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.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Basking with the Ho-Hum Guy

Basking in the afterglow of that miraculous Dodger win, I caught the postgame interview footage with Jeff Kent. Now, I'm not a fan of Kent's winning personality, as I wrote before, but I respect the hell out of his game, and for a guy who treats baseball like a job instead of a passion, he's certainly somebody who gets the job done more often than not [late note: not Wednesday night, when he struck out with two outs and the bases loaded, the Dodgers down by two, to end the game].

With the rest of the team whooping and hollering as if they'd clinched a playoff spot after Monday night's win, Kent sounded like a killjoy:
"I'm standing here as your ho-hum guy. I'm not too excited about this. This is just one game in 162 that we're trying to get ahead on. It was a great game, don't get me wrong. But for me, I'm taking this one in stride."
A killjoy, perhaps, but a correct one. Sure enough, Kent's words came back to haunt the Dodgers, as they lost on Tuesday night to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 10-6, and fell out of first place with a Padres victory. Marlon Anderson, one of the biggest heroes of Monday night, made a valiant effort to prevent Jose Bautista's grand slam by diving into the stands, then slammed a three-run homer -- his third in two days and his fifth this month -- to narrow a 10-3 lead, offering a brief flicker of hope. But the magic wand was out of batteries, and that was as close as the Dodgers got. Sigh.

As Earl Weaver once said, "This ain't football. We do this every day." And when that means the 2006 Dodgers, every day may include a blow to the solar plexus or pure, unadulterated joy. Still, Tuesday's revelry was fun. A few favorite responses from around the web:

• Robert Daely, who attended the game and kept score, concludes his entry at a blog called Celcius 1414: "So what's the scoring symbol for a miracle?"

• Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts, who also attended, offered up an SOS on Tuesday's one-line entry, titled "Help Me": "I can't think. I can't think about anything else." Finally getting the chance to post at length, he wrote:
Pure, glorious torture.

One of the wonderful things about Tuesday was to see the entire community share in the wonder of the Fourmer game. (No, I know that doesn't really work, but you know what I'm talking about.) You might not have even known there was a community until Nomar Garciaparra's exclamation point flew into the left-field bleachers. So many people were talking about it, and man, so many people were writing about it.

And it killed me not to be able to join in. Monday night was a blessing, but my Tuesday work schedule was a curse.

It was humbling to see everyone else do everything I wanted to do: recount their tales of attending or not attending, transcribe Vin Scully's call, round up reactions, pull together video montages, interview participants, write open letters to their sleeping children. I wanted to do it all. Instead, I was just left with being an ordinary fan blessed with having experienced the event live. It's okay, but I'm jealous.

The genius of Scully is that he doesn't need any extra time to put his stamp on history, not one extra moment. He speaks directly into history.
Let's get this straight. I sit writing at home, 3,000 miles away, while you get a loge box seat to view history and you're jealous, Jon?

I actually understand that.

• Speaking of Scully, here's a five-minute YouTube montage -- viewed over 10,000 times as I write this -- that captures his call of the five homers. If it had only gone on another 30 seconds or so, his awesome, belated reminder about the team being in first place would have made the cut. There's a more complete, higher-quality two-part clip that runs about 14 minutes which includes that reminder as well as his sign-off.

That game simply wouldn't have been the same without Vin.

• Rob McMillan at 6-4-2, where I haven't spent enough time lately, offers a thorough roundup of all of the Four Homer Game links. He reminded me that I neglected to include a note about the confrontation between Dodger first base coach Mariano Duncan and Padre pitcher Jake Peavy. "Obviously, it upset me," said Peavy, "but that had nothing to do with me not throwing quality pitches."

As Rob corrected my last post (and rightly so), I'll point out that the spat occurred after the first inning, not before the game.

• Eric Neel at ESPN's Page 2, wrote a letter to his sleeping young son:
What happened was one of the six best Dodgers games I've ever seen -- right up there with the R.J. Reynolds squeeze game, the Rick Monday walk-off game, Game 4 of the 1988 NLCS, Steve Finley's grand slam game two years ago, and the night Gibson went deep off Eckersley in the first game of the World Series. Remind me to tell you about those games some day, but for now, I'll tell you about this one, because you asked me to, and because I can't believe it happened.

...I'm laughing out loud as he runs the bases. And dancing, too. And so is mom. I'm singing out my list of all-time Dodgers games and shaking my head like a bobblehead. We waltz into your room and sidle up to your top bunk and I just say, "We got 'em, T."

I want to tell you more, but like me, you're lost in a dream.
That particular dream is over -- the Dodgers lost again on Wednesday night, but so did the Padres -- but long live the dream.

• Scully was again in classic form during Wednesday night's game. I'm simply not sure I could get through this nightly rollercoaster without presence and his counseling. He speaks with the authority of somebody who's seen and called more than a half-century of Dodger ups and downs but has had -- is still having -- far too much fun to grow jaded or frustrated.

With the Dodgers trailing by two but threatening to tie:
"Well, I'll tell you what, you might as well get accustomed to this. It's going to be like this every day, right on through the first of October, I believe," he said, elongating "every" into its three-syllable form.
After the game, with the fans beginning to file out once Kent's strikeout left their comeback unfulfilled, and an on-screen graphic showing the Dodgers tied with the Phillies in the Wild Card standings and a half-game behind the Padres in the West:
"It is really something. And we still have four left here, and six on the road. Ten games left and they all go nose-to-nose down to the wire. Hope you'll be out here to join in the fun, the excitement, the disappointment, the euphoria, what-ever. It's a great game and a great team to watch."
Amen, Vin.

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