October 23, 2003

Diary of a Madman (World Series, Game Five)

Well, so much for my "Yankees in six" prediction, huh?

Since my running diary of Game Four was so popular (at least according to all the emails I got yesterday), I figured I might as well do the same thing for Game Five.


The big story for tonight's game is that Joe Torre has benched Alfonso Soriano and replaced him at second base with Enrique Wilson. In addition to that, Jason Giambi is out of the lineup with a sore leg, and he will be replaced by Nick Johnson at first base. Considering the way Giambi has hit this post-season (.232/.348/.446 with 15 strikeouts in 56 at bats), and the fact that Johnson is a better defender at first, this isn't much of a drop-off. Of course, Nick the Stick isn't exactly lighting things up either (.226/.317/.340).

On the other hand, any time you take someone out of the lineup and replace him with Enrique Wilson, you are making a big downgrade. And that applies to Alfonso Soriano, even though he has struggled tremendously in the playoffs, and even though I have talked about his struggles several times in the last couple weeks, including in yesterday's Game Four diary.

In fact, here's exactly what I said about Soriano during Game Four: "There are no words to describe how lost he is at the plate right now."

Still, Enrique Wilson is Enrique Wilson. He is a career .253/.296/.358 hitter and has on-base percentages of .238, .239 and .276 over the last three years. I don't care if Alfonso Soriano is zero for his last 50, I'd have him in the lineup over Wilson.

FOX pre-game co-host Kevin Kennedy just informed me that, "Soriano is out of the lineup because he has struck out 40% of the time in the playoffs." Okay, I just looked it up. Soriano has 25 strikeouts in 67 at bats (37.3%), which is really awful. The Fons whiffed a ton in the regular-season (130 times in 156 games), but still managed to strikeout in just 19.1% of his at bats. I'm not against benching Soriano, because he has certainly looked completely lost at the plate of late, but he'd have to be Jimmy Hoffa-lost for me to bench him in favor of Enrique Wilson.

Last night we got the National Anthem by Nick Lachey (aka Mr. Jessica Simpson). Tonight? None other than "Ivan Rodriguez's favorite recording artist," the incredible, incomparable...Yanni.

I have to say, I don't think I have ever actually heard any of Yanni's music before. I just know what he looks like and that he does all instrumental stuff. Oh, and also the fact that he is always good for being the butt of a joke.

Okay, he just played a keyboard-version of the Star Spangled Banner. I'm not saying it wasn't good, but it was done on a keyboard. With no singing. By Yanni.

Honestly, Yanni, Nick Lachey, Shelby Lynn, David Cassidy. This is the World Series on national television, how about breaking out the "A-list" for at least one game. I'd take Marvin Gaye over any of them, and he's been dead for 20 years.

Tim McCarver, in his intro before the game: "Soriano struck out 36% of the time in the post-season."

Gee, ya think FOX had all the on-air talent study the stat-sheet for tonight's game? Also, it would be nice if Kennedy and McCarver could actually agree upon one percentage, although one saying "40% of the time" and the other saying "36% of the time" is a lot funnier.

Mr. Clutch starts things off with a single just over the leaping Luis Castillo and into right field. Jetes is just so dreamy. And Clutch. Did I mention he is Clutch?

Wow, what a mess. Enrique Wilson comes up after Jeter and lays down a bunt to the first base side. Brad Penny cuts in front of Derrek Lee to field it and he can't make a clean play on it. Lee comes in at the last second and tries to make a flip to Castillo, who is covering first. The ball goes past Castillo and into foul territory, allowing Mr. Clutch to scamper to third base. New York has first and third, with no outs.

The official scoring on that play is a hit and an error, even though there is absolutely no chance that Wilson would have been safe on that play if Penny had fielded the bunt even reasonably cleanly.

Jetes tags and scores on a Bernie Williams fly ball to right field. 1-0 Yankees.

Hideki Matsui comes to the plate and Tim McCarver tells us that the Japanese media have taken to calling Matsui "Mr. October." McCarver then laughs at this notion, despite having referred to Derek Jeter as "Mr. October," "Mr. Clutch" and about 100 other silly nicknames approximately 1,439,835 times during the last week. This is like David Wells laughing at Mo Vaughn for eating too much.

