Ow! My aching bat!
Last Wednesday, the sports world had its knickers in a twist when New York Yankee living legend Derek Jeter fooled an umpire into thinking that he was struck by a pitch when the ball only hit his bat’s head. When I saw the video, it did not sound like the ball hit any Jeterian body part — unless his elbow is made out of titanium. Since he was quick thinking, Jeter milked his “injury” to the hilt. His Academy Award-worthy acting duped the umpire, Lance Barksdale (a name straight out of screwball comedy central casting), into rewarding him with a free pass to first base. Tampa Bay Rays’ manager, Joe Maddon, erupted at Barksdale rightfully insisting that the ump blew the call. Jeter should have been called out. Barksdale ejected Maddon from the game. The following Yankee batter, Curtis Granderson, then hit a home run. For all Yankee haters, this story has a happy ending. The Yankees ultimately lost 4-3.
It is no secret that the Yankees, possibly the most glorified sports franchise in history is also reviled by legions. Illustrating the poles of emotion that this team incites are my close personal friends Milton and Martini Max. Milton despises the Yankees as much as Max worships them. All I have to do is utter “the Y word” to Milton and his knee-jerk response is a deep monosyllabic groan of contempt, but he does find Alex Rodriguez physically attractive.
If I say, “the 2000 World Series” to Max, his eyes mist. This was the subway series between the Mets and Yankees that Max had waited all of his life to see. We spent game one, Saturday, October 21st, together, missing that game in its entirety.
I was with Max, offering moron support.
Six months earlier Max had scheduled a movie event in New Jersey appropriately called “Horror on the Cliffs” since only three people showed, and they did not include Max’s wife or his mother. They stayed home to tune in the game. One attendee was the town idiot, a guy that liked to wear flower print frocks that he borrowed from his mother when she wasn’t looking. I referred to him as Norman Bates.
Fittingly on a night when nothing was destined to go well, there was a power outage so there were not any lights illuminating the parking lot. As Max and I were standing atop the Palisades in the dead of night, waiting for the lights to be restored, we were both looking longingly towards the Bronx. Here is a transcript of our conversation:
Me: Max, are we safe standing out here? No one knows we’re here. This is the perfect spot for a crazy killer to beat us to death with a bat.
Max (woefully): Did you have to say “bat” to me tonight of all nights?
Me: Maybe he’ll off us with an ax. Standing in the dark in the woods is inviting a bad ending for us.
Max: Who the hell is gonna kill us? No one’s here but us!
Me: Now that you mention it, it does kinda look that way.
Max: See that out there.
Max is pointing at Yankee Stadium glowing in the distance.
Me: Don’t think about it.
Max (screaming): It’s all I can think about! I’m standing on a fuckin’ cliff as my baseball team is playing the first game of the subway series I’ve longed to see my entire life! Why did this have to happen to me tonight of all nights?
Me: Take it up with the scheduler. Get him a new Magic 8 ball.
For Yankee fans with deep pockets, old Yankee Stadium Monument Park bricks are now on sale for $179.99 from the Store on The New York Times web site.
For Yankee fans hit harder by the recession (that allegedly ended in July 2009 — who knew?) but prefer a more affordable piece of the old ballpark, Steiner Sports is selling key chains filled with used dirt for $19.99 on Amazon.
Or, for fans that prefer to fake like the pros, just grab an old brick from a construction site or a fist full of dirt from your nearest playground and argue vociferously that it’s the real deal.