BRONX, N.Y., Oct. 18, 2001 — That’s not to say that they walk around with slide rules and leaky pens sticking out of their pocket protectors, or with bits of tape applied to their too-big glasses. And the private lives of at least the single guys who live in the big city are more the stuff of tabloids than of scholarly journals buried deep in the racks of the school library. But there are certain mathematical dilemmas they are in the habit of clearing up, so I’ll add “nerds” to the wonderful vocabulary that has grown around this great bunch of guys who play in the greatest city in the world.
The “nerd” theory began germinating in my brain when I chose to try to settle my pregame jitters with a vigorous boardwalk walk along Long Island Sound, listening to Sterling and Kay and their pregame show.
“Why the jitters?” you ask. I watched every pitch of Mussina’s gem in Oakland and knew he was dead on. I can see that the rest of the pitching staff has rounded very well into postseason form. The defense has been crisp, and most of the guys have been having better at bats (except for Brosius I mused in the cold air). But it was a week ago that we were held to 18 hits in the first three games of the ALDS, and I have seen what Freddy Garcia can do to our lineup. In Game 1 of the ALCS last year (on balmy October 10), he held us to three hits in the Cathedral, and two of those were courtesy of Mr. Sojo. And then there’s Edgar. It may be retro to fear him more than Ichiro. Call me a Neanderthal.
It’s silly, really, the little tidbit Sterling dropped that turned my outlook sunny, but I’ll take anything I can get. We’ve all heard over and over the dazzling numbers involved in this glorious run we’re on. Fourteen consecutive World Series wins before the Mets finally eked one out. Victorious in 13 of the last 14 playoff series we’ve played. Bernie and DJ 2 are threatening all-time postseason power and rbi numbers, and DJ1 is first in postseason career hits at the ripe old age of 27. Take your pick.
But when John Sterling told me that the Yanks were 50-17 in playoff games under Torre and needed one more win to attain an exactly .750 winning percentage, I somehow knew they would win. These guys loathe crooked numbers, which is why the pitchers hold opponents to so few runs. When we all pleaded that they should win No. 25 before the calendar bid the nineties (and the twentieth century) farewell, they came through. And last year, well, we couldn’t start a new decade, century and millennium on a downer, now could we? And this year? OK, maybe they’re not nerds; maybe I am. But I just knew that this Yankee team would equalize that number.
Moose was great, and may have had another shutout without Javier. And Scotty B, well we all know that this team, though we’ve attained a youthful core, is about the vets, and giving each and every one of them one more Dance in the Starlight before the hot stove days determine everyone’s fate, so how great was it that he got the biggest hit? And speaking of guys with uncertain Yankee futures, conratulations to Chuck. I think we all knew he’d remain a great playoff player.
Ramiro and Mariano each did their jobs (it seems there just aren’t enough lefties on this team for Stanton to get too much work except for an Ichiro battle or two). Cameron robbed Bernie, and Bernie made a thankfully painless error. Paul proved himself the wily vet we all knew him to be with his second-inning flip to Bernie that prevented a third (first of three, actually) run. Derek made a big play again, and you know what?
He didn’t look the least bit nerdy doing it.