Game 149: NYY vs. TB — 208 minutes of offensive unproductivity

Apparently, tonight’s game in Tampa was the longest 1-0 game ever played at 208 minutes (or if you’re not so good with the math, that’s 3 hours and 28 minutes). And believe me, it very much felt like a 3 1/2 hour game. But I’ve discovered that games at the Trop often feel this way, among other interesting stadium-related peccadilloes, a sentiment that seemed to be echoed by a pre-game press conference Jeter dodging questions about what he liked best about playing at the Trop. (For all you Rays fans out there: I do have some say in this; I grew up in the Tampa area before they created the franchise and have frequented the area and the stadium in the years since. Still hasn’t changed my mind.)

I wish I could say it was a pitching duel, because that’s what the numbers seem to line up with. But let’s face it: the Yankees and the Rays are the least run-producing teams in the AL, so a no-run game through the 9th inning doesn’t really come as much of a surprise. Chris Capuano started for the Yankees and went 101 pitches over 6 innings, allowing just 2 hits, striking out 4 Rays batters, but giving up 4 walks. Don’t get me wrong on my previous statements, Capuano did an excellent job tonight, and kept the Rays from doing anything at all, which they can do from time to time.

On the other side of things, the Yankees certainly made the Rays’ starter work hard, taking him 113 pitches into the 7th inning, but they couldn’t cobble a run of their 6 hits and a walk off him.

Adam Warren took the 7th and 8th, keeping the Rays scoreless and hitless over his tenure. It would be Shawn Kelley to struggle his way through the 9th inning. Two singles and two outs, the Yankees were looking for one out to get out of the inning, but a walk loaded bases and set the 13,000-ish Tampa (though really, there were a lot of Yankee fans in that mix) on edge and cheering. A single easily scored that 1 walk-off run the Rays needed for victory tonight.

And that was the ball game. 1-0 Rays in a bottom of the 9th, 2-out, bases loaded situation.

Masahiro Tanaka threw a simulated game in Tampa today against the Instructional League at Steinbrenner Field. He topped out about 92 mph (not surprising), and some comments were made about how his last attempt at a sim game was sharper. But this all depends on how he feels tomorrow and the next couple of days. Should he feel back to himself, Tanaka could be pitching in the Bronx this weekend. Basically, the young pitcher will be under the microscope for a while, as he continues to the long path to full recovery and health until they trust his arm not to give out on him again.

This story feels awfully familiar, and it’s getting old. Can everyone just get and stay healthy? And win some ball games already?

Go Yankees!

Game 136: BOS vs. NYY — Welcome to September baseball, not so Greene anymore

Well, it’s September baseball. Consider this the long stretch into the postseason. And yesterday, the Yankees had the day off, which I guess was nice for those who wanted to celebrate Labor Day properly. But it also means that the 25-man roster can increase to the 40-man for the playoff race. That being said, the Yankees recalled catcher John Ryan Murphy and pitchers Preston Claiborne, Bryan Mitchell, and Chase Whitley (from AAA Scranton); selected pitcher Rich Hill and outfielder Chris Young (also from AAA); and signed outfielder Antoan Richardson and pitcher Chaz Roe to ML contracts and the active roster (again from AAA). And in less pleasant news, AA Trenton outfielder Slade Heathcott was recalled and moved to the 60-day DL due to right knee surgery; moved Masahiro Tanaka to the 60-day DL (more in a moment); released pitcher Matt Daley; and designated Zoilo Almonte for assignment.

Okay, so Tanaka’s soreness was diagnosed as just that — soreness. That means, he will return to his throwing rehab this week, attempting to work back into the regular season as soon as humanly possible. It feels odd that I must include the term “human”, but I think sometimes some people become so used to the idea of near immortality of the athletes (or even seeing them as simply commodities) that one might forget they are also human, with weaknesses and limitations. We continue to wish Tanaka a speedy recovery, but mostly we want good, whole health.

And then there was a game with the visiting Boston Red Sox. Shane Greene took the start tonight, and while Greene has been pretty consistent this year in his fill-in status, tonight certainly wasn’t consistent with the Greene I think we’ve been spoiled to watch. In just 2.2 innings, Greene threw 67 pitches, gave up 6 hits, 6 runs, and 3 walks, striking out just 3 Boston batters. To say it was a terrible outing for Greene might be an understatement, and I think everyone wishes this was an April game and not a September one.

