Monday, October 12, 2009


Preparing For the Fall Classic

The Official American League Division Series program contains the rosters of the New York Yankees, the Minnesota Twins, and the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers and the Twins finished the regular season tied after 162 games, and they played one game to decide who would move on to the ALDS championship.

The Twins won that game, celebrated briefly, then headed to New York to play the Yankees the next day. Certainly, fatigue was a factor in their first game loss to the Yankees.

The second game of the best of five series also took place at Yankee Stadium. Passports in order, it took less than eight hours from the County to stand in the shadows of the house that George (Steinbrenner) built. A quick trip south on 81 past Watertown and Syracuse takes one to the border at Binghampton. East from there, highway 17 winds its way through the Catskills to the Tappan Zee Bridge. The skyline of the Big Apple lies to the south as you cross the Hudson River into the borough of Tarrytown, and its twin sister of Sleepy Hollow. Both towns are now preparing for Hallowe’en, including late night walks in the cemetery. Not for me, thanks.

Parking at the Police Station in Tarrytown costs six dollars a day. The return train trip directly to the Stadium is four dollars, seniors’ rate. We bought our tickets from the machine beside the track, birth certificates not required. In other words, a great way to get in and out of the city.

The Yankee faithful ambled into the park for the 6:07pm start. There was an element of hustle and bustle, but not much. Scalpers had tickets for less than $ 100. The game had been sold out, but here was little panic for patrons seeking seats. The old Yankee Stadium is still standing, covered in a gray shroud.

Reggie Jackson threw out the first pitch. “Mr. October” took a few strides from the dugout, practiced his swing a couple of times to delight the crowd, and threw the ceremonial pitch ten feet into the dirt in front of home plate.

Burnett started for the Yankees, Blackburn for the Twins. Both pitched well until the middle innings when managers began manipulating pitchers and batters. The Twins almost broke the goose egg in the sixth, but Carlos Gomez overran second base, and was tagged out just before teammate Delmon Young touched home plate. Baserunning gaffes would be the undoing of the Twins in the series.

Naturally, power hitting also had something to do with the loss. Alex Rodriguez clubbed a two run homer in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game. Mark Teixeira won the game in the eleventh with a shot inside the foul pole in left field. The Bronx Bombers of 2009 had left another footprint in the sands around the bases of Yankee Stadium.

In the final game of the Series, the Twins again had a chance to win a game when poor baserunning did them in. Derek Jeter snagged a shot up the middle behind second base. With no play at first, he spied Nick Punto rounding third, heading for home. He snapped a throw to Posada behind the plate, who easily caught Punto scampering back to third base.

The Yankees now face the Los Angeles Angels from Anaheim. The Angels disposed of the Boston Red Sox in three games to earn the right to play the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, slated to begin Friday, October 16th. The last four games of the World Series are scheduled for the first few days in November. As we have seen, they are having difficulty getting through the first round of the playoffs in Colorado. Can you imagine playing there in November?

Toronto got it right when they installed the retractable roof. Baseball needs to be played in a hospitable climate. Peanuts and Cracker Jacks do not mix well with snowflakes.

James Hurst

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