The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Sunday, November 04, 2001


All the Marbles

Here it is. One game for all the marbles. There's no tomorrow. This is do or die. Championship or bust. All the money's on the table. This is it. This is the reason they play the.... Sorry. My cliché monkey got carried away while I was finishing my coffee. I could write a million words right now and not do justice to what's at stake here. This is Game 7 of the World Series, and anyone--player or fan--with an imagination has been there before. No further explanation needed.

There are four pieces of very good news for Yankee fans today:
1) Randy Johnson (2-0, 1.12 ERA, 18 K in 16 IP in the World Series) probably won't be pitching tonight.
2) Neither will Jay Witasick (54.00 ERA in 1.1 IP).
3) There will be no more Saturday games in this World Series. The Yanks have lost the two Saturday night games by a combined score of 24-3.
4) The Chow Mein group will be ordering Vietnamese Grilled Pork Chops tonight. Like a manager apportioning his resources, last night we deferred our traditional good mojo-inducing meal to a Game 7, if necessary. Perhaps we erred in not going for the kill, perhaps we were selfishly preserving our stomachs. Cholesterol counts be damned, tonight is it.

Like most Yankee fans, I found it impossible to take my own advice about enjoying the game last night. Somewhere, anywhere, it certainly DOES get better than being down 15 runs in the fourth inning in a World Series game. By the time it was 12-0, my friends and I had sought relief in Pee Wee's Big Adventure on HBO and were considering our other Saturday night social obligations.

But, as we've reminded ourselves a few times during this postseason, it's still only one game. Once it became apparent that Andy Pettitte REALLY didn't have it, Joe Torre managed to preserve the better end of his bullpen for Game 7. Witasick and Randy Choate, who pitched 2+ innings, don't figure much in Torre's plans, and Mike Stanton, also with 2 innings, needed the work anyway.

That was last night, which is as gone as a Barry Bonds home run. Tonight's matchup features two 20-game winners in Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens--a marquee pairing if there ever was one. Neither pitcher is 100%, but all hands (except for the aforementioned) are on deck to pitch. Bob Brenly will probably have to pry the ball out of Schilling's cold, dead hand, while the Yanks will look for 6 innings from Clemens, one from Ramiro Mendoza and/or Stanton, and then two from Mariano Rivera (it's 11 AM and my heart just started pounding with an adrenaline surge as I typed that). Neither starter has ever pitched a game as big as this. Clemens has closed out a World Series before, in 1999, and his tightrope-walking performance on Tuesday in the face of a 2-0 deficit was as clutch as he's ever been. As for Schilling, I'm not going to review the soap opera that's played out between him and Bob Brenly over the past three days; I suspect it's equal parts bullshit, ego inflation, and gamesmanship directed at the Yankees.

Win or lose, this is undoubtedly the final hurrah in pinstripes for a significant portion of these Yankees. Paul O'Neill is retiring, as is Luis Sojo. Despite his home-run heroics in Game 5, Scott Brosius probably evaporated any chances of a contract renewal by opening the floodgates on a wide throw to Jorge Posada in the second inning last night. Chuck Knoblauch is likely on the first bus out of town. Tino Martinez might be gone as well. Orlando Hernandez's status is up in the air. David Justice may have played his way out of town... the list goes on. You could win some championships with that bunch.

But those potential departures are issues for tomorrow. Tonight these are still the New York Yankees, and they've got a dyansty to defend. If anyone thinks they're going down without a fight, they'd best think again. You never know what you're going to get with a Game 7--an 11-0 blowout like in 1985 or a tense 1-0 thriller like in 1991. My money's still on Rivera leaping into Jorge Posada's arms once again. GO YANKEES!

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