In the 1st inning, a single and a walk put runners on base to score on a double and a sacrifice fly. (2-0 Boston) In the 3rd, runners again on base with a single and a walk score when a batter smacked a 3-run home run into the right field seats, only to be followed up 2 batters (and 1 out) later by another home run (a solo shot). (6-0 Boston)

Now, the Yankees answered back in the bottom of the 3rd as Martin Prado hit his own solo home run into the left field seats, but with Esmil Rogers on the mound now (in relief of Greene to get out of the 3rd and pitching into the 4th), Rogers gave up his own solo home run, effectively erasing the Yankees’ attempt. (7-1 Boston). Rogers came back for 1 out in the 5th before handing the ball over to Hill to end that inning.

The bottom of the 5th was, by far, the most productive offensive inning for the Yankees, albeit awfully strange. Beltran and McCann each singled. Then Prado hit a ball that sailed over the left fielder’s head, which should have been a double, but Beltran and McCann were waiting to see if the player could catch it. He didn’t, so Prado headed for 2nd thinking it was a double, but McCann was held up there as Beltran was still on 3rd. Desperately trying to find his way back to 1st as it was deemed a single, Prado ended up getting tagged out. Some people blamed Beltran for not running, some people blamed Prado for running too much, but really it was just a huge miscommunication for everyone. Anyway, Headley walked to load the bases, and then Francisco Cervelli’s walk finally scored Beltran.

Another out brought up Derek Jeter to the plate. Jeter hit a soft grounder to the shortstop who charged the ball and fired it to 1st where the 1st base umpire called Jeter out. This brought Girardi out of the dugout for a challenge. Upon review (and a very boisterous reception from the heated crowd in the steamy Bronx tonight upon seeing the replay on the big screen), it was over turned — Jeter safe at 1st, bases still loaded, but McCann scored. (7-3 Boston) The next batter was Brett Gardner, who struck out on a rather outside pitch; a bit frustrated, Gardner discarded his helmet and bat a little to forcefully, according to the home plate umpire who immediately ejected him. Well, with nothing to lose, Gardner went off on his about his “floating strike zone”.

Like I said, that 5th inning was something else…

Well, this whole game was really something else…

Warren came on to pitch the 6th and 7th for the Yankees, and Huff got his chance in the 8th. Both did an excellent job keeping Boston from adding to this lead that was easily handed to them by sloppy pitching and missed offensive opportunities and whatever happened in the bottom of the 5th to the Yankees.

Chaz Roe made his Yankee debut in the 9th, and I’m guessing it wasn’t quite the impression he had in mind. He gave up a lead-off triple that scored on a sacrifice fly and a walk that scored on a single. The Yankees tried to earn back one of those runs in the bottom of the 9th with Brian McCann’s lead-off solo home run. But it wasn’t enough.

And Prado was pulled from the game in the 9th inning (replaced by Chris Young, the former Met making his pinstriped debut) with hamstring soreness. The initial diagnosis was hamstring tightness in his left leg, but they will have an official diagnosis after he sees the team doctor and an MRI. Fingers crossed for just a couple of days warming the bench and not something more serious (though, this year, nothing surprises me anymore on the injury front).

Like I said, this game was something else… there are literally no words to describe it. Well, there are words, but I’m trying to maintain a positive, clean blog here. And on that note, what would the upside of tonight’s game? They still have 2 more games to win against Boston this week, and there are two rookie pitchers scheduled for the next two days to face the Yankees. Here’s to hoping the stereotypes are true about rookie (and recent call-up) pitchers facing veteran batters…

Go Yankees!

Game 133: NYY vs. TOR — 7th inning sloppiness somehow equals a win

The Yankees are north of the border for the last time this season, visiting Rogers Centre and its delightful turf-covered field, and silencing those zealous Toronto fans with a win tonight. Jeter mentioned in a pre-game interview that the first thing that comes to his mind is Opening Day 2003 when he dislocated his shoulder sliding into 3rd.

Chris Capuano got the start tonight and struggled some but really came out on top by the end of the night. Over 6.1 innings, Capuano threw 106 pitches, allowed 8 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), and a walk, and struck out 4 Toronto batters. The Blue Jays struck first offensively with a solo home run in the 4th, and actually they did a pretty good job of defending that 1-0 lead right up until the 7th inning.

