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Fireworks Before the 4th
2006-07-03 07:26
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Jaret Wright had virtually nothing on Sunday night and left before the end of the second inning, having already allowed four runs to score. Not wanting to be out-sucked, Alay Soler was torched for eight runs in the third inning as the Bombers got their Bomb back and unloaded on the Mets, 16-7. Ron Villone was effective in an emergency relief call and earned the win. And whatta ya hear, whatta ya say, Alex Rodriguez was the big man hitting a grand slam and a three-run dinger, but for the Mets fan sitting next to me in the upper deck last night, the game will go down as "the Nick Green" game. Green, making his first start at second base for the Yankees led off the third inning with a walk. He would come up again later in the inning and my pal leaned over and asked, "When is the last time a .077 hitter walked twice in one inning?" We'll never know the answer because Green plasted a two-run homer to left center. My friend, though undoubtedly discouraged, couldn't help but laugh. The next time Green came to the plate his average was up to .100.

It was just one of those nights. Mets catcher Paul LoDuca took exception to the way Alex Rodriguez reacted after hitting his grand slam and jawed at him some after Rodriguez crossed the plate. Lighten up, Francis. I think LoDuca was just sticking up for his pitcher, and that is fine. He was upset but I don't think Rodriguez was trying to show the Mets up and his celebration was nothing that you don't see all the time these days. LoDuca has got a good dose of the red ass in him anyhow, which is what you like to see in your catcher. But whatever hard feelings he had, they weren't too serious as the Mets didn't even brush Rodriguez off the plate in the next two at bats--a single and another homer. (LoDuca is one of six Mets to make the All-Star team, while four Yankees--Rodriguez, Jeter, Cano and Mariano made it.) For Rodriguez is was a huge game and he was showered with cheers, standing o's, the whole sh-bang.

The game was delayed about an hour due to some light rain and the first four innings moved slowly despite the excitement. The place was definitely juiced but this was going to be a typical American League sluggfest. It felt like it was going to be a long night's journey into day and sure enough I didn't arrive back at my crib until just after 2:00. Still, after the Bombers scored their 16th run in the fifth inning, there was not much tension left. The crowd gradually thinned-out and the last part of the game moved briskly. For Yankee fans it was the kind of anti-climax to thoroughly enjoy.

Comments
2006-07-03 09:16:16
1.   Coltre Hughes
It was good to see that Giambi had Rodriguez' back during the LoDuca incident. That showed me that there's some team-cohesion there, despite reports to the contrary and the fact that none of his teamates have stood up for A-Rod in the press lately vis-a-vis the booing. But no, you can't get too upset with LoDuca for what he did because it's something I could see, a. Posada doing and b. me cheering him on for doing it.
2006-07-03 09:23:40
2.   Alex Belth
Both of Rodriguez's home runs were great. They sounded great, both came off fastballs. The slam was hit to right center, up in the bleachers and the second one was hit to straight away center, off the facing of the black. Line drive homers really, with a little bit of loft. (I love when A Rod goes to right center.)

But really the monster shot of the night was Carlos Beltran's sixth inning bomb off of T.J. Beam. That was two thirds of the way up in the right center field bleachers. I mean that was a freakin' blast.

2006-07-03 09:23:40
3.   Zack
Mike over at canyon of heroes is reporting that the Yanks signed uber catcher prospect Jesus Montero from Jesus Montero. If true, thats great news, and while he may not last as a catcher, hes a powerhouse
2006-07-03 09:55:21
4.   Cliff Corcoran
2 From my view in the right field bleachers I'd say the grannie, Beltran's shot (incidentally, Beltran went 4 for 5 with a single, a double and two solo dingers) and Green's shot, which fell just short of the black on the far right side of the Yankee bullpen, were all total bombs. Beltran's shot went over my head and Rodriguez's salami was even with me, but a couple sections over toward center.

By the way, it should be pointed out that Rodriguez not only hit two homers and drove in seven runs, but that the grand slam turned a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 lead. That's big time stuff.

