ALCS Game 2: The Agony and the Ecstasy

October 13th, 2012 by Jane Heller

Actually, I should have worded it in reverse: The Ecstasy and the Agony.

First came Ibanez’s improbable homer in the bottom of the ninth and the reaction of my not-favorite-person Valverde.

I couldn’t believe Raul did it again. Could. Not. Believe. It.

But the ecstasy didn’t last. Not only could the Yankees not score any more runs, but – curiously – Girardi went to Phelps instead of using Robertson for another inning, and things unraveled quickly. I could go on about Swisher’s somersault in right, not to mention his failures at the plate along with Cano’s, or A-Rod getting pulled for Chavez when others were struggling even more, or how angry Pettitte looked when he came out of the game, but all I really care about right now is this.

Seeing Jeter go down felt like Mo all over again and, as it turns out, their situations aren’t dissimilar: Jeter’s fractured ankle means he’s done for the rest of the the season. It was so hard to watch him not get up, to cry out in pain, to lean on others to carry him off the field. I’m still sick about it as I type this.

But I remind myself that he had a brilliant year, and no broken ankle will take that away from him. The Yankees will carry on and do their best for their captain. That’s all we can ask for.

As for the media, they need to stop talking about Jeet as if he died. No more eulogies. Seriously.

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10 Responses to “ALCS Game 2: The Agony and the Ecstasy”

  1. Sean K says:

    AAAAAUUUGGGHHHHH!!!

    Captain… done for the year. AND we lose the game to boot.

    Well… hopefully everyone steps up and we get things going. We can start by winning Game 2.

  2. YankeeCase says:

    Jane, please help me. Please help all of us. I don’t know what to think right now. I really don’t. I don’t know what to feel. I don’t know how to make much sense of anything right now.

    I’ve avoided commenting on here for fear of somehow jinxing our team (yes, I’ve been quietly stalking all of you, reading in the dark…). I’ve avoided talking about the team, making predictions about the team, letting the haters talk all the smack they want, and just watching, staring intently at the screen even, just waiting for a victorious finish. But nothing makes sense. Watching the Tigers go up 4-0 while the Yankee bats did absolutely nothing just made me so mad. And it wasn’t just because of today’s game, but this entire postseason. And then, thinking further, not just the postseason, but this entire season so far! It’s been the same thing all year. Can’t hit with RISP, wait for the home run. I was so mad, SO MAD, I was thinking up the ways they’d make the last three outs of the ninth. “Yeah, go ahead and ground out. Or maybe you fly out deep to right and get everyone’s hopes up?” Ichiro hits his two run shot. “Too little, too late. So what? Who cares? It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t change things. A loss is still a loss, no matter the score.” Robbie strikes out. “Of course. Why wouldn’t he?” And even when IbaƱez hit the home run to tie the game I thought, “Why delay the inevitable? It’s so stupid that it has to come down to hitting home runs in the ninth inning just to have a chance!” It actually made me madder still, Jane!

    I was so mad. All I could think was of how undeserving we were, of how undeserving this team is of even being here. We somehow beat the Orioles, but I can’t help that it was more of how many times the two teams played against each other than anything else. The pitching has been outstanding for the Yankees. I wish the same could be said about our offense. But that would be the boldest of lies. Any other year you might say that it’s a great year if your team makes it to the League Championship Series. But I don’t know if I can say that. I don’t feel this team is lucky, just undeserving.

    And with all this team has gone through this year, that’s saying something. This has been one of the craziest seasons I can remember. Everyone here remembers 2005 when we made this amazing comeback to steal the division away from the Boston Red Sox in Fenway on the penultimate day of the season. It helped wash away some of the bad taste in our mouths left over from that season which will not be mentioned. And then 2007 we made another great comeback to take the Wild Card from an even further deficit. What makes this year so remarkable is that once we took first place in June, we never relinquished it. Not with all the injuries. Mariano, CC, A-Rod, Nova, Tex, Pineda (remember him?), D-Rob, Pettitte, Gardner… And the lack of clutch hitting. The lack of hitting overall! The battle with teams trying to take our spot in the Orioles and the Rays. And through it all, we made it. And I swear to you, I never doubted we would take first place at the very end and make it.

    But then, here tonight, I was so mad. I wanted to break things. I let myself be enraged, embarrassed even at our offense. So angry.

    And then Jeter gets hurt.

    What. The. Hell?

