September 26, 2014 [LINK / comment]
Derek Jeter bids farewell to New York
I was lucky to be watching last night's Orioles-Yankees game on MASN (just after the Nationals had beaten the Mets) at exactly the right moment in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was a tense situation, since the Yankees' closer David Robertson had just blown a save opportunity, giving up two home runs to turn a 5-2 lead into a 5-5 tie. (Reminds me of Rafael Soriano!) Anyway, Jose Pirela singled and then reached second on a sacrifice bunt. That's when Derek Jeter stepped up to the plate, and just like it was scripted in Hollywood, in his final career at-bat in (New) Yankee Stadium, he hit a game-winning RBI single to right field. And the crowd went wild! It almost sent shivers down my spine to see this emotional farewell to New York City. Earlier Jeter had issued a message to his fans, giving them credit for raising their expectations of him, thus motivating him to do his very best for the team. Is that class, or what? Wow!
Speaking of luck, my friend Brian Vangor was actually at the game, and he took some memorable photos:
On September 7, the Yankees held a special "Derek Jeter Day," with special guests such as Joe Torre, Dave Winfield, Paul O'Neill, Hideki Matsui, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera. I believe, but am not certain, that they officially retired Jeter's #2 that day, consigning that number to the Yankees Hall of Fame. And likewise, Brian Vangor was there to record the event:
I was hoping to see "The Captain" in a game at (New) Yankee Stadium this summer, and as a backup plan I planned to see one of the Yankees games in Baltimore earlier this month. But that didn't work out either. So, I had to content my self with the memory of having seen him play in New York in July 2004, in Baltimore in August 2006, and in Kansas City in August 2011, when I sat just a few rows behind the Yankees' dugout and had a great closeup view.
Nats seek home field advantage
After getting rained out on Wednesday night, the Nationals played a double-header with the Mets yesterday. Starting pitcher Blake Treinen was taken out during the top of the fifth inning, when the Mets scored three runs, but the Nats came back to tie it in the bottom of that inning, taking him off the hook. But Tyler Clippard gave up two runs in the top of the eighth inning, and was charged with the loss in a 7-4 final score.
In the evening, Gio Gonzalez pitched one of his best games ever, allowing just two hits over seven innings, while striking out 12 batters, a new career high for him. The Nats loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth inning, and managed to score three runs -- none of which resulted from a hit! Final score: 3-0. Hey, a win's a win.
That means the Nationals are now 93-65, two and a half games ahead of the L.A. Dodgers in the race for the best regular season record in the National League. They're 16.5 games ahead of the Braves, who have fallen four games below .500; who would have expected that? The Nats will have an opportunity today to clinch home field advantage through the first (and possibly second) rounds of the playoffs next month.
Hockey at Nationals Park
Earier this month the NHL announced that the upcoming "Winter Classic" outdoor hockey match will be held at Nationals Park. The Washington Capitals will host the Chicago Black Hawks. The alternative of RFK Stadium was considered, and frankly that would make more sense as far as providing the best sight lines for the biggest number of fans. It depends on the anticipated attendance, and how many luxury suite tickets can be sold. That means I'll have to get to work on a hockey version diagram of Nationals Park, once the position of the hockey rink is decided upon...
And speaking of Nationals Park, that's where I'll be for the better part of this weekend! Natitude!