As mentioned here, I recently ventured out to Yankee Stadium, Red Sox cap in tow, for a pair of games involving the 26-Time World Champion New York Yankees and the…shit, let’s go with Two-Time World Champion Toronto Blue Jays (the Toronto fanbase isn’t quite as forthcoming with this statistic, but I’m pretty sure their back-to-back wins in ’92 and ’93 were the franchise’s only titles).
I was originally supposed to only attend Tuesday’s game, as I rushed to my computer and bought a ticket for the game on Friday when it was announced that the Yankees were going to fuck their own world up by transferring relief ace Joba Chamberlain to the starting rotation. They had originally planned to have him make this transition in spring training, but then decided, nah, we’ll leave him in the bullpen. About a month later, though, they realized their starters suck, and concluded that they’d made a huge mistake by leaving Joba in the pen. But there was a solution! They could progressively build up his endurance by facing Major League hitters in high-stress, late game situations! Surely, this plan could not fail.
What followed was a highly amusing sequence of appearances in which Chamberlain was presumably asked to throw a certain number of pitches to build up his endurance. On May 21 against the Baltimore Orioles, when this experiment was said to have begun, Joba threw 35 pitches in a blowout win. He entered the game in the sixth inning, and common sense may have indicated that a low pressure situation like an 8-0 game would be a good situation to try to pull another inning out of him. This never occurred to Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Three days later, Chamberlain pitched another pair of scoreless innings, this time against the Seattle Mariners. He threw 40 pitches in the appearance.
He took something of a developmental step backward, however, when he was inexplicably called upon to record four outs against the Orioles on May 28. Because of the brevity of his outing, Chamberlain only threw 28 pitches (he was said to throw 27 more in a bullpen session immediately afterwards). Clearly, more work had to be done to prepare him to regularly throw 100 or so pitches every five days.
Or not. Two days after that counterproductive appearance, Girardi announced that Joba would be the team’s starter for its June 3 game against the Jays.
So, how did that work out?
Well, better than I hoped — but not by much. While he didn’t ever throw a 100+ MPH fastball and fall to the ground, clutching his arm in agony immediately afterwards as 50,000+ stunned Yankee fans watched in horror, Joba was pretty awful in his first inning. He walked the first batter he faced, Shannon Stewart, on eight pitches. Then he balked him over to second. A passed ball moved him over to third, and a ground out scored the first run of the game. Now, this sounds like it was done in a fairly rapid sequence. That’s the beauty of the typed word, though. In actuality, Chamberlain threw about a million pitches, kept just missing the strike zone and all in all looked like a complete failure. Miraculously, he only allowed one run in the inning, though he did exceed the number of pitches he had thrown in his prior appearance.
So yeah, helluva start there. He settled down a little bit after the first inning, but it was too late. The Hottest Ticket In Town was made obselete with one out recorded in the third inning, when Joba got the hook after throwing 62 pitches.
He finished up having allowed two runs on one hit while walking four batters and striking out three. As he walked off the mound, he was met with what is best described as awkward appreciation from the Toilet Dwellers. In response, he tipped his cap, then stormed into the dugout and began throwing shit around.
While that show was taking place, Chamberlain was replaced by something called Dan Giese. You may ask yourself, “Who the hell is Dan Giese?” You would not be alone. This refrain was actually more common than any Sox-related hatred that my choice of hat generated in my two nights of Yankee Stadium baseball. Before long, Toiletvision would explain to everybody in the dark that Giese was making his major league debut.
And what an uninspiring debut it was. Giese was solid, keeping his team in the game as they tried to scratch out runs against world-class starter Roy Halladay. Still, he didn’t manage to capture the imagination of the Yankee fans in attendance, many of whom had departed along with Chamberlain.
Saddled with just another boring baseball game, the Yankee fans became restless. From where would they derive their joy now? Even a token appearance by life-sucker-ater Boomer Esiason couldn’t soothe their restlessness.
Then it happened.
Adam Sandler appeared on the big screen, eating ice cream out of a novelty plastic Yankees cap, minding his own business.
The Stadium exploded (figuratively, I regret to say).
Sandler graciously acknowledged the cheers, sheepishly waving to the crowd before returning to his frozen dessert.
“Holy fucking shit!” remarked one nearby Yankee fan. “That’s Adam Sandler!”
“Dude, Adam Sandler is here!” another observed.
“Adam Sandler is the fuckin’ man!” opined a third.
Yes, it’s true. Of all the dramatic things I’d ever seen, Adam Sandler was sitting there in lower level box eating ice cream, announcing he was at the game.
