The beep came, as expected. It had been yet another banner travel day in America. I spent most of the day in Boston, and I was supposed to be on the 3:30 shuttle back to LaGuardia, which would have got me in at around 4:30. Yet here it was, 9:15, and we had just touched down. Don’t ask… So this beep was going to be my voicemail telling me my car number. But it wasn’t. It was a text from Petey Goods, saying “They s*ck. Wifflemania is more exciting.” ‘No way’, I thought, exasperated. I checked the score. It was 0-0 in the fifth. Believe it or not, I wasn’t worried. I really thought they would win. Just like last night, I was convinced they were going to win that game. I’m not sure why. I know, better than anyone, I think, how futile they are in close games. And by the time I got back to Brooklyn, and got the next text from Petey Goods that said, “They should all be shot,” I was truly surprised.
So what exactly is it that made me think they were going to pull out a game that was close late? I have no idea. Maybe it’s just force of habit. The Yankees are a better team than the Orioles. That can’t be disputed; I don’t care what happened yesterday or today. And generally, in a close game, you like the better team to pull it off. So maybe that’s it. Of course, the later you go in a tie game, the home team has more of an advantage, but that will only go so far if you have the less talented team. And I guess I figured the runs were due to come. Well, aren’t they? As I stressed the other day, they are second in runs scored (at least they were two nights ago, and I’m too miserable to look up whether they still are). So they’re going to get their runs somewhere. They just are. And generally I think I have a pretty good feel for the Yankees ability and inability to score runs. They just don’t go that long without scoring runs. Their absolute max in their worst funks over the last few years has been around 15 or 16 innings. And then they usually pound out of it. And the O’s are truly terrible. So I guess I just figured the O’s were on very borrowed time. I guess…
So just because it’s fun, let’s examine. The Yankees have scored five runs in their last 35 innings. And they scored 5 runs in 27 innings in Colorado. That’s 10 runs in what amounts to the equivalent of about 7 games. And then they had that one 12-inning stretch in San Fran when they scored 10 runs. They can rip off five runs in an inning without batting an eye. But somehow, then, they can’t. And they’ve had losing snaps of 7-in-a-row, 5-of-7, and 7-of-8. But they had a winning streak of 9 games, the second-longest of the Torre era. The Orioles couldn’t put together a 9-game winning streak. Neither could most of the teams in baseball. But the Yankees have that ability. They are fifth in the league in run differential, right up among all of these division leaders and playoff teams. Yet they are three games under .500. They are a team of drastic contrasts, a polarized dichotomy. It truly doesn’t make any sense. If anything sticks out, it’s the close games, which, as you guys may have noticed, I’ve become obsessed with. I don’t know if there is a reason for it; in fact I probably don’t think there is one, even though I know people love to assign reasons to everything. I rather think it’s just a startling, random, confluence of events.
I didn’t see any of the game tonight, so I really have no idea how things went down. Anything further than “not good,” anyway. But whatever it was, I’ve seen it all before.
So indulge me here. I know they didn’t lose this game by one or two runs, but I’m going to illustrate my favorite stat for you guys one more time anyway, just to see if I can get any of you guys as excited (and not in a good way) about it as I am. Let’s say George Steinbrenner ran over one of the gypsies from the Stephen King movie Thinner. And the curse they put on him was that, for the first three months of the season, the Yankees wouldn’t get credit for a win unless they won by three runs or more. But because gypsies just like to mess with you, they said he could have a pass on six games. They were allowed six wins if they won by less than three, but just six. Once they hit six, they would have to win by three or more to get credit for the win. Until the all-star break. And, as you guys all know because of the anticlimactic way I’ve presented it, their record would be the exact same as it is right now. Where’s Joe Mantagna when you need him…. So try that little nugget out on your friends… That is, if your friends are dorks who are obsessed with the Yankees/baseball. You know….like us…..some of us….