Aug
28

A fitting way to end a chapter in a storied rivalry

By

Unless the stars align and the Yankees and Red Sox both make the playoffs this year, this afternoon’s game between the two rival clubs marked the team’s last meeting in Yankee Stadium. As the Yankees did on Wednesday, April 18, 1923, when they opened the House that Ruth Built, New York emerged victorious over Boston for one final time in Yankee Stadium.

Today’s game, in a way, was a vital one not only for the Yankees but for Mike Mussina too. Moose won his 16th game of the year on August 27, and now he won’t win number 17 until at least September. He’s going to have to be nearly perfect to earn himself that elusive 20-win season.

Of course, it didn’t have to be like that today for Mussina, and for that, we again turn to everyone’s favorite punching bag. With two on and one out in the first, A-Rod struck out. With two on and one out in the sixth, A-Rod fouled out to Jason Varitek. Until the seventh, it just seemed, yet again, like one of those games.

But while Mussina would give up his two runs when he hit the Sox’s number eight batter, so too would the Yanks’ bottom of the order come back to haunt Boston. In the seventh, with two outs, Cody Ransom doubled. He’s now 3 for 4 in his short Yankee career. With Jose Molina due up and Hideki Okajima on the mound, Joe Girardi made the right move. While the lefty-lefty matchup didn’t favor the Yanks, Jason Giambi didn’t care, and he launched a ball into center field. Perhaps sitting Giambi against lefties all year hasn’t been the best strategy.

These runs offered the Yankee faithful a glimmer of hope, but in the 8th, when Girardi started to mix and match pitchers, Mussina lost his chance to walk away with a W. He’ll have to win four starts in September to get there.

In the 9th, the Red Sox seemed destined to tempt fate. With Jonathan Papelbon at the ready, they opted to stick with Justin Masterson instead. Masterson allowed a lead-off single to Xavier Nady, and while Robinson Cano failed to advance the runner, a Brett Gardner stolen base — he’s still alive! — pushed the winning run into scoring position. Hideki Matsui was intentionally walked; Pudge Rodriguez was unintentionally walked. And in came Papelbon.

Once again, the fate of the Yankees rested in Jason Giambi’s skilled hands, and he delivered a sharp single into center field. Jason Giambi 3, Boston Red Sox 2. Game over. Yankees win.

In the end, today’s win prevented the more pessimistic among us from driving another nail into the Yankee coffin. They’re six out of the Wild Card with 29 games to play, and they have to outplay both the Red Sox and whichever team doesn’t win the AL Central. They also need to avoid losing to the Blue Jays’ far superior pitchers this weekend.

But for a day, we can forget, to a point, about these travails. In the last meeting between two archrivals in Yankee Stadium, the home team — our home team — won a thrilling game with a walk-off single, and a first-ballot Hall of Fame pitcher — Mariano Rivera — earned the win. Playoffs or not, during a season in which the Yanks would almost rather have their fans forget about the impending demise of Yankee Stadium, during a season in which the team is sending their stadium off with a whimper instead of a roar, today’s storybook game was one for the ages.

Categories : Game Stories

46 Comments»

  1. Steve says:

    Ahhh. I thought the very same thing and was waiting for one of you guys to write this piece. You didn’t let me down.

    • Mike T says:

      Me either! I’m just happy that the final time the red sox were on the field at the stadium the game was, even thoug it wasn’t a bs, it was PapelBLOWN!

  2. Brett says:

    I’ve “given up” on any hope of making the playoffs, but plan to watch as much Yankee baseball as I can as I have for the last 30 years and its always good to beat the Red Sox no matter what the situation. I’m looking forward to a final Sep in the Cathedral.

    • Steve says:

      Yeah, I’m with you. Having expectations for this team is just too frustrating considering the way it has played and it ruins my enjoyment of the games. ‘Giving up’ frees me to simply watch the games for the fun of it, not caring about the outcome.

      At this point its unreasonable to have expectations given the odds against making the playoffs (5-7%) and the way this team has played all year, which (despite the good result) includes today. Its a bad bet, and I don’t make bad bets.