And this was fine. Look, given the choice of having either Adam Sandler or Dane Cook as a Red Sox fan, I’d murder Dane Cook. He would be stabbed into kingdom come. Oh, it’d be awesome. SO awesome.
What was I talking about again?
Right, Sandler. Anyway, he waved to everyone and went back to his ice cream and the game continued. He would ask a pre-recorded trivia question a little later also. Okay, fine. Hey, he’s a popular celebrity, I get it.
So the game resumed and the chatter, at least in my section, shifted back to… yes, Adam Sandler. How great his movies are. (Thank fuck nobody claimed Anger Management was any good. Though there was this, at least.) His recent MTV Movie Awards performance. And, well, what else is there to Adam Sandler?
Apparently enough for people to begin scheming for ways to get into the lower level seating and try to harass an autograph out of the man. There was some talk of a kamikaze mission from at least one duo. “I’ll try to run past security and you run down and get Adam Sandler’s autograph,” proposed some dude who I’m guessing may have thrown back an alcoholic beverage or two. I particularly loved this idea because of its potential for disaster and the complete lack of benefit it would bear for the human sacrifice. Seriously, “I’ll try to get arrested while you get a celebrity’s autograph!”? How were they the only ones to think of this? (And I ask this question because you’d think that if someone was stupid enough to legitimately propose such an idea, they wouldn’t be smart enough to have the restraint to conclude it’s a bad idea.)
The Sandler Watch got truly ridiculous, though, when Giese departed and was replaced by the parade of incompetence that is every late-inning Yankees reliever not named Mariano Rivera. At the time, the Blue Jays had a 3-2 lead and the game was well within reach for the Yankees.
Then came Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez and LaTroy Hawkins.
It was soon 9-2 Blue Jays and the Toilet was soon divided into four distinct demographics: elated Toronto Blue Jays fans, amused Red Sox fans (there were approximately four of us by my count), Yankee fans who quit on their team, and Yankee fans who quit on their team but were over-the-top intrigued by Adam Sandler’s behavior while watching a ballgame.
Funny side note about Hawkins. He was greeted with a most hostility of the three bum relievers who entered the game in the seventh inning, but he turned out to be the most effective. Still, the guy has just been a disaster in New York, dating back to when he decided it’d be a good idea to request the yet-to-be-retired number of beloved Yankee Paul O’Neill in spite of The Troy’s pitiful track record. Worse, the Yankees actually granted his request and he began the season with the #21 on his back.
For those unfamiliar with the Yankee way, allow me to explain. The Yankees like to retire numbers. I mean, they love it. (Hell, they even retired one number twice!) So, there are only about 100 possible numbers to be distributed to a team’s players, and the Yankees have retired roughly 98 of those. Somehow, Paul O’Neill’s number remained available and they thought “Hey, this guy sucks, let’s give it to him!” And so it was done.
To put it another way, imagine if a public figure, say a president, was taking office and wanted to send a strong message to his (or her) public that electing him (or her) president was not a mistake. Like, say back in 2004 that Horst Kohler wanted to reassure his German masses that they were in good hands now that he had ascended to the presidency through a narrow victory. He could say all the right things, but that may have only taken him so far. No, he needed to show everyone how efficient he would be. By growing a square mustache, harkening back to a popular predecessor.
Now imagine the mustachioed Kohler sent his military forces to Poland carrying gift baskets filled with delicious German chocolate and kegs full of tasty German beer.
You’d have a rough equivalent to LaTroy Hawkins.
Anyway, The Sandman hung around for the bottom half of the 7th inning, when the Yankees only managed to score one run after their first two batters drew walks. Soon after, he and roughly 10,000 other sad, sad people made their way to the exits, leaving a comparitively small group to watch the remainder of the game.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Derek Jeter singled to right field against Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor, giving Jeter his 2,415th career hit, which tied him with Mickey Mantle on the all-time list. The prominent moment was given the respect it deserved, as the few thousand people that weren’t me, the other three Sox fans or the pack of Blue Jays fans, rose to their feet as one and gave the aggravated Yankee captain the laughably vacant standing ovation he so richly deserved.
Toronto won 9-3.
