Saturday, May 15, 2010

Yankees 7, Twins 1

Guess I know why an afternoon win is so cool: you carry it with you all day, and all night.

Never mind Tex's monster homer to the really expensive seats, nor Posada's home run off the crossbar next to the restaurant that jumpred up into the seats above the restaurant . . .

Focus on: Andy Pettitte. 5-0. ERA: 1.79.

Five rings. Eight pennants.

He is, as my Irish (mother's side) ancestors would say, right in the gloaming.

What I remember, more than his World Series-winning start, is his start against the Angels to win the pennant last year. His first two pitches, against Chone Figgins, the Angels' lead-off man, left-handed batter.

First pitch, I think a slider, low and at the outside corner. Figgins didn't offer. Strike one.

Second pitch--and this was the entire game. As they say in Boston, wicked cuttah. Figgins flinched his back arm, then watched the ball sail by. He knew: had he hit it, it would have been a soft grounder to Jeter. What was the use?

The ump raise his right arm. Strike two. I was standing in a restaurant bar, waiting for my food, but I knew the pennant was decided right there, two pitches in. I shouted, "Oh, you guys are in trouble tonight."

And so they were. And so we come with Pettitte: in the gloaming, the same hazy netherworld that enveloped Jim Rice and Goose Gossage all those years; the same fog that will envelope Jeff Bagwell and Jeff Kent; the same nip that may grab hold of Craig Biggio.

Just a thought. Of the Yankees of the late-40s and early-50s, there was no thought as to who was their most valuable player. On a team with the aging DiMaggio; the steady Henrich, Keller, and Bauer; the youthful Mantle, McDougald, and Brown; the pitchers Reynolds, Raschi, Lopat, Ford, and Page; and the ubiquitous Berra; the year-by-year MVP was Scooter Rizzuto. For a shortstop, his arm was almost comically weak, but his instincts were otherwordly and his reflexes almost cosmic--maybe, for a left-sided infielder, him and Brooks Robinson and Ozzie Smith, and that's it, all through history. Okay, Honus Wagner.

The word was out from the Yankees: spike Scooter, deal with us. So it was that, after Phil was taken out of a double play, the ailing DiMaggio ran through a clean single just to slash his spikes at the other team's second baseman. Joe D was out, but the point was made.

For all that, it took a half century to get Scooter into the Hall.

I think of this when I think of Lefty.

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