      I hope the Yankee front office doesn’t take this game as fools gold, thinking they’re still in it. I’d like to see them bring up the kids, so we can have a better idea of what to do leading into next season. Gardner everyday in CF, Kennedy and Hughes in the rotation, let Melancon get his toes wet with a few appearances. That’s what I’m looking forward to watching. The fans will still show up to say goodbye to the old ballpark, and the new stadium will sell out no matter what the Yanks do this year. I think the Yankee brass knows this, the Pavano move this morning signals a bias toward selling as opposed to trying to win everyday.

      Who knows, the team might actually play BETTER with the kids.

  3. Steve says:

    BTW-Guys like Shaunessy and Gammons will capture beautifully the elements of this final battle between these two rivals and all the little stories woven into it. The aging Mussina was pitted against the young, up and coming Lester (who has an amazing story of his own). It was played like game 7 of a WS, A-Rod continued his season long struggles in big spots, the aging, much maligned and ineffective Giambi ends up being the hero off the bench, There’s just tons here to spin a narrative on, you could write a book about this one game. Mo gets the win, Paps on the mound for the final AB of the final game in this ballpark.

    Unfortunately, none of our local sportswriters have the imagination to do so.

  4. A.D. says:

    All BG does is have a part in game winning runs.

    Despite this season I’m looking forward to my sept tickets, and despite all the BS on ticket prices, tax exempt bonds, etc looking forward to the new cathedral

    • steve (different one) says:

      that’s not all he does. he also strikes out a lot.

      • Mike A. says:

        And he runs really fast.

        • Steve says:

          I think BA had him as “Best plate discipline” in the entire Yankee farm system either this year or last. So the SO thing is very likely just a function of him adjusting to a new level.

          Girardi said he was actually being too patient, always taking the first few pitches and getting himself into bad counts and the getting put away with breaking stuff. It won’t work up here until he gets pitchers to know he will hurt them coming right over the plate right away. So he had to earn the respect of MLB pitchers first, in order to do be patient.

  5. bill says:

    Its weird how things work out like that. As soon as Giambi tied the game, I knew it would end on a walkoff of some sort

  6. D.B. says:

    The yanks played well today, i just wish this would have been the first game of the season. The yankees needed a sweep to have a chance at the playoffs.

  7. cult of basebaal says:

    obviously my comment in the game thread was right … it’s not giambi’s fault he’s failing with RiSP, it’s the fact that our cleanup spot … err … toe-may-toe … err, 5th spot is cursed!!!

    move him down to 9th and he’s money in the bank, baby!

  8. Brett says:

    I would really like to see Moose win 20 though.

    • Steve says:

      So would I.

      For the Phillies.

      Plus, that would give the added benefit of him breaking the Met fans hearts along the way. I might trade him for that reason alone.

  9. stuart says:

    3 runs or less again today.. 57 times.. these guys cannot hit good pitching, it is unbelievable.

    any win is a good win..

    • Steve says:

      Well sort of.

      Lets not be deceived by today’s result that the Yanks have turned things around. I saw all the same things today that have killed this team all year. Lack of execution of a bunt (Cano) not advancing runners, lack of a numerous sac flies that could have made this an easy win, A-Rod ineptitude at the plate, on and on.

      It was a fun game, but thinking this is some launching point is fool’s gold. Especially with Burnett and Halladay looming.

      • Ivan says:

        to be fair, Cano is not a good bunter and Cano is too talented of a hitter to ask to bunt anyway, especially a very fast runner like Gardner who can steal second.

        • Steve says:

          Which is exactly the problem with this team. All chiefs, no indians.

          • steve (different one) says:

            seriously. the yankees need more shitty players.

            • Steve says:

              Do yourself a favor, look up the rosters of the championship teams. We didn’t have an All Star at 3rd, at 2nd, and we didn’t have a regular LF for most of the run. Yet somehow, we won 4 out of 5 years. How did we win with all those “shitty players”?

              If Scott Brosius was available today, guys like you would run Cashman out of town for signing him. Look up his career stats. He had an OPS+ of 70 in the championship year of 2000. How’s that for a shitty player?

              http://www.baseball-reference......sc01.shtml

              The 1998 team didn’t have ONE starter on the All Star team that year, not one. And yet somehow, they won more games than any team in the history of baseball that year.

              If you think we need an all-star guy with big stats at every position, then you just haven’t been paying attention this year. Or for the past 5 years.

    • Brett says:

      That stat is just brutal. Its not just good pitching apparently, there aren’t that many good pitchers.