Night two of Toiletpalooza was somewhat less eventful. There was no buzz in the building that night, even with Jeter looking to pass Mantle on the all-time hits list after tying him the night before. Partly explaining this was the pitching matchup between a past-his-prime Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina who, while he’s been successful this year, is equal parts boring and unlikeable — and maybe a teeny bit racist — and Toronto’s Jesse Litsch, whose big claim to fame is that he once served as a bat boy for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Not exactly the easiest guy to believe in, 2008 numbers notwithstanding (he was 7-1 with a 3.18 ERA prior to his start.) Still, he was all that was standing between Toiletpalooza being considered a rousing success as opposed to a moderate one.
We arrived a little late to this game. What this means when you go to Yankee Stadium is that you’re permitted to enter the Toilet so long as you demonstrate that you don’t have any recording equipment or bottles. It was a strange list of items they were rattling off — my buddy Madden and I debated on whether or not they suggested that you weren’t allowed to bring cats into the building. I also noticed that they said nothing about firearms into the venue, so perhaps they’ve relaxed that policy. Well, it’s been almost seven years.
Anyway, the details on this game are a little hazy. Whereas I got a scorecard for the first game and kept meticulous notes of what was going on — right down to Joba’s pitch count, because I’m a geek, you see — my late arrival combined with the fact that I’d have to pay seven bucks for another copy of Yankee Magazine made my decision an easy one. It also gave me a chance to take in that aura of the Toilet that they always talk about on TV.
Did I mention it was raining? Well, it was. Luckily, our seats were so ungodly high that we were actually covered by the rim of the Stadium. What this meant was that people in the lower section began scrambling when the rain started to pick up and proceeded to go through a shuttle run drill for much of the night.
We had plenty of time to make note of this because Mussina and Litsch are, as noted, boring fucking pitchers. Whereas Joba threw three 100+ MPH fastballs the night before, the two starters combined for maybe that many 90+ heaters during the game. And that was on the Yankee Stadium radar gun, which I have reason to believe is a bit on the generous side. Like, it’s probably what cops use.
Keeping with the theme of boredom, even the player notes on Toiletvision reached a point of inanity. Madden and I started to observe these notes early on when I pointed out that they would routinely post statistics that had little or no bearing on the situation at hand. “Melky Cabrera batted .461 on a recent road trip,” “Jose Molina has thrown out some baserunners,” “Matt Stairs was born in Canada.”
But our favorite had to be when third string Blue Jays catcher Curtis Thigpen came to the plate. Thigpen boasted a robust batting average of .000 with 0 home runs and 0 runs batted in. So how did they spin this one?
“CURTIS THIGPEN — ENTERED IN 6TH”
Anyway, not much else to talk about as far as the actual game went. Yankees won 5-1, Mariano came in and destroyed some people, Kyle Farnsworth was booed when he entered prior to Mo. Standard fare.
Oh and Jeter got his 2,416th career hit to pass Mickey Mantle on the all-time hit list. Mussina also set some kind of record, passing some dweeb for 7th place all-time on the Yankees strikeout list. This occurred after Jeter got his standing ovation for passing Mantle and, as you may have guessed, nobody cared.
We evacuated the premises and headed to the subway station so Madden could pick up a Metrocard. This took longer than expected. As he was getting the card, I was standing around, and I noticed what can best be described as a compressed Mexican gesturing towards my backwards-Sox-cap-wearing self. Hey, whatever, I thought.
So Madden finally got his card and we were ready to bounce. So we start to head downstairs, and I see El Guapo leaving his group of friends, all in Yankees gear, naturally, and approaching out of the corner of my eye. So I kind of freeze a little bit and make sure he’s still approaching. And he is. And just as he reaches me, I turn towards him, and he reacts by just standing there looking kind of dumbfounded, maybe a little heartbroken. I’m not sure what his master plan was — perhaps he was going to knock my cap off of my head, thereby wounding my soul — but whatever it was apparently involved me not paying attention.
Which I found to be a popular trend amongst the vocally anti-Sox fans during Toiletpalooza. They wait until there’s about a six of them around to shout insults (and what insults they were. “Get a haircut, Sox faggot!” “Hey Sox, you’re gay!”). I wasn’t confronted face-to-face at all, which is pretty comical since I’m about 5’8 and a buck fifty since I gave up In-N-Out Burger over the winter (that actually reminds me, I was heckled by someone slightly taller and visibly heavier than me to lose weight while leaving the game on Wednesday. That ruled.) Seriously, what was I going to do?
I guess what I’m trying to say is, the Yankees suck, their fans are a bunch of pussies, Derek Jeter is undeserving of praise and I can’t wait for the Toilet to be shut the fuck down forever.
P.S.: The P.A. guy doing the bad impression of Bob Sheppard is a nice touch, you soulless assholes.
Next stop, Philadelphia!