Monday, August 04, 2008

Weekend At Willie's...And Xavier's 

When you're a Yankees Sunday season ticket holder, you get tickets to every Sunday home game, plus two other special games: Opening Day and Old Timer's Day. Since Old Timer's Day is always held on a Saturday and teams never travel in the middle of a weekend, that means there's one weekend a year when you get tickets to games on consecutive days. For many people, the modus operandi is to attend Old Timer's Day, then sell or give away the Sunday tickets. This being Yankee Stadium: The Final Season, I've been determined to go to all 15 games on my slate, and anyway I liked the idea of commuting out to the stadium on consecutive days (something I'd already done once this year, when Opening Day was rained out on March 31 and played the following night).

I was rewarded with a pair of wins. The Yankees have been wildly inconsistent this year, but somehow, of the 11 games I've attended, they've won 10. Saturday's nostalgia fest was almost too inclusive—seeing Mickey Klutts and Wayne Tolleson doubtfully changed anyone's lives (other than, perhaps, their own)—but since this whole drawn-out, season-long pilgrimage of mine is all about reliving those glory days that'll pass you by, I can't imagine not having been there for this.

So yes, Yogi in full uniform on that field for the last time, Reggie and Tino and Winfield and you name 'em, they were there, 'cept of course Donnie Baseball, and Bernie and some others. It was fun but also bittersweet, the widows of Phil Rizzuto, Thurman Munson and a few other dignitaries being rightfully honored, and on the 29th anniversary of Munson's death. Ouch. The big spirit-raising surprise of the day was the presence of Willie Randolph in a Yankee uniform for the first time since the Mets gave him the unceremonious canning of all unceremonious cannings. Too bad Jeff Nelson struck him out during the one-inning exhibition game. Great to catch Keith Olbermann co-announcing the Old Timer's game too, even if a few ignoramuses felt it necessary to boo the only unabashedly liberal host on prime time cable news television. (I mean, seriously, we can't even have one?)

The actual (not Old, not officially, anyway) Yankees won the actual game, too, Mike Mussina pitching a very strong seven innings of two-hit ball as the Bombers defeated the Angels 8-2. The Sunday game wasn't pretty, but it was exciting; after erasing a five-run deficit, the Yanks held a three-run lead until Mark Teixeira hit a grand slam off Edwar Ramirez to make it 9-8 in the 8th. Somehow, the Yanks scratched out six runs in the bottom half of the inning to steal a split of the four-game series with the team sporting the best record in baseball. When all was said and done, new Yank Xavier Nady had six RBIs for the first time in his big-league career. Not bad. I have four games left, start spreading the news.

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