Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2003-05-04 09:25
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to


I left work early on Friday to accompany Emily to a doctor's appointment on the Upper East Side. I had some time to kill so I walked up from midtown, and boy let me tell you, the East Side is as weird and as wack as it's always been. Strange, cadaverous old honkies, poorly-dressed young honkies, and of course, the occasional nut case. On the corner of 68th street and Second Avenue, a toothless chap was standing there handing out business cards of some sort, running an open dialogue with himself.

"No, I'm not happy at all today. I should be in California. The Lakers won, and so did the Celtics. There are three games tonight, and I wish I could be there. Yeah. I don't like that Busch at all. No sir. Did you see him in that outfit? Who does he think he is, Tom Cruise?"

I told him not to worry: The Lakers will win. I moved on. I actually entertained myself with fantasies of running into Jason Giambi. I don't fully understand why it is that many of the jocks that choose to live in Manhattan select the Upper East Side, but I forgive them, because they are not from New York, and so they can't be totally at fault. After all, who said these guys knew anything about taste (watch Cribs lately)?

Still, I was hoping to run into the big lug, so I could tell him to relax, we are behind him and he'll turn it around before you know it. But wouldn't you know it? He never did materialize.

I sat in on Em's appointment ostensibly to take notes; there is so much information to digest, it's easy for her to forget half of it by the time she walks out the door. I introduced myself to the Doctor as her food-taster. Em's medical problems are not over, but we were encouraged, that she still had options. Her Doctor was attentive and reassuring, and how rare is that? When we were done, we jumped on a cross-town bus and went to see "A Mighty Wind," over by Lincoln Center. Brought to you by the same creative team that made "Waiting For Guffman," and "Best in Show," this new movie will appeal to those who enjoyed the first two flicks.

It was exactly what the Doctor ordered. Something light and stupid. After the movie, we strolled up Broadway to the best produce-fine-foods emporium in the city, Fairway, and stocked up for dinner. By the time we were done, a thunderstorm broke out, and we happily got soaked on our way to the subway.

The Yankee game was delayed for over an hour, but they eventually got it in. This is how lucky I am: Not only will my girlfriend tolerate me watching a game; she actually enjoys watching a game herself (I know she enjoys watching me watch a game). Hell, she'll even sit through a rain delay with me.

Ted Lily, looking thinner in the face than he did last year with the Yanks, pitched against Boomer Wells. It was another awful night for Em's boy, J. Giambi, who struck out three times, including once with the bases-loaded.

Emily was plum tuckered out, and napped on and off during the game. At one point she woke up and exclaimed, "I don't know if I was dreaming or not, but I think the Yankees have someone named Bubba playing for them. What the fuck is up with that?" She closed her eyes and went back to sleep.

The Yanks won 5-3, and it was a close, tense game. Robin Ventura drew a bases-loaded walk to break the tie, and Nick Johnson later pinch-hit with the bases-juiced again, and guess what? After taking two big hacks and fouling pitches off, he too drew a walk, which extended his streak of games with a base on balls to sixteen. Hooray!
Rivera pitched for the third-straight day, and for the second-straight day, looked sharp.

On Saturday morning, the Gods answered Emily's prayers and we tackled many messy area's in my apartment: the refrigerator got a thorough inspection and scouring, my closest took a beating, with old clothes being tossed, and the remaining one's being folded and put away neatly, and the corner of the room next to my bed, at long last, was straightened-up and organized. Oh, was Ms. Shapiro ever happy. Delicious relations followed all this purging, and then Em was off, and I was left to my own devices for the rest of the afternoon.

It was a cool, but sunny day in the Bronx, and when I was out getting the papers (getting the papers) in the a.m. I thought, Hey Giambi generally strikes me as an optimist. It's a brand new day. Maybe he can come out and relax a bit today.

Tim Hudson went up against Jeff Weaver in what turned out to be a dandy at the Stadium. Weaver pitched well, but let a couple off two-strike pitches get away from him, and left the game trailing 3-1. Hudson was brilliant. While Hudson may not be as dominating as Pedro Martinez (who pitched his first complete game of the year in Boston yesterday afternoon), he is built in his mold: diminutive, composed, and nasty. Roy Oswalt belongs to the club as well too.

Tim Hudson is the leader of the A's pitching staff and you can see why. He looks like the leader. On the mound, he has an icy-calm, and seems to be able to maximize his energy on each delivery. He was in full control yesterday, getting ahead of the Yankee hitters and making them hit the ball on the ground with his efficient sinker.

With his cap pulled down over his eyes, he almost looks like a kid's idea of a badass. Like something out of a comic strip. Hudson has a small mouth that gapes open as he looks to the catcher for the signs, and his scowl reminds me of a young Ray Liotta (though Hudson has a better complexion). He looks like Baby-faced Finster. There is nothing rushed about his demeanor. Calmly, he is in control of the proceedings. He could be a prison guard right out of "Cool Hand Luke," or maybe he could be Luke himself.

When Jorge Posada flew out to end the 7th inning, third base coach Willie Randolph made jogged by Hudson and made a comment that brought a smile to Hudson's face. It was no doubt a compliment.

Trailing 3-1 in the ninth, Oakland's manager gave the Yankees an opportunity by lifting Hudson in favor of closer Keith Foulke. I was preparing a sammich in the kitchen between innings and plotted out the perfect scenario: Nick Johnson leads off with a single; Giambi follows with a homer; Bernie follows that with a homer himself. And if he doesn't, then better yet, Godzilla does! See how easy it is to be a spoiled-ass Yankee fans?

Johnson did his part, by lining an outside fastball into the left field corner for a leadoff double. Of course, he had drawn a base on balls earlier against Hudson, and tied Willie Randolph for the team record of consecutive games with a walk at 17. Next, Giambi did his part, and got off the schnide, when he blasted a fastball off the faZade of the upper deck in right field to tie the game. I had my mouth full of sammich when he hit it, and I didn't know what to do with myself. So I just made a loud "MMMMMMM" chant, like Peter Boyle in "Young Frankenstein." I got up and started stomping around the living room, "MMM-MMM."

I even called Emily, who had been watching on her own. Needless to say, she was very happy for her boy.

But Bernie and Godzilla must have missed my cosmic memo, and the game went into extra innings. Juan Acevado coughed up the lead when Eric Chavez absolutely creamolished a fastball into the bleachers for a two-run homer. It was enough to give Oakland the "W," 4-2.

The Red Sox bullpen blew Friday night's game to drop the Home Nine four behind the Yanks, but they made it up on Saturday and again trail by only three.

The funniest moment in the Yankee game came in the top of the fourth. Eric Chavez popped out to Ventura in foul territory to start the inning. The winds were swirling yesterday and every pop fly became a miniature adventure. Ventura broke back to his right for the ball, and just at the last moment pivoted his shoulders back to the left to make the catch. Ventura slows the game down, and yet always seems in complete control. He had the ball the entire way. The only problem was that Erick Almonte was chasing the pop fly as well. There was no communication between the two, and right as Ventura squeezed the ball into his glove, he bumped into Almonte and the two fell over each other.

Almonte looked like an over-anxious puppy at the dog run. Ventura was nice not to scold him, let alone bite him. After Tejada reached on a single, Durazo sent a pop up to short left field. Ventura and Almonte went after the ball again, and this time Ventura clearly called him off. Almonte still was probably too close to Ventura, but that's only because puppies always like to hang around the older dogs.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.