And it was like both teams decided to play a brand new game in the 7th inning. And while I’m glad the Yankees certainly came out on top, it was rather hard to watch what ended up being the result of super sloppy pitching and fielding in the entire inning. Because they’re in Toronto, the Yankees got first crack at the offense in the 7th inning. McCann led off with a double, Beltran walked, and then they both scored on Brett Gardner’s double to start things off for the Yankees (Gardner ended up at 3rd on a throwing error). Ichiro singled, and with runners were on the corners, the Blue Jays opted to go to their bullpen to get a quick strike out (and the first out of the inning so far). But another throwing error allowed Gardner to score and Ichiro to move to 2nd. But then Jacoby Ellsbury smacked a big 2-run home run into right field. And suddenly it’s 5-1 Yankees at the 7th inning stretch.

But then the Blue Jays return the favor. With 1 out and Capuano on his last legs, a walked batter scored on a double. Then a throwing error allowed runners on the corners, and that’s when Warren was called on to keep things under control. A sacrifice fly allowed another Toronto run and a throwing error landed the runner at 2nd. So if you’re any good at math (or you’ve stopped counting a long time ago), by the end of the 7th inning, the score was 5-3 and there were 4 total throwing errors (2 by each team). Damage done.

Warren came back in the 8th for 2 outs before the Yankees decided to call on the new guy. Before the game, the Yankees picked up Indians’ reliever Josh Outman, put him on the 25-man roster, and designated Rich Hill for assignment. So, Outman got his opportunity to pitch tonight, but promptly gave up a single after an 8-pitch at-bat. So it was David Robertson’s turn for a 4-out save, which he did in 12 pitches.

An extra insurance run was added to the Yankees’ lead by Chase Headley in the top of the 9th with Headley smacking a solo homer into right center field seats. It would be 6-3 Yankees. And all is right with the world.

Well, not everything… Masahiro Tanaka threw a simulated game earlier this week and was resting the arm for a few days to see how it felt. Apparently, some lingering forearm soreness (emphasizing it’s not the previously injured elbow) shut Tanaka down from further sim games, sending him back to the specialists and Yankees’ doctors in New York. It can be seen as a mixed bag, most people see that as a “doom and gloom sign”. But that seems like a giant leap to me. Honestly, the Yankees are back in the City in just 2 days anyway, and Tanaka is used to the medical staff and facilities at the stadium, so I guess I don’t see this as a bad sign but rather as a logical one. I think I’d ask for the same thing if I was in his place. And I’m also wary of jumping to negative conclusions so quickly.

The same goes for a now-injured Ellsbury who injured his ankle sliding into home during tonight’s game. It was a messy challenged play that I won’t go into right now. I don’t agree with the final call at all (and I won’t comment on it publicly other than that because I have an exacting no negativity policy on this blog). But what burns the most is that Ellsbury won’t play tomorrow because of the injury. No broken bones, but it seems he slid into home catching the catcher’s protective gear on his left ankle. I suspect a nasty bruise (or contusion for you medically inclined readers) will need lots of ice and rest for a day or so. Fortunately, the Yankees are currently sitting on a plethora of outfielders, though none that can hit and steal quite as well as the center fielder.

Look, a win tonight is a very good thing, despite the sloppiness or whatever was going on under the opened dome under the watchful eye of the CN Tower. Here’s to more favor for the Yankees when the craziness of baseball happens, because it seems to be happening with increasing frequency lately. And as long as the Yankees are on the better side of that coin, I’m okay with a little crazy. I can’t imagine anyone on the Yankees arguing with that logic either.

Go Yankees!

Game 119: NYY vs. BAL — 8th inning fade out

Michael Pineda is back and in better than expected form for someone who hasn’t pitched in an MLB game since April. Easing him back into the rotation, Pineda threw 67 pitches over his strong 5 innings against the Orioles, allowing just 2 hits and 1 run, and striking out 4 batters. For 4 innings, Pineda was working a no-hitter, shutting down the Orioles in order with such precision. The 5th inning dented his attempt when he allowed a lead-off double, a single, and then an RBI sacrifice fly.

In the mean time, the Yankees gave him a small window of a lead in the 3rd inning. Drew led off that inning with a double, and then Francisco Cervelli planted a long 2-run home run into left-center field (just his 2nd home run of the season). After the 5th inning, the Yankees clung to their 2-1 lead for quite a while, with a much-needed win in sight.