    What does anything even matter? What does it all mean? They’ve come all this way just to lose? Like this? I know it’s only 0-1, but I can’t help but feel like it’s all over! All from Jeter going down, and with the way the offense has totally embarrassed us. I’ve never been a great huge fan of A-Rod, but I’ve always been a big supporter of his. And with his recent struggles I’ve actually grown to root for him even more. But I just don’t know how much longer I can carry on. All I can think is that he is still struggling over that broken hand somehow. And what’s up with Granderson and Swisher? And Cano? It’s as if all they’re trying to do is swing for the fences and are completely missing!

    I took a drive at 3 in the morning out here just to try and collect my thoughts. (and, ok, I was a little hungry too) But I can’t compose much in my head. I can’t isolate what I’m feeling. I’m angry. Sad. Stunned. Dejected. Pained. Down. Worried. Anxious. Confused. Did I mention mad?? And still, even hopeful…

    There’s not much to go on, but there’s the tiniest glimmer of hope that somehow everyone will take on a renewed sense of responsibility after seeing their captain go down. Jeter has put this team on his back and willed them into the playoffs. The man had a busted foot and refused to be taken out of the lineup, hobbling, limping his way up the first base line, into the hole at shortstop, diving, sliding, jumping all over the place. The man is simply a warrior, and I’ve got new found respect for him, more than I thought was already possible. So now we’ll get to see who wants to step up and lead this team. Who’s going to do it for the captain? Who’s going to stop waving at bad pitches and actually hit the damn ball?

    I know that in the end it’s just a stupid game and we’re not supposed to care that much, not supposed to invest so much into it emotionally, but I, like everyone else here just can’t help but live and die with this team. Yeah, yeah, it’s just sports, and I love to follow my NY Knicks, and NY Giants, and NY Rangers as much as I do the Yankees. And I’m passionate about all my teams and have a certain level of emotional attachment, but the Yankees are something else altogether for me, and always will be. The other sports just don’t match up. I’ve been asked the hypothetical questions: “If you had to choose between a Knicks/Giants/Rangers championship or a Yankees World Series…” I don’t even let them finish, it’s hands down Yankees, every time. All the time. It’s who I am. I identify myself as a Yankee. (Well, not literally as if I was on the team. You know what I mean.) From before I can remember, I’ve been a fan. Hazy memories of watching the games with my father as a child are some of my fondest. I feel I was destined to be a fan before I was even born! Born and raised in the Bronx in the twilight of their last good championship runs of the late ’70s early ’80s (b. 1980, thank you!). And then having to watch that other team across town become winners. And then seeing our team become a joke in the late ’80s, early ’90s. And so it hurts not knowing what the hell is going on in my mind, or what I feel anywhere deep inside. It bothers me not knowing what is happening with this club. It pains me to feel that they don’t even deserve to be this far!

    But I’m going to still root for the home team. I want to be at that championship parade downtown again. I just can’t see it. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that means I can just relax, uncross my toes, and just watch. Here’s hoping, right?

    I’m sorry, I’ve completely ranted and raved on here, making a fool of myself. But I see this as a refuge, where I know others feel my pain. It’s hard not to want to write things out. There’s so much more in my head, but I can’t seem to filter it all out right now. I think I’ll just go bang my head against the wall until a) I put a hole in said wall, b) I knock myself out and pass out into a dark, warm fuzziness, or c) I make sense of things. Any of these outcomes is preferable to what’s going on right now, although ‘b’ is looking like the sure bet.

  3. Leo says:

    YankeeCase, don’t be embarrassed. As you said it, you are not alone in being a die hard fan that lives and dies and breathes the team. We all share your pain and we are all going through the same emotional roller coaster. But the beauty of it is when good times roll around, we all celebrate together and when struggles occur, we are all here to support each other and pick each other up. So do what you need to do to clear your head but know that we are all here to pick one another up. I don’t believe in any jinxes so please continue commenting and sharing your thoughts with your blog friends. We all appreciate your insight.

    As for the game, what else can be said? It’s been the epitome of RISP failures that have been far too common in the regular season. Some weren’t our fault (second inning awful call against Cano with bases loaded when he beat the throw and was called out) and others were (A-Rod striking out with Tex and Ibanez on third and second; Granderson and Martin striking out consecutively with the bases loaded). This offense is horrific at the moment and they need to turn it around. Pettitte deserved better. He pitched well enough to win. Let’s hope they do a better job with Kuroda on the mound later today and many of them step up now that we lost Jeter.

