Saturday, April 24, 2004

A New Timo In Town

On Easter Sunday, Bubba Mania began--and ended--in the Bronx. yanks' rookie outfielder Bubba Crosby hit a long home run, for the second day in a row (I think), and made a great catch as well. The home crowd caught Bubba Mania that day. Sterling and Steiner couldn't say it enough: Bubba this, Bubba that. Bubba, Bubba, Bubba. It was another yankee miracle.

But I saw through it all. I noticed it right away: Timo Perez Syndrome.

Timo Perez came out of the minors late in 2000 for the Mets. He gave the team immediate results, and was the toast of---Flushing. As World Series time rolled around, though, and it came to be that the Mets would be playing the yankees, I knew there would be trouble. I tried to avoid the Series entirely, but I definitely was rooting AGAINST the yankees. Which meant that I was rooting for the Mets. So I begged Bobby Valentine (mentally), "Please, Bobby, go with your veterans, have Timo on the bench, and use him as a pinch hitter. You can't go in to the World Series with a rookie starting in center field. He won't be able to handle it, Bobby! Please!" But Bobby, who I always thought was on mind-altering drugs while managing anyway, went with the hot rookie.

Of course, it backfired, with Timo not running out a ball because he thought it was a homer, and the whole thing went downhill from there. And TPS was born.

So on that day when we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus by telling our children that a giant bunny rabbit left chocolate eggs in the night, to quote Bill Hicks, while Steiner and Sterling were setting the record for most times saying "Bubba" in one broadcast, I explained to my fiance the concept of TPS as we drove to my folks' house.

"Don't worry, you'll see," I said. "Torre's gonna think his worries are over, but this Bubba guy'll crash and burn."

I don't think she was listening.

But the point is, tonight, I watched the first game of the Sox-yanks series in the Bronx, and Bubba came through big time.

The first Bubba blunder was when he caught a deep fly, and, instead of throwing to the cut off man, Jeter, who was waving his arms, for a play at second, Bubba decides he's gonna get the guy going from second to third. The problem was, he had no chance, because there was no cut-off man over there. So Bubba puts everything he's got into it, and even falls to the ground after the throw, Chad Curtis-style. And the ball flew, for a little while, and then rolled. And rolled. And almost DIED before it reached the infield.

Damon was safe at third by a month, and this throw, which looked like a tee shot by a nine year old golfer (not just because of the distance, but also because there was nobody anywhere near where the ball landed and rolled), allowed Ortiz to go from first to second.

Then later, there was a high fly ball to center. Bubba went back nervously, turned around a few times, fell to the ground, got halfway up, then dove desperately, as the ball landed a few feet away. This play, which allowed two runs to score, came moments after Michael Kay said that the yanks better not allow any more runs if they want to have a chance to come back (as it was 7-0 at the time).

Timo, I mean Bubba, also almost fell while chasing a ball to the wall. It woulda been really funny to see him AND the ball rolling to the wall.

And at the plate, he was an 0-fer. In his last at bat, he was robbed of a hit by Pokey, capping off a Bubbalicious night for Sox fans.

Now I know this kid could turn out to beat the Red Sox at some point. He could even become a Hall-Of-Famer, for all I know. But the key is, after tonight's game, there's less of a chance we'll ever find out.

Magic Number to beat the yanks thru 4/23: 144.


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Location: Rhode Island, United States