An ode to the out

Three pitchers debut in the desert
Mailbag: Darvish, UDFAs, Montero, Brewers

Unlike the other major sports, baseball, as we well know, is not a game that adheres to a clock. Time may pass quickly or, as is often the case with the Yankees, games can slow to a crawl as batters take pitch after pitch. All told, the Yankees played over 507 hours worth of baseball in 2011 and ended the season with the same 162-game schedule as the Mariners who posted just 447 hours.

The currency of baseball then is the out. The Tigers and the Yankees each have 27 outs, divided into groups of three, in which to score or stop the other team from doing so. For one of those teams, all they have left in the season after 166 previous games, are those 27 outs. Outscore your opponent after those outs and play the Rangers; lose and dig in for a long winter of maybes.

For Yankee fans, a do-or-die, best-of-one scenario isn’t entirely a rarity. The Yanks have played in 31 previous postseason series since baseball added the Wild Card, and eight of those have gone the distance. (Mike charted the ALDS earlier on Wednesday while Larry Koestler at The Yankee Analysts added the ALCS and World Series Game 7s to the list.) Of those eight, the Yanks have won three and lost five.

Game 5 (or 7) for me has always been about counting down outs. The 1995 loss to the Mariners is a fleeting one in my memory. I was young and just thrilled that the Yanks had made it to the playoffs for the first time in my life. The loss in 1997, too, is a blur. As I got older, though, the Game 5s grew more and more tense. In 2000, the Yanks made us all feel better pretty quickly, but the A’s inched back in it. It was a comeback that never happened.

A year later, and just a month removed from September 11, the Yanks and A’s would square off again in Game 5, and this time, the Yanks seemed like a team of destiny. Thanks to a play from Derek Jeter than will live in infamy and one of the most overlooked pitching performances in Mike Mussina’s Yankee tenure, the team overcame a 2-0 lead to oust the A’s. I was at Yankee Stadium for that game, and the atmosphere, as it always is during potential clinching games, was electric. The crowd would not let the Yankees lose.

In 2003, it took a few extra outs as 27 would not be enough. With just five of their own offensive outs remaining, the Yanks staged an improbable comeback, and Aaron Boone added the exclamation point. A year later….well, we know how that ended. In 2005, the Yanks, maybe feeling the pressure of living down the previous year’s collapse, fell apart defensively. Those were 27 outs to forget.

And so we’re back with just 27 outs separating us and the team with which we live and die from their destiny. If everything goes according to plan, 15-18 of those outs are Ivan Nova‘s and the remaining 9-12 belong to Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and, of course, Mariano Rivera who has thrown just three pitches during the ALDS. You can’t watch the outs melt away until the game starts, but Rivera looms, as sure a thing as there is in baseball. Some of those outs might just be easier to get than others because of him.

Whenever these do-or-die games come along, I find the waiting to be the hardest part. We have 20 hours to go before the Yanks and Tigers start their march toward the ninth inning. When it does, I’ll be ticking off the outs, hoping the 27 we need to move on and live for another series come easier than those the Tigers need. I’m not ready for the season to end yet. I’d like another day, another game, another series, another 27 outs.

Three pitchers debut in the desert
Mailbag: Darvish, UDFAs, Montero, Brewers
  • Mariano’s Pimp Hand

    I’m not ready for the season to end yet. I’d like another day, another game, another series, another 27 outs.
    My sentiments exactly.

  • mbonzo

    Well done. Summed up what millions of Yankees fans felt for the last 2 days, and the last day for the Tigers. Its anticipation where the outcome carries an extreme success or an extreme failure. I remember this feeling when professors would hand back tests or waiting after a job interview. I’m confident this team possesses the ability to beat the Tigers tonight, but there lingers worry in the back of my mind that anything can happen in baseball.

  • Kibbitty

    Here’s hoping the Yanks only get out 24 times tomorrow ;)

  • ED

    Bravo, good sir.

  • Peter R

    here here!

  • Andrew j.

    this one seems like the last hurdle. we getby the tigers and it’s smooth sailing from then on.

  • dkidd

    joe girardi should read this ode to outs; maybe he would stop giving them away

    counting the minutes…

    • Riddering

      Every manager should read this ode to outs; maybe they would stop giving them away.


  • Brian S.

    I can’t concentrate in class or at work when the Yankees are a game away from elimination. These last two days have killed me.