Overall it was a great comeback win, a huge hit for Rodriguez, strong relief work after Wright failed to make it out of the second, a fantastic (perhaps career) night for Green with a walk, a stolen base and the two-run bomb all in the same inning (!) plus another wak and a pair of great plays (a relay throw to nail a runer at the plate in the Mets' four-run second and a fantastic dive/slide and spin throw deep in the hole behind first later in the game). All of it well worth enduring the hour rain delay (Becky and I huddled up in the rain in the bleachers, I watching the David Cone Yankeeography on the diamondvision over her shoulder, her playing Scrabble on her cell phone over mine) to see the Yankees salvage the tie in the season series.

2006-07-03 10:16:25
5.   Simone
I just hope that this is the beginning of a hot streak for Rodriguez. I'm all about being supportive, but I'm tired of reading of all his emotional/psychological problems. He wanted out of Texas. He wanted to be in the middle of the pennant race. He wanted the pressure of playing in a city where baseball matters. The Yankees desperately need Rodriguez to step up. It is July and the Yankees need to get on a serious roll. A-Rod has to produced big time and consistently or the playoffs are a dream. If the Yankees do miss the playoffs, A-Rod will discover that the scorn heaped upon him so far is nothing compared to what they will be saying about him then.
2006-07-03 10:36:35
6.   Sliced Bread
I was blissfully away from my computer last week (on vacation) and spent this morning catching up on the Bronx Banter.

Alex, I enjoyed the "man on the street" and "fan in the stands" perspectives you included in your S.I. piece on the Rodriguez booing.

I was at the Friday night game of the Marlins series (June 23). It was the first time I "experienced" the A-Rod booing in person. (he wasn't getting booed when I attended games earlier this season)

It was early in the game, his first or second at-bat, and I forget what Rodriguez did to disappoint the fans, but a bunch of people around me started booing.

I looked around, surveying the crowd, and it was only guys doing the razzing, and most of them were smiling, as if collectively enjoying their part in a frat house prank.

I'm not dismissing Nancy Smith's account in your article that the booing has been vicious, (from what I've seen on TV, it gets loud and nasty in more crucial game situations) but I didn't detect any hate in the booing I witnessed.

The boo'ers seemed to be giving it to Rodriguez because it was "the thing to do." They seemed to be half-heartedly enjoying it, like it was another silly Stadium tradition like the YMCA, or Cotton Eyed Joe.

This summer, booing Rodriguez has become Yankee Stadium's twisted version of "the wave," or "the tomahawk chop." Yuck.

Will anything short of a go-ahead home run, or game-winning shot stop this nonsense?

Closing on a positive note: it's been great to see literally hundreds of fans at the Stadium rocking their Cano t-shirts and jerseys.

2006-07-03 11:23:24
7.   rbj
Great win.
Chance of t-storms in Cleveland today. Raining right now in Toledo.
2006-07-03 11:26:39
8.   brockdc
"By the way, it should be pointed out that Rodriguez not only hit two homers and drove in seven runs, but that the grand slam turned a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 lead. That's big time stuff."

On top of that, it was a 1-2 count.

2006-07-03 12:56:13
9.   David
Should Villone be tried as a starter?

He's doing a lot better than Wright. Heck, he's doing a lot better than Randy Johnson. Even if his stamina only allowed him to go 4 or 5 innings, the Yanks might give up fewer runs if Villone pitched a greater share of their innings.

2006-07-03 12:59:37
10.   Ravenscar
Alex & Cliff -

I was also at the game last night, got a Craigslist ticket that day for face value, upper deck, Tier 33, row N. The place where you can see everything but the right fielder right below you, and let me tell you, and AWFUL lot of plays went out to right field. Kind of annoying.

My take on the game:

First of all, I was dog-sitting in Brooklyn at the Bergen stop of the F train. This caused me to have to take FIVE trains to get to Yankee Stadium. 1. F farther out into Brooklyn (no local into Manhattan) 2. F back into Manhattan 3. A to B'Way/Lafayette 4. J to Chambers (no 4 at B'way/Lafayette) 5. 4 running LOCAL to the stadium from lower Manhattan. Ye gods, MTA.

