Game 120: NYY vs. TB — Shut out at the Trop

I was wrong the other day. It didn’t take so long to elect a new MLB commissioner. And because it was such a quick resolution, it’s not scheduled to be a blog post until later. I’ve had to shift around the schedule, so you’ll get that next week. But I can tell you that beginning next year the new MLB Commissioner will be Rob Manfred. Manfred has been the MLB Chief Operating Officer and was considered the early favorite and retiring commissioner Selig’s choice. The owners made it a unanimous decision electing Manfred 30-0 on Thursday.

Look, I’m not going to lie to you… it wasn’t a pretty game. And even for the Rays, tonight’s game wasn’t exactly ideal. The Rays, like the Yankees and everyone else around the league, have been hit with the injury bug. But tonight, they sent up the one pitcher on their staff that certainly has the Yankees’ number (especially since they traded away their ace to the Tigers just a few weeks ago). And honestly, while it wasn’t exactly his best performance, the Yankees are on a bit of a slump while the Rays are on a bit of a rise. Just call it timing.

So, while I’d love to tell you all about the offense, the truth is that they couldn’t do much. A handful of hits, even loading the bases in the 8th inning, but the Yankees couldn’t seem to hit in the clutch to score any runs. It was so much more than frustrating, something that echoed through the many Yankee fans at the Trop tonight.

On the opposite side, it was Brandon McCarthy’s turn to start — 110 pitches over 6.1 innings, giving up 7 hits, 4 runs (2 earned), and a walk, striking out 7 Rays batters. Honestly, where McCarthy really got beat up was his 1st inning — 2 singles and a walk with no outs quickly loaded the bases, so that 2 back-to-back ground outs easily scored 2 runs. And the Rays were quickly ahead 2-0.

After that misstep, McCarthy settled down and quickly got to work. But in the 7th inning, a fielding error allowed a runner who would go on to score on an RBI single (thus one of the unearned runs for McCarthy). Two more singles loaded the bases, and took McCarthy out of the game, bringing in Esmil Rogers. Rogers got a ground out, but one of the runners scored. And it was 4-0 Rays.

In the 8th inning, Rogers gave up a solo home run to add another run to the Rays rising total — 5-0 Rays. And there they would stay, and there they would win. The Rays fans in the crowd cheered and celebrated all the way home, while the Yankees fans just shook their heads in frustration and disappointment.

I was asked tonight what my favorite part of the game was (thanks for keeping me focused on the positive, friends). And my answer was simple — seeing the game in a stadium again. (Yes, I went to tonight’s game at the Trop. And it’s good to be back in Florida again, despite the fact that it’s been in the middle of a rather active storm system for the last 24 hours.)

I had a random conversation with my hair stylist recently (apparently, we’re not allowed to call them “hair dressers” or “person who cuts my hair because I pay them money” anymore). We talked about the difference between watching games on TV, listening to them on the radio, and attending a game, and we agreed that the preferred order is attend, radio, then TV. Our reasoning was rather simple — there is something of the participatory in actually attending a game that you get shadows of listening on the radio but completely miss out on by watching it on TV.

I love baseball, but what really drives that point home is being in the middle of other baseball fans, experiencing history as it’s being written just a few feet away before our eyes. I once tried to explain to someone about the smell of baseball. It’s a weird quirky mixture of leather and wood and dirt and sweat and beer and hot dogs and everything else. It just smells like baseball. And you don’t get that by watching TV because they tell you what to think and feel by focusing your attention on the “important parts” of the game. You miss the long-term fan telling “when I was a kid” stories, and the couple on their first date, and the father taking his son to his first game and teaching him how to hold his glove properly to get a foul ball, and the old grandma who knows everything about the history of the team but thinks that “kid” playing out there is a “quite the cutie”. (All people I’ve met while at games just this year.)

There’s only 6 weeks left of the regular season. Get yourself to a game, any game. And when you take that first step out of the concourse and can take in the view of the entire field, stop for just a moment and inhale. See if you can smell baseball too. To me, it smells like home.

Go Yankees!

{Note: there are no media links tonight. All of the video clips are of the Rays’ success, thus doesn’t get the publicity on this blog. Sorry, but there wasn’t much to watch in the Yankees’ favor tonight anyway.}

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