  10. Sam P. says:

    Anyone come across a simulation where we could see what sort of record the Yanks might have had w/ Wang in the rotation all year? At least we might have been spared extra Ponson / Rasner starts. It would be interesting to see about, at least I think so.

  11. Pops says:

    What’s free about free agency: Whether Teixeira ends up in the Bronx or not, the Yankees’ free-agent hyperactivity figures to make this an expensive market for any team to shop in. The Yankees have about $90 million in expiring contracts (most of it courtesy of Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu, Carl Pavano, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and Pudge Rodriguez/Kyle Farnsworth). Even if they bring back a couple of those guys at reduced rates, that’s way too much money for a team like this to have burning a hole in its pocket as it heads into a new ballpark. So other clubs already are hearing that the Yankees plan to put a full-court press on CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets (if Sabathia rejects them) and Teixeira. And that will drive up free-agent prices for everybody, as agents everywhere rejoice———————–courtesy jason stark

    • Steve says:

      When Hank and Hal took over, it was said at the time that they were interested in reducing payroll long term. George was willing to spend anything, they are willing to spend, but within reason.

      It won’t surprise me if they get the payroll down to around 175 next year, and stay there. If they sign CC and Tex at around 20 each, you’re adding 40 and if you let most of the FAs go you’re subtracting 80. That, and bringing back Pettite would put them around 175.

  12. BigBlueAL says:

    On a side note, I just received for some reason a complimentary issue of the new Sporting News today and in it was a pretty long article about the new Yankee Stadium and how much money it will generate for the Yankees. It is absolutely insane how richer the Yankees will become with this new stadium, the numbers they are talking about are mind-boggling. It could get to a point where the Yankees could have a 300 million dollar payroll and not blink an eye.

    Screw all this calling up “prospects” and building for the future through the farm system crap, buy out entire team rosters and really dominate like the good old days!!!!

    • Steve says:

      In 1998, we were #2 in payroll (behind BALT) and had one of the best teams in Baseball history.

      In the last 5 years we have had all stars at every position, have been about 20% higher than anyone else and have won nothing.

      Its not just about money. If it was, we would have won something since 2000. And we would be making the playoffs this year.

      • BigBlueAL says:

        I was being sarcastic, although for all the talk in this blog about the farm system and stuff lets face it the best way for the Yankees to rebound next season in a big way is how??? Signing big-time FA’s or making key trades.

        Of course having Wang and Joba healthy for the entire season wont hurt…….

        • mustang says:

          So true if you look at the championship teams they are mostly made up of big-time FA’s or making key trades.
          It’s going to be interesting next year this retooling shit is not going to play well for a second year. Most of the youth movement either took a step back or stay the same. The idea that they were going to take a hit this year to develop some young talent didn’t come off liked they planned.

  13. mustang says:

    I’m tired of getting on A-Rod at this point it’s so easy that it’s getting boring. I like that he actually show some emotion in the dugout at least it looks like he gives a shit.

    • BigBlueAL says:

      C’mon rip him all you want but dont tell me you ever thought he didnt give a shit before. Problem probably is he gives a shit too much.

      • mustang says:

        I know he gives a shit too much. It’s just nice to see him show some emotion that ‘s all.
        Damn even when I try to be nice to him it comes out wrong.
        LOL

  14. It was a difficult game to watch from my seat in the Tiers, but I hung in there with my 7 yr old son and I’m glad I did. I can think back to this game – with ALL it’s faults (can anyone on this team bunt? Is Alex doing his best Ed Whitson immitation? Is Pudge? Don’t get me started….) and remember we beat the sox that final year.

    My son asked me if I thought it was a good game. I replied, “any game you beat the Sox, it’s a good game”.

    A small aside. I couldn’t resist: The Dodgers designated Tanyon Sturtze for assignment. The 37 year-old pitched only 2.1 innings for the big club.

    Peace until I’m in the Tiers with my other son Fri night vs Toronto. If you want to cling to hope, we MUST BEAT Burnett !

    -Scott
    PS We’re now PROUD to advertise on River Ave!

  15. Randy says:

    crazier things have happened. i know the numbers are bad but its not over yet. its hard for me to believe that the greatest venue in all of sports is gonna go out like that. the rockies and the phillies showed it can be done. plus, beckett might be done for the year and minnesota is starting to slip a little bit. you never know…

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