Ausanio: "Honestly, I thought they were joking." ... Joe Torre ("I'm not sure if that's the answer because they're not all the same.") and Don Mattingly ("It's not going to be the same as Wakefield, but who knows.") were somewhat skeptical of the idea. Because they pitched together, Ausanio says, "I know exactly how he grips it and I can emulate his delivery."
This afternoon is a rematch of September 11, when Wakefield struck out a career-high 12 batters, but New York won 1-0.
David Wells on the small strike zone in the first inning last night: "The first walk [to Alex Rodriguez], I thought I threw a strike there, but I didn't say anything. The last thing I need right now is an argument with an umpire." ... Which reminds me -- Wells argued balls and strikes with umpires in July, was ejected and given a six-game suspension. Today's starter, Randy Johnson, argued balls and strikes with umpires on September 16, was ejected and given ... nothing.
Kevin Youkilis could play today if needed. Francona: "Third base might be a stretch. I think hitting is the main thing." ... Wade Boggs, honored by the Red Sox before last night's game: "My God. What are the headlines going to be like on Monday if the Yankees don't make the playoffs?"
Ortiz: "New season. These two teams have a lot of history. But history's been changing lately. ... Whoever feels pressure right now is in trouble. We're not feeling pressure right now. I'm telling you."
David is the best clutch hitter I've ever seen. He's the best I've ever seen in my now-long career. The best. That's why I say, that's your MVP, when you see something like [Ortiz's heroics Thursday]. Because of how much he's done that. ... You don't want to pitch David in a tight game. That's how you feel if you're on the other side. I don't want to see David come up.Mike Vaccaro, New York Post:
He's making it easier and easier for the voters at home, simplifying what should be a complex argument. Look, there's little doubt that Alex Rodriguez is a better baseball player than David Ortiz, because there may not be one or two other players on the planet who even belong in the same comparative sentence with him.Tim Wakefield / The Big Eunuch at 1:20.
But the truth is, in these waning days of the season, Rodriguez is running like Thomas Dewey and Ortiz is coming on like Harry Truman, making converts by the truckloads, making one compelling argument after another.
And when the candidates met at last at Fenway Park last night, it was a re-run of the Nixon-Kennedy debates. Rodriguez seemed to sweat and wilt and melt under the hot glare of the spotlight; Ortiz seemed to shine only brighter.
Rodriguez walked in the first, skied to deep center field twice, then took a dreadful strike three on a pitch that practically bisected the plate in the seventh inning, halting the last burst of Yankees momentum after Derek Jeter had crushed one into the bullpen in right field, cutting a four-run Red Sox lead in half, to 5-3.
Oh, yes: there was also the Johnny Damon ground ball that slid through Rodriguez' legs in the third. That was for all the propaganda readers had read about how much more valuable Rodriguez is because of his mitt, no doubt. Ortiz? Amid thunderous chants of "M! V! P!" he shrugged his shoulders and stroked a first-inning RBI single that tied the game at 1-1, and he spent the rest of the game vaguely terrifying whoever was on the mound. It's what he does. He spends most of his time trotting, either down to first or all the way around the bases. Not much need for footspeed when you do more trotting than the ponies at the Meadowlands."