This is going to be a story about my favorite tweet of the year.
But first, the buildup. It started out like any other day, really. Cloudy, a bit humid, 46,000 people crammed into an open-air shopping mall with seats. A cathedral of the least oppressed singing hymns to a god of payroll flexibility and unashamed navel gazing. The strangest inferiority complex in all of professional sports. That bastard, Robinson Cano.
Pineda didn't even get a chance to remind the Mariners what diabolical looks like before running into trouble, though. And as he chucked a 94-mph fastball up there, belt high to the single greatest enemy of the city of New York City, he was immediately reminded why he *still* shouldn't be doing that:
For Robbie, it was like coming home. There was a giant avatar of his upper body in that spot where it always used to sit, his pixelated face staring back all but daring for a swing for the fences. There was that eight-square-inch-box of air where he has hit more dingers than anywhere else on the planet. And although they were directed at him this time, there were the boos, oh the boos. There are always boos in New York City.
Cano's dinger cleared the centerfield wall--a legitimate shot anywhere not named Minute Maid Park--and gave the Mariners a quick 2-0 lead. Which was great news, because Michael Pineda had already been worth 3.1 wins this season, had only walked fifteen people all season, and all the while watched as his ground ball rate increased by more than ten percent. You can bet your ass he was relishing a chance to remind his former ballclub why they were idiots to let him go, but I for one think Lloyd actually did the right thing by keeping Jesus Montero off the field and on the dugout rail, staring back into Pineda as if to say They don't even care anymore. See me down here? They don't even care, buddy. That's some serious managing there, folks.
Truth to tell, though, it was a pretty rough day for Pineda out there. He didn't earn his first strikeout until getting to the end of the order in Mike Zunino in the second inning, and haha, well I don't even need to finish that thought, now do I? Meanwhile, Hisashi Iwakuma picked up right where he left off last time, not giving up a hit until Chase Headley bopped a sinker that juuuuuust didn't sink into centerfield in order to reach base. He would be only one of three Yankees hitters to do such a thing until the sixth inning, due in part to things like this:
What is this, even? Legal? We all know that Iwakuma has pretty gnarly command, but when you can throw two pitches over ten MPH apart in the same corner of the top of the zone, then you can also ask someone for twenty million dollars and they will just give it to you. How fucked up is that?
Kuma wound up running into a bit of trouble in the fourth inning after suffering through a six-pitch at bat to Mark Texiera with a corner ball that very well could have ended the at-bat rather than put a man on. Up to the plate walked Brian McCann, who then put a baseball very far over the fence, so far that it also, like Cano's, wasn't a gimme dinger. Alongside our awareness of Iwakuma's command skills, we are also sadly aware of this problem to hang things out to dry now and then, leading to an HR/FB rate of 27% on the season. And yet, here's what McCann hit to tie the game at two this afternoon:
It's right in his hot spot, and if you watch the video, you can see Zunino trying to set Kuma up a good foot-and-a-half lower than where he ended up. And yet there he was, still painting the corner of the zone like Blake Beavan could only dream of doing. It was a classic Iwakuma mistake which we just need to accept as a part of his game, a likely outcome that shouldn't be too frightening considering how effective he can be when he's on. I'm sure most of us have, because that's just what you do when life presents a dilemma whose outcome offers no opportunity by which it can be ameliorated.
Not these jersey-burning Yankees fans, though. No, because even though Cano did to them what their franchise has done to just about every other fanbase in the country, they are still showering those boos down much in the same way we used to shower monopoly money down on A-Rod. I mean grow up, right? Sure, I realize this might make it sound like we are just as bad as Yankees fans, and that it could be irresponsible to broadly categorize any group of people based on the behavior of a particular subset of said group, but listen I chose my narrative and I'm sticking with it, god dammit.
That's because in the sixth inning there were a whole bunch more boos, and I have to imagine that Kyle Seager could hear them very well from his spot standing on first base. Then, suddenly, the boos got a whole hell of a lot louder. Kyle probably looked around, wondering if, say, a drunken fan was being booed for being an asshole to some little kid, or if he missed a Idiot on the Field being tackled to the ground by the fun police. He continued to search, but that's only because he probably didn't see where the baseball landed after it was touched by the bat which had been held by the source of those boos.
In fact, the whole affair probably confused the hell out of ROOT's camera operators too, or at least the guy running the show in the truck because suddenly his monitor was showing him this image:
FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, CHRIS, the line producer probably shouted, knowing that there was absolutely no reason for a camera to be pointed this high in the air while the Seattle Mariners were trying to hit baseballs. Except this time it was Chris who was right. A fine day, indeed.
Then some guy in plaid shorts threw the ball back, and the crowd responded with cheers even louder than what was given to McCann after his moonshot in the fourth inning. And then, just then, ESPN NBA writer Mike Mazzeo fired off a For Whom The Bell Tolls of tweet sequences, speaking at once for himself and for each of the 46,119 agonized onlookers forced by nature, or fate, or whatever it was, to be locked in that stadium while watching someone else succeed for once. First, from the opening inning of the game:
Robinson Cano, booed pretty vociferously, cranks a two-run home run to straightaway center. More boos. #Yankees— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) July 18, 2015
and then, at this moment:
The Mariners won this one, 4-3 after Carson Smith nearly Rodney'd the ninth and I'm not going to write about that because I want to actually feel happy about the Mariners for once this season. They have a shot to win the series and head to Detroit for the most important stretch of baseball they have perhaps played in the past ten years. That might be hyperbole, but if you want to complain, please know that I accept all forms of payment, cash, card, and boos.
But if you boo, please boo more. More boos. Always, always, always more boos.