Just got back from the Stadium, a nice 5-0 win that was completely overshadowed by events in the seventh inning. No, I'm not talking the standing about and shouting that stands for a "brawl" in Major League Baseball, I'm talking about the announcement between innings.
It was strange. They cut off "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" abruptly for an announcement by Bob Shepard, saying "Ladies and gentlemen, please turn your attention to the owner's box for an important announcement." The whole thing was so sudden, I halfway expected an announcement that George Steinbrenner had passed away. There was a second of shocked silence that passed through the Stadium when Roger Clemens, in jacket and tie, was shown on the Diamondvision scoreboard approaching the mike. And then came the applause, and more applause. I actually couldn't hear what he said, it got so loud. But then, just in case there was any doubt, the words appeared on the scoreboard: Roger Clemens is a Yankee. Clemens would come back on the screen later to introduce Cotton-Eyed Joe (of all things).
We'll talk repercussions tomorrow during the Week In Review.
After the announcement, I could hardly keep my scorecard going. The game was good, although most of the Yankees runs were scored off Seattle's butt-ugly defense. The official scorer charitably took a couple of errors away from Raul Ibanez, reversing a call on Matsui's sixth-inning fly ball (the reversal in scoring gave Hideki his 2000th professional hit, tallied between his time here and in Japan) and granting a double on a routine fly that Ibanez straight-out dropped in the seventh inning. Darrell Rasner was good...while he lasted. I have trouble seeing how a pitcher's throwing from side to side of the plate, but I could definitely see Rasner moving the hitters' eye levels all over the place. I also saw him in the 90s more often than in his previous starts (although they had him at 94 MPH for one pitch, which is a pretty good time to ask if your radar gun's broken).
As for the "brawl"...ho hum. In the fifth, Josh Phelps absolutely clobbered Kenji Johjima on a play at the plate, just flat-out leveling the Mariner catcher as he waited for the throw from the outfield. In the sixth, predictably, M's pitcher Jarrod Washurn retaliated when Phelps came up to bat again. Then, in the seventh, it seemed Scott Proctor threw inside at shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, getting Proctor ejected and starting the low-energy milling about...er, I mean, brawl. The ump must have issued a warning when Phelps was hit, but I'm still glad that Proctor at least tried to stand up for his teammate, since--even though I think all this retaliation stuff is pretty juvenile--it seems that the word is going around the league that you can target Yankee hitters with impunity. Still, to call what ensued a "brawl" is a farce. The funniest part is when the bullpens empty, and the pitchers run onto the field. At Yankee Stadium, there's one common entrance to the field for both bullpens. If these guys are spoiling for a fight, how come they're contentedly jogging side-by-side toward the infield, instead of wrestling each other in one giant scrum on the leftfield grass. One of these days the pitchers should do that, if only as a joke.