  4. Barbara says:

    Yankeecase, I know what you mean. I was so angry last night with 2nd and 3rd and no out and we didn’t score, I felt like throwing my iPad that I watching on. I am not usually like that but I felt so mad. I bizarrely feel bad for a rod too. i root for all sports but I would alway choose a Yankee win over all the other teams I root for. I feel like we are done. Kuroda on short rest, I assume is a loss and then it’s verlander. Dj gone feels like the last of too many injuries. Instead of feeling like we don’t diserve it, I think we are quite amazing that we made it this far with all the injuries and risp problems.
    Good thing Jorge isn’t around or he’d have a major injury too. Ouch.
    Got to love Raul.
    One last thought. I was just thinking we won’t lose sleep over tonight’s game because it’s at 4, but then I realized I often lose sleep, waking up and thinking about the pain in the middle of the night. It is kind of comforting to know I am not the only one who does that.

  5. Audrey says:

    YankeeCase said much of what I was feeling last night, including the embarassment and humiliation of our offense in bases-loaded situations. But this morning’s calmer self says we overcame incredible challenges to get where we are. We also, despite all the failures along the way, ended the season with the best record in the American League. At the beginning of the season sportswriters were saying this is the year of the pitcher and it has been, right into the playoffs. Despite having our own challenges there and at the plate, somehow we managed to grind it out and I believe we still can.

    I must admit I went to bed after the eighth inning last night. I’ve watched enough impossible comebacks this year to know one could happen, but I was falling asleep (I spent the afternoon raking leaves – tiring work!) and decided I could live with reading about it and catching highlights in the morning (I didn’t really believe it would happen either – Oh me of little faith!) So I was perplexed this morning when I checked my phone and saw a text from my California daughter that read “This game is awesome – can you imagine being at the stadium?” I kept checking the date – she must have been referring to Friday’s game, right? Sometimes my phone delivers texts hours or even days late. She can’t mean Saturday’s game, can she? So I went to the computer and saw the good and bad news about the comeback and the awful news about Jeter. My heart completely sank – not the Captain! No, not the Captain, the man who has gotten us here in the first place and keeps dragging the rest of the team along (Tex, Ibanez and Ichiro excepted). Not Jeter, too!

    There are two mindsets this team has to choose from now: “We weren’t meant to win this year, we can’t do this without Jeter, there’s always next year” or “Derek needs us to step it up now and honor his effort and commitment with another ring – let’s win it all for the Captain!” For the sake of all of us, but especially for the sake of the future Yankee teams, I hope they choose the latter. This is no longer about winning the World Series – this is about showing the kind of team character that establishes the 2012 Yankees as one of the greatest sports teams of all time.

  6. Jane Heller says:

    YankeeCase, I’ll direct my comment to you, because you’re clearly suffering the most. When I went on the road with the team in ’07 to write She-Fan, I was like you: living and dying with every loss, feeling so keenly all the emotions you mentioned instead of enjoying the game. And then, as you might remember from the book, I was on a complete high when the Yanks made it into the playoffs as the wild card after their dismal start to the season…followed by a complete meltdown when they lost to Cleveland in the division series. Remember how I sat at the Stadium after everyone left, sobbing my guts out? Something changed after that for me. I certainly wasn’t one of the beat writers that year; I was only along for the research. But I learned to have a bit of detachment the way they do. I learned that the players aren’t characters in a movie or a book but human beings. I learned that they’re entirely fallible – the same as we are only with a talent for baseball. I still suffer, don’t get me wrong, but not in the same way. I still get angry when they fail. I still get over-the-moon happy when they succeed. I still slept fitfully last night, but I wasn’t thinking about the RISP; I was thinking about Jeter. The sight of him going down was like a horror show for me. I hate to see anyone in pain, but his pain represented the Yankees’ pain. These guys want to win so badly, whether they show it or not. But you can’t always get what you want. Sometimes things don’t work out. It’s called life. It’s funny because there’s a chapter in my new caregiving book about how watching sports is a great escape for people, taking them away from their problems, particularly if there’s an illness in the family. Last night and other nights haven’t felt like an escape. But, just like with illnesses, support groups are extremely useful and I’m happy if this blog has provided one, in good times and bad. The Yankees might surprise us and beat Detroit. Or they might not rise above the struggles. Either way, you’ll be fine and they’ll be fine. Disappointment is part of the contract we sign when becoming a diehard fan, as is the right to watch parades in the canyon of heroes. It’s all good. xxoo

  7. Ladyjane303 says:

    All of you are amazing and expressed what so many of us are feeling much more eloquently than I ever could. Like Audrey said, let’s hope this shakes up the rest of the team to win this for the captain. I, for one, will make that my mantra for the next few days.

