice was going on and the players were about five feet from Monument Park.  Mariano Rivera was shagging balls, Joba was talking to fans, Andruw Jones was kicking a baseball around like it was a soccer ball.  There is a place in Monument Park where you can stand basically overlooking centerfield, and it was awesome to see. 

When we finally left (i.e. after my brother took photographs of every single plaque and retired number), we went into the right-field bleachers and watched batting practice.  The Yankees are rather awesome about batting practice.  Fans can sit wherever they want, go down to the railings, yell for players to toss them a ball – and the team is interactive and loose.  Even the Red Sox were not assholes when they were in the outfield. They tossed us some balls, too.  And by “us,” I mean the crowd in general.  My brother and I were not really standing in the sea of people fighting over balls; we were sitting a few rows back, taking it all in.  And Kevin Youkalis was hitting bombs, so we should have been forewarned.

As the game started, and the Bleacher Creatures went through “roll call,” they chanted Jorge Posada’s name, even though he was not in the starting line-up.  He stood up from the bench and waved, and the crowd went nuts.  I was sort of surprised.  Personally, I thought the whole Incident was sad and unfortunate and never should have happened.  When you are hitting below the Mendoza line, you have no standing whatsoever to bitch about where you bat in the order.  You should simply be thankful that the team still has faith in you and you are playing at all.  But to pull this little temper tantrum hours before a nationally televised Red Sox game? I thought it was really poor form, really selfish, and super disappointing.  I have always thought Jorge was the angry, brooding one of the Core Four, but this weekend cemented it as his legacy.  And the whole thing was just unnecessary drama that seems to follow the Yankees around. No matter what decade we are in, it will always be the Bronx Zoo. 

The game was cold, but shockingly, it did not rain.  Like the storm that never appeared, neither did our offense.  The game seemed to go back and forth, and every time we got a small lead (or a three-run lead at one point), we seemed to let the Red Sox get right back into it.  They grinded out three victories, and we played like we were bored and lifeless. Brett Gardner had some outstanding plays in the outfield, ones that left the crowd oohing and aahing – but his at-bats, bunting straight up to the catcher and getting picked off first base at one point – were definitive of the type of game we played.  After one bone-headed play, I turned to my brother and said: CAN WE POSSIBLY SUCK MORE?  I meant it. We have been atrocious over the past week, and the small AL East cushion that we built ourselves a month ago has entirely evaporated.  The Red Sox played like they wanted it more, and they earned it.  I just wish my brother could have seen one of the epic comebacks in The Stadium, where the upper levels rock with excitement and crowd camaraderie. 

Regardless of the Yankees’ loss, I am so happy that we went. The game itself may not have been memorable, but I will never forget the clear anticipation on my brother’s face. Or the way that we ate our way through the Stadium. Or the small old Asian man sitting next to us, who my brother kept high-fiving to celebrate and who seemed appalled at our cheering. There is no place like Yankee Stadium – and I am thrilled that I got to share it with him.  Even if we had to see a Jonathan Papelbon fist-pump in the process.  

May 12, 2011

Live From New York, it’s…the Yankees vs. Royals

Tonight, the Yankees take on the Kansas City Royals in the Bronx.  There is a graphic on YES right now, detailing the Yankees last eight games: since they left Detroit, where they were 1-3 and scored 2.5 runs/game with one homerun, they have gone 3-1, scored 6.0 runs per game, and have knocked in eight homeruns.  They either have gotten their shit together or they are incredibly streaky. We shall see what tonight brings.  AJ is on the mound, and so far, he has been pretty decent this year.  He is sporting a 4-2 record and a 3.71 ERA, but I do not trust him in later innings.  Vin Mazzaro will take the hill for the Royals.  With Bruce Chen injured, the New Jersey native and former Oakland Athletic is making his debut for Kansas City.  The Yankees normally struggle against unfamiliar pitchers, but this dude is 0-2 with a 9.69 ERA in three starts against them over the course of his career. And in the great words of Pedro Martinez, the Yankees are basically the Royals “daddy.”  Kansas City is 8-37 in New York since 2000. I am ready to make it 8-38, so let’s do this. 

Top 1: The poorly spelled Jarrod Dyson leads things off and strikes out looking.  Melky is up! I miss his crazy handshakes with Robinson Cano and penchant for walk-off hits.  His beard, however, is atrocious. And he goes down on strikes out, too. He may have grown facial hair, but some things never change.  And now Eric Hosmer is up. Out of all of the Royals, I am most excited to see him play.  He is supposedly a Joey Votto-like talent and rocked the ball in the minor leagues (.430 batting average in Triple A). While it may be a bit premature, he seems to have the make-up to make waves in the Major Leagues.  And he is now on Joe Girardi’s Braces, so it would be great if he can get a few hits tonight. He hits a rocket groundball to first, but it is easily fielded by Tex. 1-2-3 inning and AJ looks rather nasty. Whether his dominance continues is a totally different story.  Score: 0-0. 

