(This edition of About Last Night is going to be a little different than previous editions. The title is obviously different but content will also be unusual. No charts or heat maps or videos, just my thoughts about what the Yankees have accomplished so far. ~Stacey)
Before Wednesday’s game started I was calm. And that felt strange to me because I’m a pretty anxious person by nature. I worry about everything no matter how big or small so for me to be even-keeled on Wednesday afternoon was a foreign feeling for me. A lot of people like to joke about that sensation and call it “zen baseball.” It’s when you claim that you don’t care about the outcome of a game. About 10 minutes before first pitch, that calmness was replaced by full-blown anxiety. And I know this will sound strange but I was actually relieved because being anxious feels more natural to me. I felt like myself again.
I was anxious when Corey Kluber threw his first pitch and Brett Gardner laid down a bunt and was thrown out at first. I was anxious, and also exasperated when Aaron Judge struck out. Then, Didi Gregorius hit his first home run of the game and that feeling of calm washed over me again. Well, after I screamed at the TV in disbelief. When he crossed home plate, I thought to myself, “They might actually do this.”
After Didi’s second home run landed in the seats and I finished screaming a second time, I thought, “Wow, They could really do this.”
When CC Sabathia was mowing down Cleveland’s hitters like it was no big deal, it felt like the game was going the Yankees way, until the bottom of the fifth when it seemed like he had forgotten how to pitch or, maybe, Cleveland remembered how to hit. But, after David Robertson came in to relieve CC and induced that crucial double play to end the scoring threat and end the inning, I thought, “They’re doing this.”
I hadn’t felt that sure about a Yankee team in a playoff game in a really long time. (I’m not counting the Wild Card game. That’s different.)
When Brett Gardner was up in the ninth inning and he kept fouling off Cody Allen’s offerings, I had a good feeling. I said out loud, “Just hit a single!” I figured Aaron Hicks would score, the Yankees would get an insurance run, and things would be a little easier for Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the frame. What I didn’t anticipate was that Gardner would get the single, Hicks would score and that the sloppy play of the Indians’ infield would allow Todd Frazier to also score which gave the Yanks that extra insurance run.
During the bottom of the ninth inning, I kept my hands clasped as if I were praying even though I wasn’t. It just seemed like the natural thing to do. The game broadcast focused on a woman in the stands wearing Cleveland gear doing the same exact thing, only she was more than likely actually praying. She was probably asking her God to help out her team. She wanted her team to show some sign of life against the Yankees’ closer. She wanted her team to not fall in another elimination game. It didn’t work. At least not for her. But it did for me, even though I wasn’t actively asking for anything. The Yankees won.
After the last out was recorded and the Yankees celebrated on the field, my eyes began to water. I’m usually not the type of person to shed happy tears but there I was in my den, watching the Yankees congratulate each other on the grass at Progressive Field, and my cheeks were stained with tears.
And it was amusing because I’m one of those people who scoff at the mere mention of crying. I always believe that people who claim to be brought to tears by baseball are lying or, at the very least, exaggerating. Especially those people who say they are brought to tears nearly every single day. I’m not sure why I was so emotional but I think it was because I am proud of this team and what they have accomplished so far.
I went into Wednesday night’s game thinking, “I’ll be fine no matter what happens. Win or lose, they have done something incredible.” Well, it is not over yet. The 2017 Yankees have at least four more games to play and I couldn’t be happier about it. There will be more games to watch, more games to write about and dissect and hopefully more accomplishments to celebrate.
Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports