10/20/2004: Gem o'the Day:
King Kaufman does it again today, in preparation for today's Game 7 of the American League Championship Series; this is about yesterday's ALCS game:
In the eighth, the Yankees seemed to be in the process of the late rally that you just knew had to be coming. They'd picked up a run off of Schilling in the seventh on a Bernie Williams homer. Now, against Bronson Arroyo, who'd been shelled as the Game 3 starter, the Yanks had closed to 4-2 on a Miguel Cairo double and a Derek Jeter single, and the big sluggers were coming up.
Alex Rodriguez hit a dribbler up the first-base line. Arroyo fielded it and, after a moment's hesitation with first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who had also gone for the ball and was now out of position, Arroyo reached out to tag Rodriguez. The ball squirted loose and rolled up the right-field line. Jeter raced all the way around to score. A-Rod ended up at second.
Here it was! The moment. The one that Red Sox fans would relive for decades to come, worrying it like an old scar. One run scoring and the tying run moving into scoring position as the ball rolls away behind first base. Ring any bells? The ball rolls away behind first base!
But here came Francona again. Into the huddle went the umpires again. Rodriguez was out! Jeter back to first! As the Sox had calmly claimed, Rodriguez had slapped the ball out of Arroyo's glove, which is interference. You can bull into a fielder who's standing in the baseline with the ball, but you can't punch, kick, slap or otherwise unsportsmanlikishly dislodge the ball. Out was the proper call, and the proper call was made.
Not according to Yankees fans, who bombarded the field with all matter of detritus, causing the rest of the eighth and the top of the ninth to be played with squads of riot-gear-clad cops crouching along the box-seat rail on each side of the field.
Only in New York! Yankee Stadium probably even has ground rules for this: "A ball striking a police officer or any part of his equipment shall be in play, excepting that any ball mistaken for an apple and picked up by a police horse with his mouth shall be declared dead, with all runners returning to the last legally touched base and the horse getting to keep the ball ..."
Len on 10.20.04 @ 01:16 PM CST