Sitting in the front seat of the Peter Pan bus I took to New York City this weekend didn't seem like such a bad idea at first. In fact, it was pretty cool, giving me a view of the highway I hadn't seen since my logistics days. But, the city part of the trip turned out to be a little nerve-racking. Let's just say I was a little stressed out by how non-defensive our driver was.
Particularly stressful was witnessing the cavalcade of buses and taxis driving down Lexington Avenue with no regard for the concept of staying in a lane. At one point, as we sat at a light, I counted that 16 of the 18 cars between us and the traffic signal were cabs. Then, I watched as our bus turned right onto 42nd Street, a cab doing the same from the lane just to our right, all the while a bicyclist driving against traffic somehow maneuvered between the two vehicles.
As I took this all in, I wondered to myself how often it happens that Bostonians as pedestrians get hit by cars when visiting Manhattan.
Lee and I arrived at Saturday's game early, promised a short tour of the Yankee stadium control room by an old friend of his who works there. It was quite the impressive operation, of course, and the idea that we'd join Lee's pal for a post-game beer in that same room was on the table. However, the lateness of the game, family obligations, and our desire to make the night less eventful than the last time I visited, pretty much nixed that idea.
The game was a good one, basically a pitchers duel until Billy Wagner's relief appearance. But, I'll discuss him a little later. CC Sabathia briefly flirted with baseball immortality, throwing 3 2/3 perfect innings before walking Victor Martinez in the 4th. Mike Lowell then broke up the no-hitter with a single to lead off the 5th, but Sabathia pitched tremendously, allowing only one more walk, while striking out eight, over seven scoreless innings.
The Yankees had more opportunities against Daisuke Matsuzaka—including a bases-loaded, none out situation that they squandered in the 5th—but didn't get on the board until Robinson Cano's line drive opposite field solo homer in the 6th.
Billy Wagner brought back memories of some of his past shaky performances against the Yankees, allowing two runs in the 8th inning. Somehow these runs were considered unearned because of what I would consider to be a flaw in the official scoring system, but the fact of the matter is he gave up a hit, two walks, and a hit by pitch in two-thirds of an inning.
Wagner's appearance inspired my idea that the stadium play America's "Sandman" as his entrance music, the thought being that it's a much less intimidating song than Metallica's "Enter Sandman." It was written by a guy named Dewey Bunnell, after all. In case you're not aware, there was a short-lived controversy when Wagner came to the Mets, caused by the fact that he also used Mariano Rivera's signature "Enter Sandman" as his entrance song.
It was probably only a few Yankees fans who were really bothered by this, but I thought it would be fun, now that he's with the Red Sox, to stir it up again. Other candidates would be Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" and the 50s hit "Mr. Sandman," although the latter might be taking the idea a little too far.
There were many fewer Red Sox fans in attendance than at Yanks-Sox matchups in the past. As a result, there was a lot less intensity among fans. I didn't witness anything even resembling a disagreement for the entire game. Lee gave me a hard time, though, for a friendly interaction with a Sox fan, as we compared the service between Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium while waiting for more than a half inning, on what otherwise seemed like a reasonable line, for garlic fries.
Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Rivera, combined for 12 strikeouts, and allowed just two hits, two walks and two HBP—both Kevin Youkilis, of course—in a 3-0 Yankees victory. With the Yankees' three-game sweep of the Red Sox this weekend, they clinched first place in the AL East, as well as the best record in the league.
Most people in the know seem to believe that the Red Sox are better equipped than any other team for the post-season. It is true that, with the recent success of Clay Buchholz, Matsuzaka's strong return from the disabled list, and the addition of Wagner to the bullpen, things are falling into place for Boston. But, the Yankees seem to have something special going on as well. So, I'll guess we'll just have to wait and see what October has in store for these long-standing rivals.
From the Archives: Cup of Coffee—Cliff Lee
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