Bottom 1: Derek hits a routine grounder to short and is thrown out by about 32 feet. In other news, Vin Mazzaro looks like he is 13 years old.  Curtis draws a walk.  I’ll take it, but he has been smacking the ball around lately.  And then he steals second.  You know, I wasn’t a huge fan of the Granderson deal when it happened, but he has really impressed me ever since Kevin Long fixed his swing.  Tex walks, too.  Vinny the Teenager does not look very sharp so far, but let’s see what ARod can do. Since April 24th, or over the past 15 games, he has batted .175.  Not hot.  And his not-hotness continues. He hits into an easy double-play.  Score: 0-0. 

Top 2: Oh super sadness – Gene Monahan is retiring at the end of the season! He has been with the Yankees for 49 years!! In 1962, he started as a bat boy, only to become the head athletic trainer.  Billy Butler walks, but Jeff Francouer pops out to shallow right.  Is he just teasing us with his unbelievable start to the 2011 season? I know it peeves Mets’ fans to no end.  Oh, Wilson Betemit. A disappointing Yankee, but like his buddy Jeff, he is having a very good season so far.  And he walks, too.  Uh oh.  Bad AJ may be making a cameo.  Then he goes and strikes out Pena. In spite of the two walks, AJ gets out of it.  Score: 0-0.

Bottom 2: Robbie knocks a line-drive to right to start things off.  He has such an effortless, pretty swing.  Nick Swisher, however, is only hitting .218 and just doesn’t seem sharp.  And as soon as I type that, he lines a pitch to right field. Jorge is up. .218 looks like Ted Williams compared to the .147 that he is sporting.  And he hits one to right, too, a grounder through the hole! Robbie comes around to score, with the throw to home late.  Yankees are winning and still no outs.  Russell Martin pops out to right and screams “fuck!” as he jogs to first. I heart him.  Brett is 14 for his last 31, so his batting average is finally creeping up.  But he flies out to left.  Can Captain Clutch come through again?!?!? No, no he cannot.  He strikes out looking on a close pitch on the outside corner.  That was a good at-bat/battle though.  Score: 1-0, Yanks.    

Top 3: Kim Jones is talking to the family of Eric Hosmer – 15 people are here, including his grandparents.  His older brother Mikey’s lap looks about 25 and is sort of hot, but the name “Mikey” is not okay. Not. Okay. Nevertheless, they are very proud of him and cannot believe he is playing with “people he idolized as a kid.”  And they are Yankees fans! They are all SO cute. I am even happier he is on Joe Girardi’s Braces now. OKAY. So, Escobar, the #9 batter, hits a swinging bunt which rolls to AJ, who cannot pick up the ball. He bent down, picked it up, and dropped it again.  Super fucking lame.  He is fast and 15 of the last 16 batters have successfully stolen against Burnett. But he gets Dyson on strikes.  And Melky on a lazy fly ball.  Melky also screams “fuck” as he jogs to first. And now my boy Hosmer is up.  Wow, he stands so far outside, one foot is basically out of the box, Johnny Damon-style. But Escobar is thrown out trying to steal, so Hosmer’s bat is an anxiety-inducing “To Be Continued.” But the Yankees are out of it.  Score: 1-0, Yanks.

Bottom 3: “Track…Wall….See Ya!” – Michael Kay.  Granderson knocks one out.  That was his 12th of the year! He learned how to hit, for real! Tex walks. Then ARod smashes a ball into the ground, about a foot from the plate; it bounces so high that the third baseman has no play.  The Bombers have something cooking here.  But then Robbie laces one to left, right to his BFF Melky Cabrera, who does not have to move to catch the ball.  Swisher uselessly pops up to second.  And Jorge walks. Teenage Vin looks exhausted.  We are only in the third and he is at 77 pitches.  But with the bases loaded, R.Mart grounds out to short.  But we tack on one more. Score: 2-0, Yankes. 

Top 4: Hosmer is back up.  Michael Kay just said something like “I made up a nickname for him, The Hozz.” AND HE KNOCKS ONE OUT! Second deck, his family is all cheering and smiley.  Awww. The fans admirably throw the ball back, so he will get to keep his memorable first smash.  And then Billy Butler rocks one to center, but Granderson makes an awesome catch.  Now they are showing a slow-motion replay of Hosmer’s family during his at-bat, and they are just precious. All of their hands come slowly up, you can see them mouthing “oh my god” and crying and screaming in glee.  Then Francouer hits an easy fly ball to left.  Sweet Jesus, Betemit just hit a ball that was about one-foot from being a homer.  But Swish hauls it in.  That was four hard-hit balls in that inning. Officially entering into “AJ Scares the Bejesus Out of Me” territory.  Score: 2-1, Yankees. 

