Monday, May 25, 2009

Game 45: Memories Live

First and foremost, it is Memorial Day. Although I know we all understand what the day signifies, it must be noted as we barbecue, sit on the beach, play golf, throw lawn darts or otherwise, that this holiday honors those who gave their lives for the country. Or rather, had their lives taken from them. These weren't Kamikaze pilots or suicide bombers. They were mostly people my age or younger who had previously assumed they were coming home. No one ever thinks it's going to happen to them. I'm guessing there are some active military members in our readership, perhaps some who are deployed overseas. Much respect to you folks as well. 


It's also sort of fitting that today, Phil Hughes makes his first return to the Ballpark at Arlington, the scene of Yankees' fans fondest memory of the youngster. We refer back to it as Hughes' high point, although we've already seen the heartbreaking ending. The date was May 1st, 2007, and the highly touted 20 year old rookie was making his second ever Major League start. In his first, he gave up four runs in 4 1/3 IP but struck out 5, giving fans brief glimpses of his nasty curveball and reason to be optimistic.

I still remember this game quite vividly. Well, Hughes' halves of the innings anyway. He was finding Jorge Posada's glove with nearly every pitch, when he didn't Posada would stand up and attempt to reassure Phil as he threw the ball back. 

Hughes issued three walks that night, but erased two of them with double plays. He had faced only one batter over the minimum once he retired Michael Young to start the seventh inning. He got ahead on future teammate Mark Teixeira 0-2 when it happened. Hughes awkwardly rolled his ankle and came up clutching his left hamstring and was immediately taken off the mound, no-hitter still intact.

I remember watching it and thinking it was basically the worst thing that could have occurred within the context of the game. It wasn't the injury that bothered me so much, although that was certainly disheartening. I just wished he had given up a hit or not. The game was left in suspended animation and we were all left to ponder "what if". It was like the ending to the Sopranos before David Chase told us all to fuck ourselves in cinematic form. 

Part of what's great about watching sports is that we get definitive answers. I don't watch sports whose games end in ties. The Yankees were already up 9-0, so we knew what the outcome of the contest was going to be. Since about the fourth or fifth inning, the only question left to be determined was whether Hughes could complete the no-hitter. 

It's been over two years, and thanks to guys like Clay Buchholz and Anibal Sanchez, we know that early no-hitters aren't surefire indicators of impending Major League success. That night though, it wouldn't have mattered. 

In my lifetime, ain't too many things better,
than watching your first son put his sentences together,
Yo, it kinda make me think of way back when,
I was the portrait of the artist as a young man.


  1. David Chase didn't tell anyone to fuck themselves. Tony died. It's painfully obvious. But thanks for answering that buring question: "How do Yankees fans feel about the ending of the Sopranos?"

  2. Well, you see, he didn't die. Because if he did, Chase would have actually... you know... showed him dying.

    It's not obvious, it's ambiguous. He left it open ended so people could make their own determination, which is annoying because after watching six seasons of the show, I think most viewers would have preferred a definitive answer one way or another. Sort of like how after watching Phil Hughes throw six innings of a no hitter, you would have preferred to see it reach some kind of conclusion on the field, not just fade to black.