Friday, May 22, 2009

Game 42: Once

The final series of the homestand begins tonight against the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. In the 127 seasons of Phillies baseball this only the second time they could be referred to as such. That's nuts.

This marks Philly's first visit to the Bronx since July 2000, a series during which a soon-to-be-traded big mouth, with a son named Gehrig no less, told anyone who would listen how much he'd love to play for the Yankees. Funny how no one remembers that anymore.

A.J. Burnett gets the ball for the Yankees. Just as they did in his first three starts this year, the team will need innings from Burnett tonight in order to spare a fatigued bullpen. Burnett came up big in those three starts, all Yankee victories, before turning in four clunkers in a row. He did better in his start last Sunday (6 BBs notwithstanding), and will look to build on that tonight. To do so, he'll need to keep Philly sluggers Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Raul Ibanez out of the right field stands. Burnett will be opposed by former wife-beater Brett Myers.

Johnny Damon returns to the line-up after a night off to rest a sore neck. Brian Bruney is unavailable, Albaladejo has been optioned out, and Chien-Ming Wang will be in the bullpen as the long man. With that, here's the bullpen situation tonight:

  • Albaladejo: Optioned out
  • Aceves: Out tonight, likely tomorrow as well
  • Bruney: Ditto
  • Veras: 1.2 IP last night. May be available tonight
  • Rivera: 2.1 IP over two days. May be available tonight
  • Coke: Available I assume. Held out last night after taking a liner off the arm Wednesday
  • Wang: Available to make his 4th professional relief appearance
  • Tomko: Available (but do you really want to see him?)

We've been lucky the past three days picking songs that focus on the next number in the winning streak. The problem is the further we go with that, the more tenuous the connection becomes between the song and the game. But you gotta be superstitious during a hot streak and I'll be damned if I'm going to be the one to jinx this. So bear with me. Today we're going to stretch things a bit further, focusing on the album name rather than the lyrics or the song title.

We'll go with Once, the opening track from Pearl Jam's seminal debut album, Ten. Pearl Jam was the first band that I really got into. It's hard to believe that this summer will mark 18 years since Ten was released. It's not hard to believe that Pearl Jam kicks as much ass today as they did then.

Once is a song about a guy going insane to the point of becoming a serial killer. That doesn't have a helluva lot to do with the Yankees, but the inconsistent play earlier this year certainly was maddening. And there were more than a few people out there who were ready to lose their marbles over it. Once upon a time it seemed this team could do no right. That's all a distant memory right now; winning has a way of doing that.

So that's your loosely-founded connection today. Believe it if you need it, or leave it if you dare. At the very least this video will give you a jump start for your Memorial Day Weekend. It was shot four days before Ten was released.

Once upon a time I could lose myself....

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