Bottom 4: Brett legs out a perfect bunt single up the third-base line.  Betemit didn’t even try to make the play.  And then he gets thrown out stealing.  A weird side-arm throw by Pena clearly gets him.  DJ grounds out (shocking) and Grandy strikes out.  Score: 2-1, Yankees.

Top 5: YES has cut to the Red Sox game to show John McDonald rocking a ball off of John Lackey; the Blue Jays are up 4-1.  We always like to see that here at CDTF.  Pena grounds out to Robbie. And then Getz also grounds out to Robbie.  Ugh, Escobar walks. Why would you walk the #9 batter with two outs? He is most definitely going to try to run here and put himself in scoring position.  At worst, the top of their order would lead off the fifth.  And….he takes off, but it’s a foul ball.  UGH, AJ walks him, too.  But Melky finally ends the inning, flying out to left.  Score: 2-1, Yankees. 

Bottom 5: Now some pitcher name Adcock is in for the Royals.  He is a fire crotch, with a goatee the color of Charlie Brown’s great pumpkin.  Tex and his ginormous ass lead off the inning.  He lines out to first.  ARod goes down swinging.  He is for real having problems at the plate.  Oh, oh holy hell.  Adcock hits Robbie Cano in the helmet.  Wow.  His helmet went flying, there was a loud crack sound, Robbie is on the ground.  He looks shaken.  Whew, now he is up.  Still looks shaken.  Okay, now he is smiling.  It hit him right on the brim of his helmet, an inch from his forehead. He is coming out the game.  I think he is okay, but this is precautionary, which I think is super smart in the Concussion Era. Nunez is pinch-running.  But Adcock gets Swisher and the Royals are out of it.  Scary fucking inning.  Score: 2-1, Yankees.

Top 6: Hozz is up again?! Already? He walks. Butler pops out to shallow center. But Jeff Francouer gets plunked hard by AJ.  You would think it was intentional, but it really didn’t look that way. It looked like he totally lost control of the ball. Both teams are warned by the umps.  Betemit goes down swinging.  And AJ escapes, as Pena grounds to second.  Score: 2-1, Yankees.

Bottom 6: Jorge hits a single to center.  And Martin lines one to center, Dyson tries to make a diving play but juuuust misses.  Fatass Posada doesn’t advance.  Gardner hits the ball hard, but directly to centerfield.  Come on, we need some insurance runs. The Baseball Jesus has grounded out twice and struck out once… And now he has softly flied out once.  LAME.  We start the inning with back-to-back singles and now two straight outs.  Collins is in to pitch to Granderson.  And he gets him to pop out.  Both runners are left stranded.  Score: 2-1, Yankees. 

Top 7: Huh, interesting note from Rotoworld, via the NYT: Bartolo Colon had an experimental procedure in April of 2010, whereby Dr. Joseph R. Purita used fat and bone marrow stem cells from Colon and injected them back into his elbow and shoulder. It “had never been performed before, with the goal being to help repair ligament damage and a torn rotator cuff for Colon.” I mean, A+ to Dr. Purita! So, AJ comes back from a 3-0 count to get Getz.  Escobar goes down swinging.  And then Dyson flies out to shallow center.  AJ finishes strong.  You know, with all of the scariness, he only let up one hit in seven innings! He had a slew of walks, but was otherwise dominant. Score: 2-1, Yankees.

Bottom 7:  Aaron Crow is now pitching for the Royals.  I mean, I would really like at least ONE insurance run.  Tex hits a super slow grounder to short that basically anyone else on earth would have beaten out – but his ginormous ass slows him down. One out.  ARod walks. Why is he sporting weird scruff that makes him look like he went on a four-day bender? Robbie hits a line drive off the glove of Getz, ARod hauls ass to slide safely into second.  Maybe we can score with runners in scoring position, that would be swell.  Nope, not Swisher. Who flies out on the first pitch to Melky in left field.  Good god this at-bat with Jorge is taking forever. He finally walks.  Bases loaded for Russell Martin.  I didn’t notice this earlier, but he has a weird round band-aid patch thingy on his neck. He either cut himself shaving, got a very small tattoo, or is injecting himself with narcotics.  Sigh, he grounds out. The Yankees suck at being clutch tonight.  Score: 2-1, Yankees.

Top 8: David Robertson is in and Melky is up. Oh shit, I totally forgot the Celtics and Heat were playing tonight (that is how much I really care about the NBA). Sigh, The Whore of Akron continues his whining into the next round; I never thought I would feel badly for Boston. Robertson walks the lead-off batter. Always a terrific sign when you are up by one run in the eighth inning with the heart of the Royals’ order coming up.  My boy Hosmer is stepping to the plate.  But he strikes out with a huuuuge swing. Now Billy Butler…who walks on four pitches. Mitch Maier, who represents the go-ahead run, takes first in his place.  Jeff Francouer looks at strike three, right down the middle.  Two outs.  MOTHERFUCKER. RBI single for Betemit, who ties up the game with a line drive to right-center.  UGH. What a wasted effort by AJ.  I am so annoyed.  Alex Gordon is pinch-hitting.  Boone Logan comes on to induce a pop-up to third.  Score: 2-2. 

