Bronx, N.Y., Oct. 21, 2001 — I can’t remember when I’ve attended a more dramatic and gripping game, despite (with apologies to the pitchers) the offensive ineptitude. And even though they got the first hit, and the first lead, I’ll give that booby prize to the Mariners. And it’s not because they struck out 10 times to our five; it’s that they allowed Mo to get them out in the top of the ninth on three pitches. As it was, it allowed for the possibility of another two innings from Mariano. As it is, it means he’s available Monday night too, and not just for an inning.
I can’t recommend seeing games in person enough, and it’s not because you get the best view or that you see things you don’t see at home (though sometimes the first occurs, while the latter happens all the time). Even though I painted a picture of a Mr. Abbott who implodes in the Bronx in yesterday’s essay, I have seen the Abbott of today. On an ugly Sunday afternoon on August 6, 2000, the Mariners handed us our lunch in Yankee Stadium, scoring an 11-1 victory off el duque, Alan Watson, and Jason Grimsley. Abbott went eight, giving up the one run on a dinger by Bernie, surrendering seven hits, but only three walks. So I knew he could stop us.
Actually, it’s also not the first time I’ve seen a Soriano walk-off tater either. On the team as a September call-up in 1999, he led off the bottom of the 11th against Tampa Bay with his first major league hit — a walk-off homer off Norm Charlton!
But those sightings pale in comparison to the big one. And no, even though it was big, I’m not referring to the fact that my friend, Bernz, who partook in the impressive pregame showing in the outfield of USAF personnel from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, stopped by to say hello before the first pitch. Along with the huge unfurled flag in the outfield, the singing of the National Anthem by the Harlem Boys Choir, another soaring flight by the eagle Challenger, and Yogi and Scooter tossing out the honorary first pitch, it made for another stirring sight, I can tell you. And Scooter has been up to something the last few games that I just caught onto tonight where he holds his ball, runs past the first baseline, and then turns and tosses to the catcher; the crafty old shortstop is copying Derek’s great play!
No, the thing I saw by attending the game, the thing that very few saw, I saw because we got there early enough to see the end of Yankee batting practice, which was just breaking up when Sue took the picture here. The last trio to take their swings were Pauly, Scotty and Alfonso. And Alfonso, alone of the three, was doing the same thing with every pitch from Willie Randolph: He was hitting homeruns to right field!