From the Mets fan perspective:

LOTS of excitement and full house. A resounding 1/4 to 1/3rd of the stadium boos A-Rod at introductions. I was actually a little surprised, I sorta thought it had quieted down after that Detroit thing.

1st inning: We seem to be htting Wright hard. A good sign. And an efficient 1st from Soler. I'm optimistic we might get the good Soler today.

2nd inning: Floyd back and hitting. Good news. Valentin hitting him in. Valentin in a TERRIBLE play at the plate. Try sliding, Jose - that didn't work for the other Giambi here, weren't you watching? Lots more hits, Reyes being Reyes, Yankee fans cowed, Wright, my fantasy 3B, going 0-2 in one inning. Me thinking presciently that him not getting a hit with the bases loaded will come back to hurt us. Posada CRUSHING a high fastball, but little other trouble. We're still in good shape.

3rd inning: Mets do nothing, but not really a cause for concern. Then the problems start. Problem #1 - Soler can't throw strikes and walks an .077 hitter. Problem #2 - Soler can't keep Green on first. Problem #3 - Soler still can't throw strikes. Problem #4 - Jeter is Jeter. OK, that's really not a problem we can expect Soler to fix with any sort of effectiveness. Problem #4 revisited - Soler won't cover 1st base, and this is a problem that really screwed us right to the wall. A-Rod would have been walked, and this whole this wouldn't have happened the same way. (and then the whole stadium loves A-Rod, shocker) Then Posada's double and here is the biggest problem yet - #5 - not following Torre's surprising yet utterly accurate assessment of the situation and taking SOLER OUT OF THE GAME. Granted, we're only down 2 runs, but Soler has now given up 6 runs in 2 innings. As much as I hate to side with the Willie-haters, this was a big one. Problem #6 - Soler feeling that somehow Bernie is a threat to steal and problem #6 - NO ONE IN THE INFIELD telling Soler that this is just not the logical thing to be worried about, cut it out, and pitch the damn ball which leads to Problem #7 the throwaway. Phillips flies out and I'm feeling hopeful. Then more magic from Soler, who should be in the shower by now, but we're STILL only down 3 runs. Heath Bell manages to suck as well and we leave the inning a demoralizing 5 runs down. Yankee fans forcing me to high-5 them (I'm wearing my hat) or be labelled a dick despite the fact that I'm quietly scoring the game.

Then Nady made an error I was unable to see and didn't even realize was an error until I got home because NO ONE in our section could see it and that was that. This was a game of blunders (as defined by Rob Neyer) and errors. The Mets could have made it a game, but just really blew it in a number of ways. More drunks yelling at me how it must suck to be a Met fan and I mutter to myself yes, 1st place is terrible, how's 2nd? Communicating with drunks is never worth it, and none of my Yankee friends are actually in attendance with me and I've already seen 3 or 4 Mets fans (some deservedly, some not) get booted for daring to yell back at people.

To continue on this theme, a number of fights broke out in the upper deck as thee game wore on, which was tiresome in the extreme, but a lot of people left, which made things calmer. I stayed until the end and got home from the marathon at 1:30 AM.

The Yankees did indeed crush the hell out of the ball and played better than we did that game. As a National League guy, I will admit I'm a little embarrassed and irritated by the one-sidedness of interleague this year. Very annoying.

And now that I've either bored or entertained or irritated with the opposition perpsective (and granted, I've had a number of fine experiences at the Stadium - this was an exception), can someone tell me what happened on that Nady play?

2006-07-03 13:37:33
11.   randym77
10 Nady just dropped it. It was a low and sinking fly, and he just couldn't get a handle on it.

Great night for Nick Green. (So...does this mean he joins Marcus Thames, Bubba Crosby, Todd Zeile, and Andy Phillips on the list of players who homered in their first ABs as Yankees?)

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