The Red Sox won a messy affair against the Yankees on an overcast afternoon at Fenway Park. It was a dramatic win for Boston and a frustrating loss for the Yanks. The game was delayed for an hour and according to the Fox announcers on TV, the Yankee team was under the impression that the game wasn't going to be played at all. The players had changed and the buses were fired up to go when the team was informed that the game was in fact going to be played. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver first reported that it was Red Sox management that chose to play the game; later, they had heard that the decision to play came directly from the players.
Regardless, I'm certain the Red Sox are pleased that they played. The two teams finally brawled; both scored a boat-load of runs, and Mariano Rivera took his turn being humbled, blowing a two-run lead in the ninth inning. In a game that the Red Sox needed to win, they were resiliant. It was the kind of see-saw, turgid exchange that we are used to seeing from these two teams. It wasn't pretty, but it didn't lack for excitement. When the Yankees went ahead by five runs, my girlfriend Emily clapped on the couch and cheered. I told her not to get cocky; anything short of a ten-run cushion makes me nervous against Boston with four innings left to play.
The brawl was full of nasty feelings; fortunately nobody was seriously hurt (though Taynon Sturtze looked as if he just stepped out of "Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn" when it was all said and done). With the Yankees ahead 3-0, Alex Rodriguez was plunked with two outs and nobody on in the top of third. Was he hit on purpose? Perhaps. Rodriguez had some words for Bronson Arroyo, Boston's starting pitcher, as he unwrapped his protective sleeve and made his way to first. First of all, Rodriguez isn't out-of-line barking at Arroyo, cause this kid is known to hit guys. Jason Varitek, walking in stride with A Rod, effectively told Rodriguez to piss off. Rodriguez quickly re-directed his fury at Varitek and before you know he was motioning toward the catcher saying, "You want to go? Come on."
Without discarding his mask, Varitek so was inclined (if not delighted) to accept the invitation. He mushed Rodriguez in the face and then reached under his crotch in the hopes of turning A Rod over. But Rodriguez held his ground and the two men were overcome by the crowd. At this point both teams were in a scrum. Rodriguez and Varitek fell on the ground. Schilling was out there. Lots of violent pushing and shoving; a few mad moments.
Resident Goonie Bird Taynon Sturtze, the Yankees starting pitcher, grabbed Gabe Kapler in a choke hold for no apparent reason, and the burly pitcher was tossed on his nut by Kapler, David Ortiz, and Trot Nixon. It was predictable that it was Sturze to act like a putz. He's lucky he didn't get more of a beat down.
Varitek and Rodriguez were both ejected. Varitek played his role as the chief Dirt Dog, and the Sox, brimming over with frustration, came out biting. For his part, Rodriguez, was aggresive himself, which should play well with his teammates. The Yankees have been hit often this season. Over the past several years they have been hit a lot by the Red Sox. The Red Sox are slumping; their two stud pitchers lost back-to-back heartbreakers against New York. Someone was bound to crack sooner or later. Red Sox fans feel good that their boy Varitek doesn't take any shit and Yankee fans feel good because Rodriguez isn't going to take any shit either. So nobody is going to pack shit, capice?
Sturtze wasn't thrown out, but he was done. Fat ass went back out there and gave up two runs in the bottom of the third and was through for the day. Boston skipper Terry Francona got himself tossed arguing a close play at second later on which added to the contentious spirit of the afternoon. The Sox took the lead, Yankees grabbed it back, then the Sox came back again. Where have we seen this before?
I left the apartment in the seventh inning. That was it. (I'm mature, see?) Ruben Sierra led off with a tremendous solo home run and then the Yanks loaded the bases on three consecutive Red Sox errors. Nobody out. But they could not score. It was at that point that I couldn't take it any longer. I just had a bad feeling the game was going to last forever, it wasn't going to end well and that it was basically an insufferable afternoon. The pitching was horrendous, the Yankee bullpen--with the notable exception of Scott Proctor--was awful, and the worst possible thing that could happen happened: Mariano gave up the game.
But I didn't watch it, OK. I was out taking a nice long walk. Trying to calm myself. It rained most of this week in New York and it has been humid on top of that. But today was overcast but unseasonably cool, without a trace of humidity. It is the kind of weather that can make me nostalgic for Belgium, where my mom's family lives. This is that kind of summer weather you catch over there, or in England. The breeze was chilling as I walked, refreshing. If they lost, I wasn't going to let it ruin the evening, which turned out to be chill (Scrabble--for for the first time ever--followed by Stanley Kubrick's first important movie, "The Killing).
When I arrived back at the apt, Em gave me the sorry details. How's this for the kicker? Our old pal Ramiro Mendoza pitched well and got the win for the Sox. Oy. It was an uncomfortable loss for the Yankees and Yankee fans and a galvanizing victory for Boston and Red Sox Nation. Still, I calmed myself down by remembering that the Yankees are eight-and-a-half games ahead and kept battling back all day long. It was a bigger game for Boston, though that doesn't entirely remove the sting if you are the Yankees.
What I like the most about rooting for this Yankee team however, is knowing that they will come out tomorrow playing very hard, wanting to win badly, as if it were a playoff game. I don't doubt the teams' intensity one bit. And that does wonders for the digestion. Today's loss smarts, but I still like the way the team played. The Yankees' biggest flaw--their pitching--was simply exposed. Jose Contreras and Derek Lowe, players who have confounded their respective teams, pitch on the ESPN Sunday Night Game of the Week. Expect lots of sound and fury.
Will this wake the Sox up? Will it wake the Yankees up? I don't know, I think everyone is plenty awake. The two teams don't play again until September when they go out it six more times. In the meanwhile, let's hope we see a better-played game tomorrow night. Both pitcher is capable of shutting the other team down for seven innings. Contreras has been good lately, but Boston murders the guy. It would be a break-through game for Contreras if he performs well. And Lowe would do wonders for his own battered esteem if he wins at home after Saturday's win. All of these things. We shall see. Rarely a dull moment, right?