Speaking of Mr. Clutch, he is off to a much better start than last night. He singled and scored the first run of the game in the first inning and he just made a nice spinning throw to retire Luis Castillo on a ground ball up the middle.

Tim McCarver on the play: "My goodness."

Uh oh. Something must be wrong with Boomer Wells' back, because David Dellucci is in the on-deck circle and Jose Contreras is warming up in the bullpen.

If everyone prays really hard, I think we might be some more WEAVER TIME! at some point tonight.

Now that Wells is obviously unable to continue, it is pretty funny that just about three minutes ago McCarver and Joe Buck were joking about Wells mocking Roger Clemens' workout routine. I assume tonight's injury is related to Wells' bad back, which certainly isn't helped by that gut he's carrying around.

Okay, they just showed a clip from a press-conference, where Boomer jokes about the difference between Clemens' workout and his. He says something like "Roger is going to write a workout book about how to pitch for 20 years in the majors, and I'll write one about how to not work out and pitch 20 years in the majors." I love Boomer and I'm all for athletes showing their personality, but he's looking pretty stupid right about now.

So lemme get this straight. All that needs to happen for me to win a free 79-cent taco from Taco Bell is for someone to hit a home run into a small target approximately 400 feet from home plate? I don't know, it seems a little too easy, what's the catch?

Joe Buck just called Carl Pavano "John Mayer look-a-like Carl Pavano." I guess I can sort of see that, but don't think for a moment that Joe Buck is the first person to involve John Mayer in a baseball-discussion, because I beat him to that punch long ago.

Jose Contreras is all over the place, walking two straight batters after getting two quick outs in the bottom of the second inning. Last night's hero, Alex Gonzalez, hits a ground-rule double to deep right-center, scoring Mike Lowell to make it 1-1. Derrek Lee also would have scored from first if the ball hadn't hopped over the wall. This is a huge break for the Yankees, because Brad Penny is now up with two outs.

Or not. Penny singles through the infield and into right field, scoring Lee from third and Gonzalez from second. 3-1 Florida.

You know, it feels pretty good to be a Marlins fan right about now.

Derek Jeter just made a routine-play on a ground ball up the middle, while Joe Bucks says, "Jeter times it perfectly." There was nothing to "time" on that play. He moved like a foot to his left, fielded the ball and made a throw to first. There isn't a shortstop in the major leagues who wouldn't have made that play. And if I sound bitter, it is because I am.

For some reason I just got a mental image of Tim McCarver yelling at Jeter like "Mick" from Rocky. "You're gonna eat lightning and you're gonna crap thunder!" Yes, I am insane.

No shots of LL Cool J in the crowd tonight, although FOX just showed Danny Glover eating some french-fries. Joe Buck, always willing to state the obvious, says, "Danny Glover here tonight...eating fries."

Just saw a nice shot of Jeff Weaver chillin' in the bullpen. Joe Buck: "Last night's loser, Jeff Weaver." At this point Joe, I think he's every night's loser.

Looks like Contreras has settled down a bit, which may keep us from seeing more Weaver.

"Guess what? I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more Jeff Weaver!"

Contreras is due up second in the fifth inning, so I bet Torre will pinch-hit for him and then bring Chris Hammond into the game. Contreras has thrown 65 pitches tonight, so I wonder why Torre didn't leave him in a little longer in Game Four (he only threw 26 pitches). Perhaps Torre had a fever...

Like Weaver last night, Hammond will be working on 1,583 days rest, so he should be very fresh.

Oh boy. Buck and McCarver just had a little celebration in the booth because McCarver has now broadcast more World Series games than anyone, ever. He passed Curt Gowdy with tonight's game. Seriously, how f-ing sad is that?

Aaron Boone makes a nice play and gets Ivan Rodriguez in a run-down, but then Enrique Wilson throws the ball away. Wilson got the toss from Boone and was running Rodriguez back to third, but when he went to make the throw to the bag, no one was there. McCarver on the play: "Jeter couldn't get to third in time."

Mike Lowell bloops a single into center, scoring Rodriguez and Jeff Conine. 6-1 Florida.

From the commercial for the "encore-presentation" of the first episode of Skin: "If someone you know missed the series premiere of Skin..." Judging from the ratings, I think it is safe to say that everyone everyone knows missed the series premiere of Skin.

