September 25, 2008
Even though the Yanks won in Toronto last night (thanks to a tenth-inning grand slam by Bobby Abreu!), they were eliminated from postseason contention when the Red Sox beat the Indians, clinching at least the wild card spot in the American League. As a result, for the first time in his 14-year career in the majors, Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter will be a spectator rather than a player during the month of October. The same goes for Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada, all of whom began their careers with the Yankees in the very same year: 1995! (Actually, Pettitte spent three years with the Astros, 2003-2006, the last of which Houston did not make the playoffs.) Those four players are the only remaining Yankees from that grand era of four world championships and six American League pennants. The Yankees won the American League East Division in 1996 and every year from 1998 through 2006, a record of prolonged dominance matched only by the Atlanta Braves in the contemporary era. The Yankees were the wild card team in 1995, 1997, and 2007.
"Glory Days, oh they pass you by, Glory Days..."
Meanwhile the Dodgers, under the new management of Joe Torre (!), have clinched the NL West division. That means both teams from Los Angeles will be playing in October, as one and perhaps two teams from Chicago will make the cut, while no more than one team from New York will qualify. Congratulations to the Dodgers and the Red Sox.
Last night's Cubs-Mets game on ESPN was quite a thriller, a neck-and-neck race that went into the tenth inning. That's when Derrek Lee doubled in a run, and Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer, and that was more than enough to win, 9-6. The Mets kept getting runners to third base late in the game, and they kept failing to get them home. They got revenge on the Cubs tonight, winning 7-6 when Carlos Beltran singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
The (nameless) tropical storm that is sweeping through the Mid-Atlantic states is throwing a monkey wrench into the end of the regular season. The final game in Washington scheduled for this evening was cancelled, as neither the Nationals nor the Marlins are contending for playoff spots. Well, at least the Nationals won't cross the ignomonious threshhold of 100 losses playing at home. Their last three games of the season, in Philadelphia, will have to be played, even if postponed due to rain, as the Phillies fight to retain the divisional title. The Mets, hot on their heels, host the Marlins in the last three games ever-to-be-played in Shea Stadium this weekend, while the Red Sox host the Yankees in Fenway Park. Since the Tampa Bay Rays' magic number is one, the Red Sox would have to win all three of those games to win the division, and the Rays would have to lose all three of their games in Detroit.
One of the Washington Senators' greatest sluggers ever, Mickey Vernon, passed away at the age of 90. He won the A.L. batting title in 1946 (.353) and 1953 (.337), and hit 172 home runs during his 22-year career. After retiring as a player, he managed the second Senators franchise from 1961 to 1963. See MLB.com. The first time I recall coming across his name was seeing it on the "Wall of Fame" at RFK Stadium in 2005. It is sad that names like his and Roy Sievers were all but forgotten to a generation of sports fans in Washington, during the three decades that baseball was absent from Our Nation's Capital.