Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Tuesday again, so I was watching the game at the pool hall. Between shots against an opponent who was much better than me, I saw a game which moved at a brisk pace, despite the fact that Al Leiter sucks in the strike zone--that is, if he throws you a strike, you can and will hit it; but if you expand your strike zone even a little bit, old Alois can and will still punk you. Vernon Wells got a hold of one in the strike zone, which he tatooed halfway to the Bronx County Courthouse. But overall, his teammates bit at the bait--one walk versus five strikeouts in Leiter's seven innings of work.

Anyway, I got done fairly early today, so La Chiquita and I went out for a much-needed feeding, over to Planet Sushi. The Planet didn't have their TV working tonight, so I missed out on a few innings while we ate--when I left the pool hall, the Yanks were losing, 2-1.

So we're outside, and walking to get a cab, when I see one of those city opportunities: a bar with huge plate windows and a huge plasma TV that you can see from the sidewalk. The score's 4-4 with two outs in the ninth, and Robinson Cano is up. I stop us in front of the window. La Chiquita looks at me askance, and I simply explain, "I feel that something is going to happen."

Cano works a walk against Miguel Batista, which is a rarity for Cano, and a cry for help by Batista. Batista then falls behind to Derek Jeter. Suddenly I realize that a small crowd is developing outside. A bar patron on a cigarette break--a Yankee Hater of probable Mets/Red Sox vintage--sneers, "That was a strike. They always do that stuff for the Yankees." A guy standing next to us, with what looks like his wife and kid, shoots back "Well, you're in the wrong town, pal." And La Chiquita looks at me with a look that says, "Something happened already, can we go now?"

Nope, we can't go now. After Batista gets to 2-0 on Jeter, the manager calls for the intentional. As you read last week, I'm not a big fan of that move, but it was easier to understand once I saw the on-deck circle: #29, Felix Escalona.

The family guy's kid has wild speculation as to Escalona's identity. He thinks that Escalona is Kevin Reese--which is ludicrous, because the two guys look nothing alike--but at the same time, it gets my wheels churning, thinking that maybe I missed a transaction and Reese has been added to the roster. When I point out that Reese is a petite white guy, the kid speculates that this is Cano. Only when I remind the kid that Cano just walked a few minutes ago, does the kid accept that it's Escalona.

"How long has this guy been on the roster?" the Dad asks. "A week maybe? A little more than that," is all that I can manage.

Batista gets ahead of Escalona, but Escalona--who looks quite a bit like a younger Luis Sojo--comes back with a typical Sojo hit, a ten-hopper a manly liner up the middle, to win the game.

"Now, we can go home," I tell La Chiquita.

You might have noticed the standings in the right hand column of this page. They're new, but it's not a matter of front-running--I'd always wanted a feature like this on the website, but I only figured out how to do it last weekend. At the time I figured this out, the Yanks looked like they were going get dusted, facing the White Sox after a way underwhelming series against the Devil Rays. Wild card leader Oakland was facing the 19-in-a-row losing KC Royals, and the Red Sox...well, the Red Sox looked inexplicably unbeatable. After taking 2 out of 3 over the weekend, and the A's losing 2 out of 3, the situation looks far less dire. The Yanks now share the Wild Card lead with the Cleveland Indians, and the A's are just a pace or two behind.

Hold on. Looks like it's gonna be a white-knuckle ride.


Southern Yankee said...

"... ten hopper..."

Better watch it again without the window/filter or get new glasses!

Solid liner, Let's not short change the guy, could be a significant turn of events !

DJ said...

Checked it on MLB.com, and indeed, we do get to see the evil dark side of window-watching: sometimes stuff is blurry as heck. Looked to me like a patented Sojo up-the-middle job, y'know, the hard hit grounder that imitates a skipping stone. But indeed, Felix's hit was much more macho than that.

I never meant to denigrate Felix's achievement--it was a great job in a big spot, exactly what the club needed. Generally speaking, I bet that Escalona would be real glad to have Sojo's career, when all is said and done.