Dellin Betances pitched the 6th and 7th innings, keeping that possibility of a win for the returning Pineda intact. But then the 8th inning happened. Betances came back for the 8th, but gave up a solo home run to tie up the game. So they called on Shawn Kelley to finish the inning. It’s unfortunate that it wasn’t until more damage was done that he finally got that the inning was over. Kelley gave up a single and a walk before hanging a perfect slider right over the plate so that the Orioles best hitter could slam a 3-run home run and blow the Yankees’ hopes for a win out of the water.

The Yankees tried to make a come back in the 9th. Teixeira worked a walk, and Beltran doubled, so Chase Headley’s groundout scored Teixeira. But one out later, the score was firmly 5-3 Orioles. Another Yankee loss in the books, and the team heads down to Florida for the weekend.

A couple of interesting plays made tonight — Martin Prado jumped at the perfect time to snag a ball right at the right field wall in the 4th inning, and the Girardi ejection in the 7th inning. The Prado jump grab is really a beautiful play, especially for someone who hasn’t spent much time in right field and is still getting used to that position. The ejection was different, as I’m not sure I agree with it. I can understand the call in theory — if the runner did step out of the base path and the throw was technically obstructed. But I don’t really agree that’s what happened and perhaps an explanation or a review (can those calls even be reviewed?) might have been a better option rather just tossing an arguing manager. I mean, it’s not 2013 anymore. Isn’t that why we asked for and got replay this year? I know I’m not the only one confused here on the replay and what is an arguable call anymore. Again, I guess it’s the big guinea pig season for all that now.

In roster news (because what post this season isn’t complete without that kind of news?)…

Brian McCann will most likely come off the DL this Saturday; I imagine that means Romine will head back to Scranton in his place.

Masahiro Tanaka’s rehab is progressing to throwing on flat ground, a big step towards his targeted September return.

After sending Bryan Mitchell back to AAA Scranton and pulling up Chris Leroux to fill the 25-man roster on Monday, to make room for the returning Pineda today, the Yankees designated Leroux for assignment.

An off-day and travel day for the team tomorrow, but at MLB, things are heating up. The race to elect the new commissioner to replace retiring Bud Selig is on, and the owners vote until they can reach a consensus (at least 23 of the 30 votes for approval). It’s quite a heated race so far, much like most political elections. It will be something to watch how this unfolds.

Go Yankees!

Game 111: DET vs. NYY — Brett Gardner, Player of the Week & the win

The worst part about taking an early lead is having to defend it for the rest of the game, especially against a very good opponent known not only for their good offense but also for their outstanding pitching. Honestly, it’s the pitching that kept the game so low-scoring, but on both sides of the field.

The Yankees took their early lead in the 3rd inning, loading up the bases with 3 quick singles by Ichiro, Gardner, and Jeter. Jacoby Ellsbury’s sacrifice fly (a really dynamic catch by the Detroit center fielder, by the way) scored Ichiro, and Gardner scored when Brian McCann singled. And the Yankees were up 2-0 over the visiting Tigers.

In the mean time, the Yankees were forced to defend that lead behind the outstanding pitching of Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy threw 116 pitches over 5.2 innings, giving up just 5 hits, 1 run (unearned), and 2 walks, and struck out 8 Tigers’ batters. That run came in the 5th inning when a batter reached on a throwing error, stole 2nd, and then scored on a single. It would be the only run the Tigers would score all night.

Thornton closed out the 6th. Warren and Kelley each took an inning so that Robertson could earn his 30th save and give the Yankees a nice, close 2-1 win tonight, and start off the series against the Tigers strong.

Actually, there were times that both teams were close to adding to their totals, but both pitching staffs were able to pitch into and out of many jams (like McCarthy in this clip). It certainly says a lot with the quality both teams seemed to put up tonight.

Injury updates

Masahiro Tanaka was approved for throwing after an MRI revealed partial tear in his throwing arm almost a month ago. After weeks of platelet-enriched injections to stimulate healing, he seems to be on the road to recovery and must be relieved not to be on the surgical track, like so many others with a similar injury. He played toss today, working his way back to a probable September return.

Mark Teixeira was pulled from the line-up tonight due to feeling “light-headed”. That led to a last-minute shift on the roster and the field, but it seemed to all work out well for the Yankees.

And David Phelps is officially on the 15-day DL because of his elbow problems that seemed to be irritated during and affected his game last night in Boston. That starting rotation spot is now open, but there is a few more days before what would have been his scheduled start, and the Yankees haven’t decided who gets that chance just yet.

There is talk of Michael Pineda returning to fill Phelps’ now vacant spot, but he is still technically playing rehab games, albeit rather well, but they usually prefer more starts in rehab games before returning previously injured players back to the big leagues.

