July 11, 2007

Last Year At Marienbad

Just as I was getting ready to unload on another dull and dreary All-Star Game... it actually went and got interesting on us! While noting that, as always, the FOX coverage was still intensely terrible, the game itself had a number of highlights:

-Ichiro's inside-the-park home run. Who doesn't love inside the inside-the-park home runs? While less surprising than Prince Fielder's earlier this year, and less dramatic that Jose Reyes' last season (with the totally unnecessary headfirst slide/flop), it was still a kick. As a bonus, Ichiro's hit drove in "Ol' Butterfly-Head, Brian Roberts".

Question: who was the last Yankee to hit an inside-the-park home run? I can't remember, and it's proving tougher to research online than I thought; this is driving me nuts. Oh Google, why have you forsaken me? I did, however, discover that Wahoo Sam Crawford holds the all-time record for inside-the-park home runs, with... wait for it... 51. It was a different game back then, but that's still basically inconceivable.

-The New York teams represented fairly well: Reyes was 3-for-4, but Billy Wagner canceled him out by giving up the decisive two-run homer to Victor Martinez. Everyone else (Beltran, Wright, A-Rod and Jeter) went 1-for-3.

-It was very weird seeing Jorge Posada catch Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. What, Jorge couldn't have maybe drawn that inning out a bit, gotten him to throw a few more high-stress pitches? I swear, it's like he's not even trying sometimes. Meanwhile, what's the over/under on one or both of Posada's knees blowing out from overuse? I say August 15.

-I have never cared much for Tony La Russa as a manager, and he didn't grow on me during the playoffs last fall. So I was torn: since the Yankees seem unlikely to benefit from homefield advantage in the World Series this year, why not let the NL win one, right? It might yet come in handy for the Mets. On the other hand, I couldn't root for La Russa over Jim Leyland, who is light years awesomer -- and on that front, the game went better than I could have hoped. As you probably know by now, La Russa left Aaron Rowand in to bat with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, down by one run... with Albert Pujols on the bench.

Now, Rowand's a good hitter and all, but Pujols, off year or not, is one of the two or three best in the game. La Russa insisted that he needed him on the bench in case of extra innings, which is the same sort of logic Joe Torre has used too many times this season to explain leaving Mariano Rivera in the bullpen while poor overworked Scott Proctor blew the lead. Torre, however, has interpersonal skills coming out of his ears, and would no doubt have handled this a whole lot better:

"It's the All-Star Game. He can do what he wants," Pujols said Tuesday night. "He does whatever he wants. If I wasn't expecting to play, I wouldn't have come up here."

Pujols, the NL MVP in 2005 and key to the Cardinals' win in the World Series last year, said La Russa didn't talk to him the entire game. ...

..."If he wants to get upset, he can get upset," La Russa said. "Whatever he wants to do, he can do. It's America. That wasn't the most important thing tonight."

It is, indeed, America. Everyone can do what he wants. No doubt when the founding fathers drafted the first amendment, they had a scenario much like this one in mind.

Other items of note on this slow sports news day:

-The Yankees are, per ESPN, talking to A-Rod about a contract extension. All well and good... except they'll negotiate with him during the season, but not lifelong Yankees Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada? I can't imagine that's going to go over very well.


-And hey -- I almost forgot my own anniversary. Eephus Pitch turned 1 year old today; my first-ever post was on the 2006 All-Star Game (don't ask me what happened with the font there. I have no idea). At the time, I was summarizing Z-grade DVDs for a living; since then I've covered the Mets and Yankees in the playoffs for the Village Voice, as well as the Knicks, the Rangers, the Jets and Giants (definitely not doing that again), Cooperstown, and Spring Training, to say nothing of indoor lacrosse. I've been fired. And I got a book deal. And a dog.

So, in short: thanks for reading, everybody.

And to the hundreds and hundreds of people over the last twelve months who, quite understandably, came here looking for information on how to throw an eephus, and left confused and disappointed... sorry about that.


Anonymous said...

Mazel tov on a, um, remarkable year. Onward!

Anonymous said...

Nice dog. Labs rock.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your first-year anniversary, and thank you for countless informative, entertaining and exquisitely written observations on baseball and lots of other things! Looking forward to the next year!