Isn't great when something lives up to expectations?
We got an old-fashioned pitcher's duel. It was classic power pitcher versus the junk baller. The ballgame was knotted up 2-2 for three and one-half innings.
Clemens returned to Fenway for win 299.
Two Hall-of-Famers were in the broadcast booth, though it was clear throughout which one earned his plaque for actually broadcasting.
And Bucky Dent in those Green Monster seats! (My reaction to those seats is similar to Gowdy's: it just seems wrong not to have the net above Lansdowne Street. When I lived in Boston, if I was around BU on a game night, I would walk over from Mass Ave and just take a peek through the net into the stadium. It was a bit like Rudy, in the movie of the same title, not being able to get tickets to a Notre Dame football game. Though it did give one a feeling of being a kid in a Norman Rockwell painting looking through a knothole in an outfield fence and there was always tons of activity outside the park. If I went to a game in Boston, I would probably try to get those seats, but I just don't want them to exist otherwise. Cognitive dissonance is a wonderful hobby.)
Watching Clemens give up nine hits in six innings, I still felt that he would find a way to win. Wakefield got 13 Yankees in a row and looked like he was in complete control, but in the end it was Clemens. So he got number 299 in his long-time home and will go for 300 on Monday (with myself in attendance) in his new home, Yankee Stadium (barring injury). Of course, he will be facing the Sox in both games. It's good to be the king.
But Clemens got this win by the skin of his teeth. He had been hit on his pitching hand by a Bill Mueller line drive with two out in the sixth. He had enough left to strike out Doug Mirabelli (not that that requires all that much), but left with the ballgame tied and his Yankees hitless for three and two-thirds. With two outs in the seventh the Yankees rallied on a Mondesi single that plated Posada to give the Yankees the lead that would eventually lead to the Clemens win.
The rest of the game was full of all sorts of interesting plays. First, Alfonso Soriano made a heads-up baserunning play, going from first to third on a Jeter chopper to the right side that Todd Walker nonchalanted to first. He was stranded there however.
Rivera relieved with two outs in the eighth and without a throw home picked pinch-runner Damian Jackson off of first.
Then, Posada scored an insurance run in the ninth on a nice slap double the other way by Ventura. Posada scored standing up and apparently did so to block the throw to the catcher. He then plopped himself down prone on the ground.
The bottom of the ninth had a bit of excitement, too. Completely out of character, Bernie Williams flat out dropped a deep but soft fly ball by Shea Hillenbrand to lead the inning off. Bill Mueller his a slicing liner that just landed foul down the left field line (and easy double if fair). Mueller, batting left-handed, then grounded out to short, which prevented the runner from advancing. Pinch-hitter Jeremy Giambi was then robbed by Hideki Matsui with a diving catch in left. Finally Johnny Damon grounded out to end the game.
Curt Gowdy, like many of the broadcasters who started in radio, knows how to bring the game alive. He describes and informs without inserting himself into the game. He's like having a good friend at the game talking baseball with you. It's the sort of broadcast that I grew up to with Hall-of-Famers Harry Kalas and Whitey Ashburn. It seems to be becoming a lost art form.
Gowdy mentioned Dick Radatz (whom he dubbed the "Monster"), Hoyt Wilhelm, Wilbur Wood, Gus Triandos. There was even mention of the Phils' Tommy Hutton (who wore #14 for the Phils before Pete Rose did) and how he owned Tom Seaver.