Bottom 8: With all of the failed opportunities that we’ve had to score in this game, I almost feel like we deserve to lose.  But Brett leads off with a chopper up the middle for a single.  I hope Jeter bunts.  I want to win and I want this game to be over.  For whatever reason, it has moved incredibly slow. Then again, I have never been a big fan of 2-1 games or pitching duels.  I would prefer to see a 14-12 slugfest.  Jeets is trying to bunt, but he fouls it off.  And then he bunts it straight up in the air, giving away an out. What a little league-level bone-head error.  And then a double play by Granderson. That totally sucked.  Score: 2-2. 

Top 9: MoBot300X is in.  Getz grounds out, Escobar strikes out looking, and Jarrod grounds out. 1-2-3 for Mariano, duh.  Score: 2-2. 

Bottom 9: Tex leads off with a single through the right side.  I am sort of ready for the Yankees to win, so I can go watch Modern Family. But if we win, it will be a walk-off, and I ADORE walk-offs.  ARod can end it right here. Instead he strikes out. @&(!#^%$@#.  Wow, looked like a perfect double-play ball, but Getz drops it on the transfer and Nunez is safe.  Nick Swisher – COME ON.  Nunez steals second.  Wait, WTF? They are intentionally walking Nick Swisher?? In favor of Posada??? Swish is struggling, and while Jorge hasn’t been any better, he is one of the proudest, angriest veterans out there. How insulting.  Please make them pay for this…  (Also? If the Royals take one more mound meeting, I am going to flip).  Jorge fouls a bunch off. This is so tense.  And now another mound visit? Really?! This is ridiculous, even coming from a Yankees’ fan.  He struck out. Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.  1 for 14 with runners in scoring position.  And we are going to extras.  Score: 2-2.

Top 10: Free baseball, anyone? Because you are getting it. It is 10:48pm, and I am eating churros right now. For the record, the Yankees have 11 hits, while the Royals have 2. Rando Carlisle walks Melky to start the 10th. All we have left in the bullpen is Joba, who is unavailable, and Ayala. No one else.  Which is always encouraging.  Hosmer grounds into a fielder’s choice, beating out a potential double-play. A crazy wild pitch like 14 feet above Russell Martin’s head; Hosmer takes second. This does not look good, folks. Maier goes down swinging. Shit. Francouer rocks a ball over Granderson’s head, scoring Hosmer easily.  The Royals take their first lead of the game.  They are intentionally walking Betemit to get to Treanor. Jesus Christ, another wild pitch, runners move up.  With the Sox getting creamed by Toronto and Tampa winning (again), it would suck to lose this game (even if we sort of deserve it for our inability to hit with runners in scoring position).  Treanor strikes out, but it is do-or-die time.  Score: 3-2, Royals. 

Bottom 10:  Joakim Soria is in, trying to pick up his seventh save. He looks extremely wild so far, three straight balls all over the place. R.Mart walks on four pitches.  Another ball to Gardner.  Everything seems up in the zone and his velocity is way down (87ish MPH). Michael Kay is finally commenting on the obscene number of mound trips the Royals have taken. Six balls in a row.  Gardner bunts but fouls it off, gifting Soria with his first strike.  Gardner gets the sac bunt down, with Martin moving up to second.  Top of the order. Jeters grounds out, but Martin advances to third. It all comes down to Grandy.  Who lines a single to right-center!! TIED GAME! (I cannot believe this 4-hour disaster continues).  I would pretty much do anything for a Mark Teixeira double right now.  DAMN. He pops out to left.  We are going to the 11th. Score: 3-3.

Top 11: Carlisle walks the lead-off batter, Getz. And now we are going to Ayala.  Successful sac bunt, with moves Getz into scoring position and brings up Dyson.  Groundball and diving stop by Nunez to save a run. But Dyson reaches, and then steals second.  The Melk Man, who has seen a lot of late inning magic at The Stadium, is intentionally walked, which sets up the double play.  Hosmer hits a sac fly, though, and the Royals re-take the lead.  Hosmer is all smiles, pounding his hands together in celebration.  The Yankees get out of it, but we are losing. Again.  Score: 4-3, Royals. 

Bottom 11: Okay. ARod, Nunez, Swisher. We can totally do this. Or not. ARod flies out to right. Nunez strikes out. Swisher too.  Game over. What a frustrating game to lose. Final Score: 4-3, Royals. 
 
Enjoy your Thursdays everyone and check back later!