Sunday, April 19, 2015

Help! I've Fallen Into A 7-Hour
Yankee Game And I Can't Get Up!

Originally published 4/11/15

By Barry Millman
A funny thing happened last night after I turned on my flat screen and settled in to watch the season series opener between the Yankees and Red Sox.  

Without any warning whatsoever, I suddenly became immobilized. For seven hours. Against my will. Without a Life Alert to save me.

It happened in the bottom of the 9th inning with just one out remaining in the game. 

Up to that point, it had been a typical Yankee game and I was still a volunteer, and not yet a victim. 

I watched from the first pitch through the 5th inning, as unimpressed by Boston's offense as by my own team's. Then the Red Sox broke through with three runs in the top of the 6th and the Yankees managed to answer by loading the bases with none out in the bottom half.  But they could only bring home two runs on an Alex Rodriguez single and a Brian McCann sac fly.  

And there the score remained, 3-2, until the 9th with two outs when Chase Headley walked toward the batter's box holding the team's last hope in the barrel of his bat.

It appeared yet another gritty pitching performance by a flawed but serviceable starting pitcher and a sterling bullpen was about to be wasted by an anemic offense, shoddy defense and embarrassing baserunning mistakes. It was all but over. 

I was rising from my chair. I had plans for the evening. I had a bright future ahead of me.  A better life was waiting for me just beyond this 2-1 pitch. 

Then Headley hit the ball into the upper deck of Yankee Stadium and everything became a blur. The crowd there exploded. My twitter game-watching feed on my computer screen exploded. My brain exploded. And down I went. 

I couldn't move. Chase frigging Headley.  He did this to me.  He forced me to stay where I was. Somehow, he knew I could never walk away from my team when they had come back from so far with so little against their longtime rivals. He knew somehow I could never walk away from such a display of heart in a young season that, so far, had displayed so little of that precious baseball commodity.

And so I stayed where I was -- trapped there by my loyalties to my team and my writing responsibilities to Field Generals -- with nobody but some fellow fans and blogging colleagues on Twitter for company.

I watched disgustedly in the top of the 16th inning as David Ortiz hit a home run and circled the bases in a slow, haughty shuffle.  

And I watched ecstatically in the bottom of the 16th when Mark Teixeira erased the stench of Papi's tater trot with one of his own.

I noticed my Twitter companions were growing noticeably thinner in number by then, and the ones who remained -- many of them cripples like myself who could not bring themselves to sleep or otherwise miss a moment of the game -- had begun to undergo certain personality changes. Patience for some was clearly wearing thin. In others, senses of humor grew darker or simply disappeared. 

When Pablo Sandoval singled in a run at the top of the 18th, some of my companions of the pinstripe persuasion seemed to voice relief, much to my horror. 

For me, this was no longer game, but a war of attrition.  As long as my Yankees were refusing to surrender, neither would I.

In the bottom of the inning, Carlos Beltran drove in a run of his own with a double to tie the score once again.

My organs were shifting. My brain was burning. My eyes were stinging. My fingers were stiff and sore from banging my keyboard, as I remained determined to stay connected to the fast-dwindling tweeters on my screen. They were dropping like flies.

The few remaining diehards were now, like me, tweeting their support for a just conclusion to the ordeal that, in hindsight, could more aptly be described as public pleas to be euthanized.

A little while after Boston's Mookie Betts drove in an unearned run with a sac fly in the top of the 19th and the Yankees had no answer in the bottom half,  I simply blacked out. 

I awoke this morning a bit dazed and glazed, but no longer a prisoner of a game -- only of a team that once again fell short due to an anemic offense, shoddy defense and embarrassing baserunning mistakes.

It's great to be up and around again. 

But I've got a major bone to pick with that frigging Headley.

Red Sox 6. Yankees 5.

1-2. 159 to go.

What's next: Game #4: Saturday, April 11, 1:05 pm at Yankee Stadium vs. Boston Red Sox