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The Summer Game

One of the biggest sins of realignment is that it separated us from the Cubs, for years one of our best rivals. One of the biggest virtues of baseball is that every summer brings a game like today's — a tense, back-and-forth Wrigley Field affair under blazing skies before a packed house. Sometimes they end badly, whether it's Sammy Sosa beating John Franco or a Paul Wilson gem turning into a cubic zirconia or Derrek Lee victimizing Heath Bell. (Not all summer affairs played in sunny weather, but you get the idea.) But sometimes they don't. Sometimes you get a hugely entertaining, walk-on-air win [1] that leaves you with absolutely no doubt about why Ernie Banks wanted to play two.

I'm not sure a lot of us expected to get a win out of this game, particularly not the way Carlos Zambrano was throwing. But El Duque was just as good — the eephus pitch he dropped on old friend Cliff Floyd was a treasure, and I enjoyed his long-legged origami exit over the dugout railing after one inning. (Duque! You're like 52 years old! Use the stairs!) After Ramon's stand-up-and-shout bolt into the left-field seats (Is Lo Duca hearing thunderous footsteps yet?), somehow I knew we were going to win. The boys looked like they'd dialed up the intensity for Zambrano, and they kept it up after his departure, working counts and finding the pitches they needed. (Incidentally, I don't mind Zambrano's histrionics, as long as he saves his roars and fist pumps for the close of innings.)

I loved the shot of Billy Wagner's cooler-than-cool reaction to Delgado's double scything down the line past him; I loved the shot of Wright scoring and pumping his fist more. Though the ensuing two-out peppering of Ryan Dempster was nice, too, interspersed with shots of Lou Piniella telekinetically setting things on fire in the Cub dugout. And then the fatal double play hit into by Jacque Jones — is there anything crueller in baseball than watching the enemy shortstop slicing across the second-base bag, ball in hand, and knowing your chance has gone? Cruel when it's your team's hopes being snuffed out, of course — when you're on the shortstop's side, well … let's play two!

P.S. From the Schadenfreude Department, it was hard to beat this sentence from yesterday: Clemens was booed off the mound after he allowed eight runs and nine hits in 1 2-3 innings. I mean, read that again and see if you don't start to drift off to a happy place. I'm only surprised the sound didn't transform him into a cloud of sulphurous steam that then dissipated wanly, Sauron-style, over the rooftops of the Bronx.

Oh, and this Dugout [2] is the best summation of Yankee fans I've ever read. My goodness I love baseball.