Way to go, people. Thanks for showing the international television audience How To Ruin A Festive Night Of Baseball And Disgrace The Entire City In One Easy Lesson.
Just when I was thinking that a younger element of the crowd was turning this whole Red Sox experience into a second 1967, one (more) bad call against the Red Sox in the ninth inning sent people into a bottle-tossing mode, forcing both the umpiring crews and the Yankees to get their respective teams off the field before someone got hurt.
It was great in the first inning when the fans chanted ``Nomar’s Better!’’ when New York’s classy Derek Jeter came to bat. It was great when the crowd chanted ``Just Say No!’’ at Darryl Strawberry when he first came to the plate. And it was also great when they chanted a haunting ``An-dy, An-dy!’’ at Yankees starter Andy Pettitte when he got in jams.
But what kind of pathetic mindset would compel people to throw bottles and other assorted missiles onto the field after manager Jimy Williams got ejected in the ninth inning for protesting first-base umpire Dale Scott’s decision that Nomar Garciaparra was out on a grounder to third? An alcohol-induced one, perhaps, but what else is new?
These slugs should be informed that the Red Sox got beat, period, and that when you lose by seven runs, and when you absolutely kill yourself with four errors, and when the other guys’ starting pitcher comes up with a needed big performance, the umpires have nothing to do with it. But I’m sure they know that. This is 1999. Too many people really think they’re part of the show.
As for the game, Williams laid it out the night before.
``The score tomorrow when we start is nothing to nothing,’’ he said.
Clean slate. New day. New game. New need to do things right. The 13-1 game on Saturday was good for the soul, and it was good for Pedro Martinez’s dazzling resume, but in the big picture it only meant one thing: The Red Sox were not dead in a seven-game series. Other than that, it meant nada.
The truth is the same as it was before Jose Offerman hit that second Roger Clemens pitch into the right-field corner for that leadoff triple on Saturday afternoon. It’s the same as it was last Wednesday, when Bernie Williams hit the game-winning home run off used-up Rod Beck. It’s the same as it was on Thursday, when the Red Sox left 13 men on base in a one-run game. It’s the same as it was at any given moment during Saturday’s entertaining destruction of the Yankees.
And the truth is that the Yankees have all the bases covered, while the Red Sox have some of the bases covered. How can anyone be surprised that the better team is winning? When Pedro is pitching, the Red Sox are the best team in the universe. But when he isn’t . . .
You don’t have to hang around too long to start noticing the differences between the teams on days when Pedro isn’t pitching. New York’s only real worry is Chuck Knoblauch, who continues to scare everyone in the Metropolitan Area with his erratic arm. Oh, sure, they’re kind of making do with a relay team in left, and they really don’t have a No. 1 catcher, but they have won a couple of world championships with the catching they have, and they may very well win another. Anyway, none of the Yankee pitchers have any complaints with Joe Girardi, and they’re the ones who matter.
This was a tough one for Red Sox fans to watch. You had Nomar making one of those heroic throws on the move in the fourth inning and tossing it away, leading directly to a run. You had Bret Saberhagen, who actually pitched very well, dropping what should have been an inning-ending throw from Mike Stanley, leading to another unearned run. You had Jose Offerman starting what should have been an inning-ending double play when it was still a one-run game in the ninth and making a low throw to Garciaparra at second. You’d like to think Nomar could have made the difficult catch, but the planets were not in the proper alignment for him all night, and he couldn’t. What appeared to be a very big run scored from second.
Before the inning was over, that run didn’t look so big. That’s because Jimy Williams tempted the fates one more time by inserting the sadly useless Beck into the game to face pinch hitter Ricky Ledee with the bases loaded and one out. Ledee took out his protractor and plotted the same trajectory Bernie Williams had used on Wednesday, blasting an 0-1 pitch over the dead-center-field fence for a grand slam.
This series is 3-1 in New York’s favor for obvious reasons. Take away Saturday’s Fenway celebration, and New York has both played better overall baseball and benefited from all the forces of luck imaginable, starting with baseballs not being home runs by a matter of inches to plain-and-simple blown calls (plural) in their favor. I mean, we had not one, but two umpires admitting mistakes on plays. This is, of course, unprecedented.
But nothing, nothing, nothing justifies what happened here last night. What those sorry people did was ruin everything. ``In my opinion, what happened here tonight was sad,’’ said Yankees manager Joe Torre. ``The Boston Red Sox have busted their ass all year and have given the city something to be proud of, and what happened was inexcusable. It surprises me. I really hadn’t been exposed to Boston until the last four years, and everywhere I’ve been people have been great. I know this wasn’t indicative of the city of Boston, Massachusetts, but it definitely was a lack of class.’’
There’s been a lot of good baseball in this series, and you’d think you’d like to see more. But if this is the way people are going to be, then they should move tonight’s game to New York. It’s a great game, but it’s just a game.
Yankees, the rest of us are sorry. We really are.