First, the brief monthly report on the state of the Yankees; Second, for the non-sports-fans, an entertaining story that predated VTK by about a month or two that hasn't been shared in this forum yet.
The Left Infield:
Would that I could have live blogged this post from the aforepictured seats in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night, but, well, I was kinda focused on the Awesomeness. I think this was the first time I've seen Roger Clemens pitch in person and the 45 year old first ballot lock didn't disappoint. He gave up 9 hits and was pitching out of trouble all night but went 6 strong and only gave up the one run, keeping his team in the game until the Jeter/Abreu/A-Rod/Matsui/Posada/Cano show could strike back in the 7th. The 7th in which I registered a mild protest against Steinbrenner by exiting my seat with 2 outs in the top of the 7th to peruse the hallway vendor wares, and returning in the bottom of the 7th, so I could extricate myself from the God Bless America Police State Lockdown bullshit situation. I got back just in time to see The Captain lace one by the second baseman, go to third on Bob A's single, and go home on A-Rod's ripped 2 RBI double. The Stadium was going nuts on a Wednesday night. Two more came in on Robbie's hit three batters later. In the next 1/2 inning, the relief was shaky, so Joe had to go to Mo for 5 outs. Which was fine with me since I only get to see him live every couple years. He worked out of the inherited jam and struck out the 4 for 4 Alex Rios with men on 2nd and 3rd to preserve the lead. Two more for the Bombers in the bottom of the eighth made for a relaxed scoreless ninth for Mariano. And on came the Frank Sinatra version of New York New York instead of the Liza Minelli version. Great game. I even enjoyed the Cotton Eyed Joe play after the 8th. A huge thanks to old friend and VTK reader, CA, for the tix and hospitality.
The state of the Yankees is looking good. We're 7 games back in the East (6 back in the loss column) and I think I can comfortably call that striking distance. 7 and 3 in the last 10 and 3 games over .500, which might not seem that great, but given the first half of the season, I'll take it. In the consolation race, the Yanks are also 7 back in the Wild Card Race. Questions remain about the recovery and impact of Wunderkind Phil Hughes, the inconsistent performance of Abreu and Damon, and the stability of the middle relief corps; Optimism abounds with the recent improved play of Cano, Matsui, and Mariano Rivera. Our next 10 games are against the combined 48.5 games out of first place D-Rays, Royals, and Orioles. I'd like to get 8 out of 10. Seven would be passable. Six or less would be a big disappointment.
As you can see from the pictures I took, I remembered to bring my $300 digital camera in the Stadium with me this time. Not so, the last time I was in the Bronx, two years ago. I had rented a car to drive down for a quick afternoon game and had put my camera in the armrest glove compartment. After a long drive and some tough traffic, I finally reached the Stadium and was frantically trying to find parking since I was missing the first pitch of my first game at Yankee Stadium in about 10 years. I located one of those chain link fence parking lots a couple blocks away and decided to shell out the $20 and hand over my keys (they have to move the cars around). It's a little sketchy to hand your keys over to someone in the South Bronx, but these chain link fence parking situations are common and there's like a 99% chance that they're not going to steal your car. They will, however, steal anything of value left in your car. I knew this, but in my haste, I forgot about the camera until I was inside the Stadium. I said to myself, "well, that's gone. might as well enjoy the game and worry about it afterwards." The Bombers won in glorious 6 run in the ninth comeback fashion and I left with a mild buzz and a great mood. When I returned to the lot, a different guy drove my car over to me and, of course, the camera was gone. So, I started making a quiet scene, searching the car, the trunk, etc. The guy asked me what was wrong since I was blocking the exit with my car. I explained that my camera was gone, at which point he asked me: 1. "Are you sure you had it with you?" 2. "Are you sure it was in the car?" 3. "Are you sure you didn't leave it home." I responded, "positive, positive, positive, it was in the arm rest glove compartment." Let's call this Verbatim Interaction A, or VIA. I was continuing to search my bag and recheck everywhere during VIA. To my surprise, he said he was going to call his manager because this type of thing never happens there. I knew I was fucked, so a simple go fuck yourself would have had me out of the lot and on my way down to Manhattan, but he decided to try to con their way out of this the apparently professional way. So, with a glimmer of hope, I played along while he was on his cell talking to "the manager": I was emailing on my blackberry, pretending to talk on the phone, and reading the Dept of Commerce municipal sign that was taped to the chain link fence. Then he came over and put me on the phone with the manager and we had VIA 2. He said he'd be right down. Again, go fuck yourself would have had me on the Major Deegan Expressway, but con v con was on. An awkward 15 minutes between me and the attendant ensued as all the other cars were now gone out of the lot: " ... I didn't steal your camera" - "oh, yeah, no, i didn't think you did. it's just that I know it was there and now it's gone. maybe the other guy has a lost and found or something ..." Finally, The Manager showed up and it was just the dude who I handed my keys to at the beginning. We had VIA 3. Then he said, "I don't know what to tell you, this never happens here. How much was the camera worth?" "$300" "Hmmm, yeah. That sucks. Do you just need a camera? Cuz I can get you a camera" *thinking "yeah, I know you can. you're a fucking camera thief", saying "nah, I really need that camera"* Again, I couldn't believe we'd gone this far. We were like 40 minutes in at this point and he must have been starting to think I might cause some legal trouble. We had abbreviated VIA 4, and then he said, "well, I can get your information and have my boss send you a new camera ..." "... I don't know. I don't think that's going to work." Then the remainder of the interaction took about 10 seconds: he said, "... or ... I could just give you a hundred bucks" "I'll take the $100 bucks." He whipped out a fat wad, literally snapped off a hundred dollar bill, I put it in my pocket, got in the car, asked him for directions, he gave them to me, looking pissed off that he had just paid $100 to the person he stole a 3 year old camera from, and I drove away. The funny thing is, I was stuck in traffic a block away for 10 minutes. He could have walked up to the window, demanded the sawbuck back and told me to go fuck myself. The unfunny thing is that in Manhattan, that $100 bought about one round. But, as my dad pointed out that night, I got $100 off the thieves who stole my camera that was probably only worth $150 in resale and a good story. Not too bad of a deal.