Secret admiration of Yankees strictly for entertainment purposes

October 10, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

IT ISN'T EASY dealing with this kind of guilt ... carrying around this dark secret ... so I'll just confess right now and get it over with.

I've been rooting for the Yankees.

I know it's wrong. Pulling for the Yankees around here is a little like voting Republican. Whatever you do, don't tell anybody about it. But I'm in the mood to bare my soul and the election is still three weeks away, so here goes.

The Yankees may be the big bad wolf of the American League and the Minnesota Twins might be the cute little engine that could, but I'm not particularly interested in the socio-economic implications of the small market/large market dichotomy right now. I just want to be entertained, and I'm guessing that I'm not alone.

The moment it became apparent that the Red Sox were going to roll over the Anaheim Angels to reach the American League Championship Series (I think it was in the third inning of Game 1), I packed away my ThunderStix and started rooting for a replay of one of the greatest playoff series in baseball history.

This rematch has been percolating since Aaron Boone launched his sudden-death home run in the 11th inning of the seventh game of last year's ALCS, which also included a beanball war, a bullpen brawl that left two Yankees facing criminal charges and a pitching decision that put Red Sox manager Grady Little out of work.

It'll be a tough act to follow, especially with Roger Clemens and Don Zimmer out of the picture, but I'll take my chances. I'm heading right out to stock up on Cheetos and diet soda.

The Angels didn't go down without a fight on Friday, but the way they lost Game 3 was slightly reminiscent of the pivotal game of their 1986 ALCS against the Red Sox.

I said slightly.

The Angels had a chance to win Game 5 of the dramatic 1986 series with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning, after Donnie Moore had given up that famous home run to Dave Henderson, but Doug DeCinces and Bobby Grich failed to bring home the winning run and the Red Sox went on to win in extra innings.

This time, Garret Anderson and Troy Glaus struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth and sent the game into extra innings. In both games, the score was 6-6 after nine, but the stakes were a lot higher in '86 when the Angels were one out (in the top of the ninth) and one sacrifice fly (in the bottom of the ninth) away from their first World Series.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had me scratching my head in Game 2 against the Yankees. He allowed young Jason Kubel (who played at Single-A Fort Myers last year) to bat against Mariano Rivera with one out and the go-ahead run at third. The kid was so overmatched he struck out on a couple of pitches that were almost over his head.

Turns out, Gardenhire didn't have another left-handed hitter to send up in Kubel's place, and Kubel had 11 hits in 25 at-bats with runners on base (.440) during the regular season. He still wasn't ready for prime time, going 0-for-6 and stranding five base runners.

The Angels claim they want disruptive outfielder Jose Guillen back next year, and Guillen claims he wants to return to the team in spite of the harsh disciplinary action he received for his Sept. 25 dugout tirade.

Don't believe it. Guillen won't play another game in an Angels uniform, not after a series of troublesome incidents during the course of the season that alienated his teammates and manager and impacted the team's postseason performance.

The final numbers are in from last weekend's Constellation Energy Classic at The Hayfields Country Club and it's obvious that the event was buoyed by the great job I did caddying for Bruce Fleisher in the Pro-Am.

The Champions Tour stop, which debuted here last year, drew 35,000 fans and raised $400,000 for local charities.

Final thought: There are two ways to look at the outcome of the Jamal Lewis drug conspiracy case - either he got off too easy because he is a famous athlete or he was singled out and overzealously prosecuted because he is a famous athlete.

Well, actually, there are three ways to look at it. If Jamal had my cellphone plan, the call never would have gotten through and he wouldn't have been in this mess in the first place.

Contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

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