  8. Bob Cerv says:

    Didn’t want to get on and read anything. I’ve endured the worst two days of postseason baseball that I’ve ever suffered in 54 years of intense, season-long following. And that’s WITH a series-clinching win included.

    So exhausted from Friday. You know why. Not just a gripping Yankee victory. We in Washington experienced the worst 1-game collapse in BASEBALL HISTORY. Don’t even talk to me, Boston. We will be haunted forever, too. And I know that everyone reading this, except Ruth if she does, could care less. But I don’t blame you

    So exhausted, I could not literally stay awake for last night. It was only Game 1, after all. Gave up at 4-0, with all the awful non-hitting. Waking up, I could NOT believe it all, and that the Yankees endured something that is, in many ways, as bad or worse than the pitiful Nats. Now 2012 is truly over…let the goddam Tigers and GOD-DAMN Cardinals enjoy another World Series; in another 100 years, maybe they’ll catch up. I don’t care.

    My apologies for venting my bitterness. But Jane, you’ve put it all into such beautiful perspective. Thank you for your thoughtful and deep understanding. It’s the only effective salve for all of our psychic wounds today. You embarrass me in a good way with your motherly approach. Hopefully I can approach your level of wisdom and maturity about all this before I die. But obviously it will take just a little while longer yet.

  9. Freya says:

    I share everyone’s feelings and comments. I am a New Yorker who was really hoping the Nats would be in the World Series and I was shocked to wake up yesterday and find out about their loss. As for the Yankees – I turned off the game when Detroit scored the first two runs. I felt that if we couldn’t score in the first two innings when their pitcher didn’t have it together, we’d never score as he gained more control. I kept peekig at the score on my computer and when I saw that they were on the bottom of the ninth and losing 4-0 I decided to go to sleep. I was falling asleep when my sister and son called both called to tell me they tied it up. Still I decided to go to sleep. I just didn’t have agood feeling. The first thing I heard this morning was the news about Jeter, and that put everything in perspective. That news was much worse than the loss. So sad. Maybe we will do ok, but my heart isn’t in it right now.

  10. YankeeCase says:

    Heh… Just saw a note about the Yankees. Today will be the first playoff game they’ll play without Jeter or Mariano Rivera since Game 6 of the 1981 World Series. I was only 1, so I definitely can’t remember that far back. These two players are all I’ve known about Yankee success.

    Jane, everybody else, thanks for your words. Dave, sorry about your Nats. I was watching that game and just felt those crazy Redbirds wouldn’t go silently once down 6-0. What a crazy game.

    Jane, I know what you mean about having a certain level of detachment. I do feel I have that. We don’t win every year, so it’s impossible to always feel joyous at the end of the season. Yeah, I’m still probably down and a bit sullen after their season ends in a loss, but I accept it as a possibility always. I try to be objective about the reality of baseball so that I’m not stunned or shocked. And even still, there’s always something deep down that bothers me. I’m just that kind of person that needs to feel their emotions just to feel alive, no matter how much I try suppressing them.

    But this season was different in that they kept their hold of first place with everything that’s gone on. There’s the loss of Pineda, and we think, “Ok, maybe he wouldn’t have been that productive anyway. We’ll find a way.” And then Mariano goes down. And again, “This isn’t the end of the season. We have to keep it going.” And we did. So I want to believe we can do it again.

    I hope nobody took what I said the wrong way. I’m never embarrassed to call myself a Yankee fan. I go around town wearing my Yankee cap EVERYDAY, no matter the date, no matter the state, no matter what they’ve done recently. And yes, even in Boston after the 2004 season when I had to take a trip up there. I wear it proudly to announce to the world who I am. I just don’t like what I’ve seen from our offense.

    8 wins. 8 wins is all we need now. The team has certainly earned its way here. Deserving or not, I guess that’s up to each individual. So now we’ll see if this is a real team. We’ll see if the offense wants to do something about it. We’ve gotten this far and now all we need are 8 wins to win it all. It isn’t one person we need at this point, but the entire team.