  • Jesse

    Honestly, I try not to count down the outs. When I do it seems like the game goes by A LOT slower. At least that’s how it is with me.

  • A-ROD fan

    Off topic

    I saw Miguel Cabrera eating on a restaurant at 49th street and 6th ave 2 hours ago.

    • Jesse

      Did he have anything to drink?

      • A-ROD fan

        Hahaha he was with to women I thing I saw some beers. But not jonhny walker. LOLz

        • Jesse

          Sorry but I had to go there.

    • Brian S.

      On a restaurant? They wouldn’t even let him inside?

      • Jesse

        Cut him some slack, he meant “In” instead of “On”. The “O” key is right next to the “I” key.

      • A-ROD fan


      • LGY


    • Kibbitty

      Really? Damn. I was hoping he somehow didn’t make it…

  • dennyneagleshooker

    i bought a blowjob right after my 4.2 innings pitched in the 2000 world series, kiss the ring bitch

    • JimIsBored (Jim S)

      Wait, denny neagle’s hooker bought a blowjob? Not sure it works that way…

  • forensic

    I read the title and thought for sure it was another post about not bunting.

  • Rich in NJ

    Survive and advance.

  • Kiko Jones

    As corny as it sounds, because there is no clock, baseball is a game of hope.

    In the Super Bowl if you’re down by an obscene amount with a minute or two left, you’re season is over. Same in Game 7 of The Finals. But you could be losing badly with 2 outs in the ninth in Game 7 of the World Series, and it might be improbable but not impossible to come back and tie it or maybe win it all. As long as you can avoid out 27 you have a chance.

  • Darren

    I hope Joe doesn’t automatically use Mo for two. I’d rather see Robertson for the 8th and Mo in the 9th, if we have the luxury to set that up.

  • Yes That One

    For the love of Jesus (Montero), I hope they don’t give away any of those precious outs by bunting!!!

  • Bavarian Yankee

    I’m so excited about game 5. Maybe I’ll even watch it live (I live in Germany and the game starts at 2.30 AM over here).

    btw: very exciting playoffs so far, we’re going to see a game 5 three times. How great is that!? The division series in the past years have been pretty boring compared to this year.

  • Kevin

    I wish Tampa had beaten Texas…then we could just worry about the pitching and not the offense.

    • Monteroisdinero

      We’ve done well against Texas this year and have a revenge motivation. Jeter hit 2 HR’s in one game at Texas in the same game Cervelli hit a granny! We can outscore them.

      I think if Tampa had won, after their late season exploits, they may have been more dangerous.

      But we are getting ahead of ourselves. I am nervous about today. Somehow, in the you can’t predict baseball line of thinking, I have a bad feeling Mo is going to give it up late but of course I must be wrong. Hopefully we won’t have to sweat out a close game.

  • Erica

    I had this horrendous nightmare last night wherein the Yankees did not win tonight. It was horrible and too realistic.

    This will be the longest day ever.

    BTW – for anyone in the city – are any of you going to meet Andy Pettitte at Macy’s tonight? He’ll be there at 5:30 pm; he’s the new spokesman for Weatherproof.

  • CS Yankee

    I’m hoping that the Yankees only use about 25 outs tonight as that would mean that Valverde gives it up ala walk-off style.

    Hopefuly we have good umps and Nova is successful expanding the zone and Jorge (& CO) pounds Fister early-n-often.

  • David, Jr.

    Not worried here. Detroit will shit the bed. Easy win.

    • Erica

      Why do you think so?

  • Johnny O

    “the waiting is the hardest part”
    -Tom Petty and Ben Kabak

    • JohnC

      “the waiting is the hardest part”
      As Vladmir and Estragon foud out in Waiting For Godot

    • JimIsBored (Jim S)

      /deadspin comment’d

  • Riddering

    Beautiful article, Ben. You capture the feeling and philosophy of this time well. When it comes to postseason games like this the waiting is unbearable even as you want the Yankees’ season to last for as much longer as possible.

  • Evan in NYC

    Well put Ben, well put. Let’s Go Yankees!

  • LiterallyFigurative

    A part of me thinks that this is A-Rod’s night tonight. He’s looked alot more locked in the past two games, and it would be great to see an A-Bomb with a couple of ducks on the pond.

    I want Nova for 7, Mo for 2.