When games start out exciting, they usually end up that way as well. When games start awful, that’s usually never a good sign. But when games start rather routine and don’t stay routine, it’s that nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat kind of action that gets your adrenaline pumping all the way to the last out. It’s only fitting that today’s game was rather exciting, or at least became that way, being as it’s the 100th game of the Yankees season. So it was nice not only to get a win, but a really exciting win.
I feel bad for starter Phil Hughes tonight. He started out so well, and then because of a fielding error (not his fault), a cascade of events suddenly led to the Yankees early lead crumbling all in the 6th inning. Here’s what happened: with 1 out, a fielding error by 3rd baseman Brent Lillibridge allowed a Ranger to reach 1st; a double scored the runner; a fly out advanced the baserunner to 3rd; and a single scored the runner. At this point, they pulled Hughes for Boone Logan, who promptly allowed a 2-run home run and a double. Bye-bye, Logan. Hello, Preston Claiborne. Claiborne is really stepping up in the bullpen, and tonight was no exception; he got the next 4 batters out. Joba Chamberlain became the set-up man in the 8th and actually set-up 2 rather spectacular plays for the ever-reliable, ever-amazing Brett Gardner. Chamberlain would also get tonight’s win, but let me explain.
It started out pretty good in the 3rd inning. Recent call-up Melky Mesa doubled (nice way to say hello in pinstripes this year) and then scored on Austin Romine’s double. Brett Gardner singled, moving Romine to 3rd. Ichiro Suzuki singles, moving Gardner to 2nd and scoring Romine. This no out inning ends pretty quickly with a double play and fly out. But the damage has begun, albeit rather routinely. In the 4th, Vernon Wells doubles and scored when Lillibridge hit into a fielder’s choice. And so the Yankees sat at 3 runs scored.
By the end of the 6th inning and the Rangers suddenly came alive, the score was 4-3 Texas. And so with their last shot at the game, in the 9th inning and one out, the Rangers walked Wells, advancing him to 2nd on a wild pitch. So when Eduardo Nunez saw a pitch he liked, he plowed it deep out to left-center field, scoring Wells easily, and landing very safely at 3rd for a triple. He’s so speedy that I think he would’ve made it home, but coming around 2nd, Nunez stumbled a bit and probably didn’t want to risk it. But that’s okay because Nunez jogged home on Lillibridge’s single. And the score was suddenly 5-4 Yankees.
So guess who was very quickly up in the visitor’s bullpen in Arlington. With cameras out and clicking, Metallica over the speakers, everyone on their feet and cheering, Mariano Rivera jogged to the mound for a quick 12 pitch bottom of the 9th for his 32nd save and a really fantastic Yankee win.
I know I say it a lot (but in baseball, how could you not?), but Yogi’s a very wise man — “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” I imagine Yankee fans everywhere kicking themselves for giving up, walking out or changing the channel seeing the Rangers up 4-3 going into the 9th inning. “O, ye of little faith.” I mean, they’re the Yankees. “Anything’s possible.” (Now, enough clichés.)
Sometimes that hope and prayer works out for you in that last second ditch effort, the rally cap time. Sometimes it doesn’t. But does it mean you stop hoping that things will turn your way? Does it mean you can’t believe in the impossible? The problem with reality sometimes is that it makes so many of us cynical. The benefit (if you can call it that) of cynicism is you never have to be as disappointed as you could be because you’ve already set yourself up for the “what if”. But there is a measure of cynicism that still hopes for the better outcome.
Perhaps, instead we need to be a little more like the kids you see at the ballpark with their gloves, hoping and praying for a foul ball or a tossed ball from their favorite ball player on the way back to the dugout. They’re never afraid to wave their hands, glove and all, begging, pleading for a $6 baseball. They’re not afraid to look foolish or greedy or hopeful. It’s why the athletes love signing for kids because they understand that they will cherish the $6 ball because someone took the time to think of them and gift them with a special touch. A ball that may end up in a box in their mom’s attic one day, but for that brief moment, their world was changed for the better. They walked away with their own personal souvenir, and it’s a moment they won’t soon forget. That hope and that memory that one day they pass onto their sons, taking them to the ballpark with a glove, encouraging their sons to get a ball and go for it. Because it’s the hope for good things in life that push us forward, even when the current situation looks bleak or impossible.
Because at the end of the day, if baseball teaches us anything, anything really is possible.