NEW YORK ... why it seemed like such a good idea to take this road trip?
The Yankees swept the Cubs out of New York 6-3 this afternoon; the Cubs still have never won a game in Yankee Stadium.
This photo, I think, says it all:
The bullpen wasn't the only problem today, but you get the idea. Incidentally, I got yelled at by Yankee Stadium bleacher security for standing on a bench while taking this photo. They take security there seriously -- they pat you down, make you take caps off, etc. and I suppose that in New York, there is good reason for this.
Sergio Mitre wasn't very good either. He wasn't awful; his ground ball was working, but unfortunately, unlike last week at Wrigley Field, the grounders today were finding holes -- or in one bizarre case, the Yankees decided to hit and run with Jason Giambi on first base and the ball hit the exact hole that had been vacated by Neifi!
Maybe we need to take that ! off now, everyone. Neifi... was a nasty 0-for-5 today which included a 1-2-3 DP just when it appeared that the Cubs might have the Yankees on the ropes; they had chased Mike Mussina (we couldn't tell, when Corey Patterson struck out yet again in the fifth, whether the Cub fans around us were booing or whether the Yankee fans were yelling "MOOOOSE") and Tanyon Sturtze had hit the first batter he faced, Jason Dubois.
Most of the bullpen pitchers spent the day sitting on top of the wall in front of the pen, probably to get a better view. They needn't have bothered. Juan Lopez' son was in the bullpen helping out today and the Yankee fans were chanting for him to warm up.
Hey, couldn't have hurt -- no one else did the job this weekend, although once Will Ohman and Mike Wuertz came in to clean up Mitre's Mess (sounds like a lunch counter, right?) they did all right, though Wuertz walked a couple of Yankees before striking out the side.
Yes, that's my head kind of fading into the historic Yankee Stadium facade. That's kind of what this whole weekend felt like -- the Cubs fading into the facade. They are now losing games the same way they lost them before the winning streak that began on the day that Mark Prior got hurt.
Or, you might say that they just ran into a hot team in the Yankees, and that is also true. Every time they needed a clutch hit (from A-Rod, from Gary Sheffield -- guess they're not going to trade him now!, from Hideki Matsui), they got one. Meanwhile, the Cubs were leaving what seemed to be baserunners all over the place, but it was really only seven men left -- partly because of the aforementioned 1-2-3 DP, and also because they were hitting Mussina -- but to the deepest part of the park. Both Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit fly balls that would have been home runs at Wrigley Field; the one by Aramis was tracked down on the warning track in dead center field.
With the Cardinals' win over Tampa Bay today -- they too swept their series -- the Cubs sit 9 1/2 games back. But, as Shawn pointed out to me, the Cubs' schedule gets easier over the second half, and there are still all those games left with St. Louis. And Shawn and I agreed that Jim Hendry will make a move to acquire a hitter, and one of the reasons he hasn't done so yet is because there may be someone available on July 19 who's not available today. Hendry has pulled off a major deadline deal each of the last two years, and I have faith in him to do the right thing.
Meanwhile, a roster move will be made on Tuesday to make room for recent acquisition Jerome Williams, who will be recalled to start against the Brewers. There were rumors flying that Joe Borowski will be the move, that he'll be designated for assignment.
This is a shame, in one sense, because we all love Joe and his work ethic and the wonderful 2003 season he had. But he appears to be done, unfortunately.
Despite the results, I had a good time in New York and at Yankee Stadium. There were a few idiots in the crowd, but that can happen anywhere. Most of the Yankee fans -- and I've found this on my previous four trips to the Bronx -- are passionate about their team, know baseball, and appreciate what they have, and were nothing but nice to the many, many Cub fans in attendance (somehow, I doubt they'll see as many Tampa Bay fans in attendance for their next home game tomorrow).
I also had a nice time talking to the Cub fans surrounding me in the LF bleachers Friday and Sunday (there weren't as many in our section on Saturday)... we all must have been online buying bleacher tickets at the same time! I passed out quite a few BCB cards, so if you are here for the first time from one of those cards, welcome! Incidentally, I am still not giving up voting for Neifi for the All-Star team (would you rather have David Eckstein?). Shawn and his friends voted for him -- although, Shawn had to trade votes for Yankees to get his buddies to write in Neifi!
Now, it's imperative to head on to Milwaukee and win three of four. Keep the faith.
(as always, click on photos to view full-size in new browser window; if you are using IE, you may have to click the lower-right corner of the image to expand it to its full size; in Firefox click anywhere on the image. Photo of sign by Al, photo of Shawn and Al by Jeff)