And in fantastic news…

Brett Gardner was named AL Player of the Week. Last week, Gardner hit .478, 5 home runs, collected 29 total bases in just 6 games. Honestly, my first reaction to this news was not surprised because Brett Gardner has been playing like Brett Gardner, with excellence and character.

The only question I had is why he still hasn’t been chosen for an All-Star Game. Gardner is one of those guys who is so consistent in his game, but is often overshadowed by some of the more popular players or flashier outfielders on some of the other teams. Look, I know some of those guys are really great players, but Gardner continues to prove his value as both an outfielder and as a Yankee. I’d rather have quiet, understated, consistent excellence that a flashy, diva-like showman any day. Congrats!

Go Yankees!

Game 92: NYY vs. BAL — 10th inning walk-off loss

Tonight’s game began the weekend series against Baltimore, the last 3 games before the All-Star Break. Hiroki Kuroda started tonight’s game, throwing 103 pitches over his 7 innings. While he was a little sloppy at times (3 wild pitches and 2 batters hit-by-pitch), the rest of his game was pretty good, allowing just 3 hits and 2 runs, striking out 3 batters. Actually, the Orioles couldn’t poke through Kuroda’s pitching until the 4th inning. A hit-by-pitch and single put runners on the corners, the first one scored on a wild pitch and the second on a sacrifice fly.

Prior to the Orioles’ offensive attempt, the Yankees racked up their own 2 runs. In the 2nd, Brian Roberts hit a 2-out solo home run, and Kelly Johnson hit his solo home run in the 3rd. This made the game all knotted up and tied 2-2 for quite some time.

Dellin Betances came on to relieve Kuroda in the 8th and 9th, spreading 23 pitches and 3 strikeouts over his 2 hitless innings. So when the game went into the bottom of the 10th, the Yankees turned to Adam Warren. Warren allowed a lead-off double that scored on a single just two batter later — a walk-off single to put the Orioles over the Yankees 3-2.

In the wake of the injury to Masahiro Tanaka, the baseball world is still reeling from the immediate loss and spinning around so many “potential outcomes”. (I say “baseball world” because the sports world in general seems rather preoccupied with another sport’s superstar’s recent signing to a former team.) The predicted rehab time for Tanaka is about 6 weeks, which puts him back in the rotation somewhere at the beginning of September should rehab go well (and I know everyone is certainly praying for that outcome). But like the class act that he is, Tanaka himself released a statement apologizing for his injury and promising to do what needs to be done to return whole and healthy. We continue to pray for a speedy, healthy recovery.

And some roster moves were made today. The Yankees acquired pitcher Jeff Francis and cash considerations from the Athletics. Francis had been designated for assignment and has a history of being a starter with previous teams, though he was used by the A’s as a reliever. No word on how they plan on adding him to the pitching staff. In addition to Francis, the Yankees designated Jim Miller for assignment and recalled Matt Daley from AAA Scranton.

One of the regular players yesterday commented that this never-ending injury plague seems to be focused on a particular part of their clubhouse, noting that last year it was the position players and this year it seems to be the pitchers. How about it’s no one after the All-Star Break?

Go Yankees!

Game 91: NYY vs. CLE — Splitting the series, bad news, all on a better day

Okay, let me get this out of the way up front because basically from the 6th inning on, it’s all anyone could talk about. Masahiro Tanaka was in Seattle today to be seen by the team doctor who is currently there with other fellow medical staff for a conference. Yankees team doctor Dr. Ahmad and two other colleagues (a noted orthopedist and a fellow team doctor) confirmed to Cashman who confirmed with the world that Tanaka’s elbow pain was due to a very small partial tear of his UCL (the ulnar collateral ligament, which runs through the elbow as part of the joint to connect the lower and upper arm bones).

The UCL may sound familiar because it is the ligament they replace and repair in the infamous Tommy John surgery. However, the doctors stressed that because of the size of the tear the first course of action is platelet-rich plasma injections beginning on Monday to help speed up a natural ligament repair. A small tear usually will heal on its own because the body is kind of amazing at doing stuff like that. Should it not heal, then surgery might be back on the table. But that is really looking like a last resort at this point, which is good news.

And Carlos Beltran was placed on the 7-day DL with a concussion from his injury (broken nose from a batting practice ball) yesterday. In his place, the Yankees recalled Yangervis Solarte, who has been absolutely thriving in AAA. (I told you he’d be back.) Beltran will probably be back after the All-Star Break; Tanaka’s return is dependent on how his body reacts to the rehab; and Solarte’s fate is to be decided.

