God, I HATE American League baseball.
Tonight's run-of-the-mill, 7-2 Blue Jays win over the Yankees, with not a tremendous number of walks (eight of them, compared to fourteen in that Cubs/Marlins game earlier this week), ran three hours and seven minutes, for no particular reason.
Not that it wasn't entertaining. Jaret Wright, who is going to start, darnitall, because George Steinbrenner has invested umpteen-million dollars in him and he's going to get his money's worth, walked Russ Adams to lead off the game, and then Frank Catalanotto homered, and that was pretty much it -- even though Wright did settle down after that, I thought he was darn close to being yanked right then and there, especially after he walked Vernon Wells right after Catalanotto's HR.
Before the game the Yankees held a moment of silence for their former pitcher Steve Howe, who was killed when his truck rolled over in California today. This was announced with great solemnity by the Yankees' "Voice of God" PA announcer Bob Sheppard, whose age was recently confirmed to be 95.
Hey, more power to him. To be able to do a job like this, that he loves, and well, at that age? Terrific.
It was a gorgeous day in New York today, but I knew it would be fairly chilly in the Bronx tonight, and the tickets that my friend Manny from ABC News got for me and his friend Phil were in the upper deck, left field -- just about on the same sightlines that I have at Wrigley Field, only about 200 feet higher. The wind was blowing out to left field, and for the early innings it was a bit nippy. The wind died down later on and since I had dressed for the conditions -- anyone who's spent April in Wrigley Field will do this -- it wasn't uncomfortable.
The Yankees just couldn't get anything going, despite having ten hits and four walks. The Jays completed three double plays, including a nifty one to end the third inning, a strike-em-out-throw-em-out DP, catching Johnny Damon stealing second.
Meanwhile, Manny spent a couple of innings hieing himself and his buddy down to the food stands to acquire some food and drink; he was the consummate host, treating me not only to the food (a quite-nice Italian sausage with onions, which I proceeded to drop on my scorecard, creating -- no, sorry, not an onion inning, but a badge of honor), but some inside scoop on some ABC News folks, NONE of which I can repeat here.
Bernie Williams, who the Yankee fans continue to have an inexplicable fondness for despite the fact that he really can't hit any more, did hit his first home run of the year, making the game close at 5-2 in the sixth after Scott Schoeneweis had made Wright's pitching line look worse by allowing Shea Hillenbrand's first (of two) HR with some Wright-allowed baserunners on base in the top of that frame. Wiliams' last really good year was 2002, though he was decent in 2004; last year he was mediocre and this year he's 12-for-53 (.226)... although, maybe he should pay ME to come to Yankee games; he was 6-for-12 in the series against the Cubs last June. The fans love him, and according to Manny he's going to wind up in the Yankee front office when he's done playing -- which if the Yankees know what's good for them, ought to be soon.
I also asked Manny how he felt about the new Yankee Stadium, coming soon. He kind of sighed, then said he understands the need for more money (read: skyboxes, something the current park doesn't have many of), and I can see that, given the fact that the Yankee payroll is far above any other team and they lost $50 million last year, mostly from revenue-sharing dollars. They sure are trying to make up for it with concession sales -- I saw a beer vendor coming by with a 24-ounce beer for $9.75; other beers were $7 or $8.
Onward the game went; Manny and Phil decided they'd had enough in the 7th and left, Phil leaving a Yankee blanket he'd bought to a woman sitting next to him who, we learned, was celebrating her birthday.
There wasn't much else, except for the sight of ex-Cub Tanyon Sturtze putting the game out of reach in the 9th, allowing Hillenbrand's second HR of the game (I can see it now, the calls all of you are going to make to get the Jays to deal Hillenbrand to the Cubs), and another run on a couple of hits and a sacrifice fly. By then most of the 47,204 had left -- and I must say, egress from Yankee Stadium to the subway is quick and easy, and I made it back to my Midtown hotel in less than 30 minutes from the last out.
Sight seen on the subway: a sign in Spanish advertising tickets for the Mets, and pointing people to this Spanish-language Mets website, "losmets.com", for information. This sign was in a not-very-Hispanic part of Manhattan, so the Mets are apparently being very aggressive marketing toward the Hispanic community.
I love baseball and I've never had a bad time at Yankee Stadium. The fans there are knowledgeable -- I love comparing notes with Manny, a great Yankee fan -- and passionate about their team. They were at first bemused and then a bit irritated at a large group of Blue Jays fans seated just above us, who cheered their own team wildly at anything they did well. Brave folks, and maybe not so smart to do that in New York. I think they all got out alive.
And hey, the Yankees lost, and so did the Astros tonight, so all is well with the world.
And, just so that this isn't without a Cub link, the Cubs beat the Brewers 6-2, making Greg Maddux the majors' first five-game winner -- and it's the first time he has EVER been 5-0.
It just goes to show you that when you think you know everything about this game, something comes along to prove that you don't.
Also, they handed out All-Star ballots tonight at Yankee Stadium, and I presume elsewhere. No, I'm not going to go on a "Vote Neifi" campaign again this year -- unless it's to vote him to the No-Star Team -- but I will point out that Michael Barrett is the best-hitting catcher in the National League, and deserves to go to the All-Star Game. Vote for Michael!