It’s been 21 years since I’ve seen a game at Yankee Stadium. The last time was in 1984 when the Tigers visited the Yanks during their last championship season. It was glove day, and I’m sure if I look around the house long enough, I’ll find the small, plastic-leather glove with the New York Bus Service logo in the pocket that I received that day. I remember that for some reason (traffic or parking) dad and I didn’t get there until the fourth inning, and that the Tigers had the lead at that point. I don’t remember too much else about the game, but checking the archives at Retrosheet, June 27 seems like the most likely date, as the Tigers had a 3-1 lead in the 4th, but lost 5-4, as New York scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 8th and held on for the win. I’m surprised that it was a night game, but school would have been out by then, so it seems possible at least.
A trip east to give a talk, plus a road trip by the Mets, and the Oakland Athletics only visit to New York this season precipitates this unexpected return of the Maleriches to the Bronx. The A’s took the first game of the series 6-3 in 10 innings, as the Yankees $300 million infield crumbled in the extra frame. In game two, the A’s were stifled by Mike Mussina, who tossed a complete game shutout. Joe Blanton started for the Athletics, and after surrendering a few early runs, settled down, providing another positive sign in the young pitchers development. Unfortunately, he was again on the short side of the ledger.
The series finale featured Oakland ace Rich Harden against the downward spiraling Kevin Brown for the Yankees, a seemingly solid matchup for the green and gold. Dad feared that our lives might be in danger sitting in the enemy’s bleacher section, so I let my green #40 jersey and screwball hat do the talking for me.
Let me say one thing about Yankee Stadium before I talk about the game. There was more trash on the field there than any other baseball field I’ve ever been. Maybe it was just the effect of the windy day, but there must have been fifty plastic bags on the field throughout the game. Oh, one more thing. I’m sure not all Yankee fans are so ignorant, but the ones surrounding us in the bleachers were pretty bad. Example quotes, “Durazo? He’s Venezuelan,” or worse, “Mariano [Rivera] is white, idiot!”
While I had high hopes that the A’s would take this game and, hence, the series, but it turned out to be a typical performance. Harden worked in and out of trouble in the first three innings. On offense, Oakland loaded the bases in the 2nd with no outs and agonizingly failed to score. They filled the bases in the 4th also, but again couldn’t capitalize. Further chances never materialized. Harden finally cracked in the bottom half of the 4th, allowing a lead off homer to ARod. New York eventually added 5 more runs, but with the state of the A’s offense, a one-run lead plays as if its 10.
Our team may have been defeated, but the Malerich family went into the devil’s lair, faced his minions, and escaped unscathed. We’ll see how things turn out when Yankees visit the East Bay this weekend (Mussina vs. Blanton).