What was decided was that the Indians apparently wanted to make a statement in their final game of this 4-game series in Cleveland. And prior to the game, the Indians gifted Derek Jeter with their contribution to his “I’m not having a farewell tour”. They gave him a custom Gibson guitar (as Cleveland is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) and a picture of him at bat crafted entirely of Legos, designed and made by the Indians’ visiting clubhouse assistant manager. Cleveland will always hold a special place for Jeter as it was where he had his first MLB Opening Day in 1996, and it’s a place he admittedly enjoys playing in.

Okay, so the Yankees looked like they were doing pretty good for a while in tonight’s game. While David Phelps cruised along, keeping the Indians scoreless for 6 innings, the Yankees racked up some offensive force. In the 4th, Cervelli on base with a single, Zelous Wheeler’s big home run scored 2 runs. And in the 5th, Cervelli on base once again with a hit by pitch, advanced to 2nd on Wheeler’s single, and scored on Solarte’s single. 3-0 Yankees going into the 7th inning.

Phelps threw 103 pitches over his 6 full innings and a couple batters in the 7th. He allowed 7 hits, 2 runs, and 3 walks, striking out 5 batters. It was those 2 runners in the 7th that would end up being a problem, and Phelps was responsible for them because he allowed those back-to-back singles. Matt Thornton came on and loaded the bases with a single, and then a triple cleared the bases and tied up the game, effectively blowing Phelps’ win. A sacrifice fly scored that runner from 3rd and put the Indians on top 4-3. And the Yankees called on reliever Jim Miller to get out of the inning.

The Indians came back in the 8th to add to their lead because a single run lead apparently wasn’t going to be enough and giving a messy 8th inning seemed like the right thing to do tonight. (I should note at this point, most of the news and chatter had shifted off the game on the field and onto the worst case scenario with Tanaka.) Miller, still on the mound, was kind of on the receiving end of what would be a terrible inning for the Yankees. He got a quick strike out, but then gave up a double. The next batter hits what is initially was called a double, but on a challenge was overturned and ruled a 2-run home run. A single, an out, a stolen base, an RBI single, and a 2-run home run suddenly put the Indians up and over 9-3.

And they hold on in the top of the 9th to win tonight’s game 9-3, splitting the series with the Yankees 2-2.

Honestly, my mom wanted the Indians to win tonight because it’s her birthday. And she only thinks it’s fair that the Indians win on her birthday because they are the team she grew up rooting for. She’s only a recent convert to being a Yankee fan, but when they play each other she’s back to being a Tribe fan. She doesn’t have as much luck with the Tribe winning on her birthday, (since 2000) only claiming wins in 2003, 2008, and tonight. Also, going back to 2000, they haven’t played 6 years due to the All-Star Break falling in the middle of July (2000, 2002, 2006; the game actually fell on July 10, 2001, 2007, and 2012).

But I guess a win for her birthday by the team she’s been waiting to win the World Series since before she was born (they’ve only won twice 1920 and 1948), watching them get so close (AL Pennants in 1995 and 1997) and yet falling short (to the Braves in 1995 and the Marlins in 1997). My grandfather used to send my mom newspaper clippings of their team’s weekly progress while she was away at college and into adulthood. When they both got email a few years before he passed away, he would email her all Indians’ news he could find, though I’m sure she could find it herself by then. Baseball was always something special in our family, a connection that isn’t likely to sever any time soon. And every time I talk about the Indians with my mom or my uncle (who’s still a big Tribe fan) or some other family member from that area, it reminds me of that connection. I don’t like it when the Yankees lose, but I don’t mind it when the Indians win. Somehow, I think my grandfather would be celebrating the win of his team, a step closer to that elusive championship — 66 years and counting.

A very happy birthday to my mom, who goes to most games with me because we share the same love for the game, its intricacies, its quirks, its legends, its finest hours, its greatest miscues, and its lasting impact. Of course, it usually ends up being a conversation of me wanting to go to a game and her not wanting to miss an opportunity for an afternoon or evening at a ball park (any ball park). I don’t mind. It’s nice to share baseball with someone who not only gets baseball but loves baseball. And it helps that she’s now a Yankees fan. At least when they’re not playing the Indians, that is. (Mom, this double play made me laugh and think of so many random plays we seem to witness at our games.)

Go Yankees!