Another shot of Danny Glover and he's still eating. This time it's a hot dog.

Jack McKeon is apparently considering starting Josh Beckett on short-rest in Game Six, which would then likely mean he would go with Carl Pavano on short-rest in a potential Game Seven. To me this makes very little sense, particularly if the Marlins hold on to win this game.

If they head back to New York, up 3-2, they have two shots to win this thing. I would want one of those shots to involve Josh Beckett on full-rest, which he be on for Game Seven. Why juggle things to go with two guys on short-rest when you have a 3-2 lead and you can go with your best pitcher on full-rest?

Beckett going on full-rest for Game Seven would likely mean Dontrelle Willis would get the call in Game Six. Willis is now warming up in the bullpen, so that is probably out the window. They could still go with Mark Redman in Game Six and Beckett in Game Seven, but Redman has been knocked around lately, so I think if Willis enters the game tonight it means Beckett will go on Saturday.

Wow. Penny just threw a 99 MPH fastball by Ruben Sierra for strike three. Penny has been throwing some serious gas all night and he just dialed it up to 99 in the seventh inning.

Men on first and third with two outs and Mr. Clutch is at the plate. Jetes singles to center, scoring New York's second run of the game. Buck: "Jeter delivers again."

Penny goes 3-0 to Enrique Wilson. Wilson should be forced to take the next three pitches, no matter what. He takes on 3-0 and 3-1, and then checks his swing and walks on a 3-2 pitch that was up and away. Bases loaded for Bernie. McKeon stays with Penny and he gets Bernie to fly out to right field to get out of the jam and the inning.

Tonight's rendition of God Bless America is being performed by "Captain Orlando Dona." I suppose if they aren't going to get something good to sing this, they may as well go with someone in the military. Of course, this guy is no Shelby Lynn, that's for sure.

I am now at the point that each time FOX "sideline reporter" Chris Myers comes on screen I find myself turning the channel. At first I would listen until he said something dumb and then just mute the TV, but that isn't enough any more. It's very strange, and almost as if I am too embarrassed for him to even watch.

Okay, I take back everything I ever said about FOX's gratuitous shots of cast members of their shows in the crowd. They just showed the cast of The O.C., including the future Mrs. Aaron Gleeman, Mischa Barton. I think it is time for Mischa to be given the title of "Official Girl I Have a Massive Crush on of Aaron's Baseball Blog."

Seriously Mischa, drop me an email. I'll forget about all Carla Gugino, I swear.

Dontrelle Willis comes out to start the eighth and Joe Bucks calls him "a sweet young man." That sounds like something my grandmother would say.

Soriano pinch-hits and strikes out against Willis. He then stays in to play right field. I have a feeling The Fons may be playing his last few games in the infield this weekend.

The Florida crowd starts up a nice "Yankees Suck!" chant.

Paging Mystique and Aura...Paging Mystique and Aura...

Hmm...it worked! Jason Giambi pinch-hits for Jeff Nelson and smacks a solo homer. Unfortunately for Giambi, that made the score 6-3. Unfortunately for me, it somehow managed to not hit the miniscule Taco Bell sign 400 feet away.

Giambi's homer leads to perhaps the best Tim McCarver quote of all-time: "Well, it was 'Catch me if you can' starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and Giambi did."

Amen Tim, amen.

Jetes gets on base yet again. He is 3-4 with a walk tonight. Does it count as "Clutch Hitting" if you get on base four times and your team loses?

Enrique Wilson makes up for his fielding and the fact that he is a horrible baseball player by lacing a double down the right field line. Jeter scores, it's 6-4, and suddenly the tying-run is coming to the plate in Bernie Williams.

This is not a real good outing by Braden Looper. McKeon yanks him and brings in U.U.U. to face Bernie.

With one out and a runner on second, Urbina starts Williams out with two low fastballs, out of the zone. Bernie fouls off a 2-0 fastball right over the plate. With the count 2-1, I say the following in the Baseball Primer chatroom: "Bernie goes deep right here."

Wow, he came close! Bernie blasts one to deeeeeep right-center, but Juan Encarnacion runs under it and makes the catch on the warning-track. Two outs.

Matsui hits the first pitch from Urbina hard down the first base line, but Derrek Lee makes a nice scoop and runs to the bag for the final out.


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