Almost There

2010 Pretty In Pinstripes Challenge Tracker: Entry #5 – 4/10/10  Yankees @ Rays

I’m not generally a superstitious person, but when it comes to baseball, I’m a nutcase.
I always make fun of other teams’ superstitions such as Boston’s “Curse of The Bambino” or Chicago’s “Curse of The Billy Goat”, and even the Angels’ Rally Monkey. I seem to forget that I have my own superstitious rituals. I have certain colors I wear during games, and others I never wear because, whenever I do, the Yankees lose. I always listen to the same Metallica song on my iPod during the pre-game shows (Harvester Of Sorrow), and I believe that I have the power to jinx players. 
Which brings me to yesterday’s game.
Yesterday, CC Sabathia was four outs away from pitching a no-hitter. I don’t remember the last time I was this excited about an April game. While every Yankees game excites me, Yesterday’s excitement was completely different. 
I’ve seen four Yankees’ no-hitters in my lifetime (two of which were perfect games). I remember the magic of it all. It’s been eleven years since I saw the last Yankees’ no-hitter, and I was hoping to see one yesterday.
As soon as Sabathia retired everyone in the fourth inning, I began to think to myself “Wow, this could really happen“, but I refused to say it. So, I did what any baseball-obsessed fan would do: I sat in the same exact position throughout the game, and didn’t move a muscle except for my fingers as I typed. 
I was on the couch, with my legs folded underneath me, and my laptop on my lap. It was a very uncomfortable position to be sitting in, but I did not move an inch. I needed to go to the bathroom, my legs were numb, and my left knee was killing me from sitting in that position for over an hour, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to move and risk losing the no-hitter. 
Yes, I’m extremely superstitious when it comes to my Yankees.
My house phone rang several times, and I let the machine get it. My BlackBerry was going crazy with notifications, and I ignored them. I was hungry, thirsty, and very uncomfortable, but I didn’t leave the couch. I wanted everything to remain the same because maybe, just maybe, I was witnessing the fifth Yankees’ no-hitter of my lifetime.
Of course, I refused to even utter the words “no hitter”. I avoided it at all cost. One of my roommates walked into the living room in the sixth inning. She asked me why I was frozen and wouldn’t even move my head to look at her. I couldn’t answer her, because if I did, I’d have to explain that CC was pitching a no-hitter, and that would jinx him. So, instead, I completely ignored her. I didn’t say a word. She thought I was being rude, and got mad at me. I didn’t care. A Sabathia no-hitter is more important.
Then, in the bottom of the eighth inning, with two outs, my BlackBerry started going crazy with notifications. It was notifying me of new messages on BlackBerry Messenger. I tried to ignore it, but the messages were coming very quickly, and obviously from one person. I thought it could be my mother trying to reach me, and since I wasn’t answering any phone calls, it might have been an emergency. So, I picked up my BlackBerry to look at the messages. As soon as I did that, Kelly Shoppach got a hit off of CC Sabathia. The message wasn’t an emergency, it was just my friend from New York saying “Are you watching? Sabathia is pitching a no hitter!”. Oh, the irony.
I’m usually a fan of ironic situations, but I was not happy yesterday. I threw my BlackBerry across the room (for the third time so far this season) and I was angry. I was angry at Shoppach for getting the hit (because, really, when a pitcher is pitching a no-hitter into the eighth, and your team is losing by ten runs, you should have enough courtesy to not swing at anything). I was angry at my friend for messaging me the words “no hitter“, when he knew that it would jinx Sabathia. Most of all, I was angry at myself for picking up my phone and reading the messages. I should have waited until the end of the game or, at the very least, for the final out of the inning.
In my mind, I jinxed CC, and nothing could convince me otherwise. So, yes, I was incredibly angry.
Nevertheless, yesterday’s game was unbelievable.
Even though the no-hitter was broken up by Shoppach (for whom I made several death wishes), the game blew me away.
CC Sabathia was in “The Zone”, and I was in that zone with him. He was so focused, it was like he was in another world. A world in which only he, the ball, Cervelli, and I existed. Yes, I felt as though I was right there with him. He had excellent command of his pitches, kept his count down, and retired batter after batter. I’ve never seen anything like it from Sabathia. It was absolutely magical. 
My heart told me that the magic of his performance would be rewarded with a no-hitter. My heart was wrong, as it usually is.
What also blew me away was our defense, especially our “golden” infield. I knew our in
field was incredibly solid, but they were on fire yesterday. The plays we saw from them were unbelievable. Mark Teixeira showed his elite athleticism, Robinson Cano made some excellent plays, Derek Jeter had “mad hops” as always, and nothing was getting past Alex Rodriguez. Yesterday, they were extraordinary, even on their own standards. They wanted the no-hitter for Sabathia. They wanted it as much as he did.
I left Francisco Cervelli out, because I wanted to mention him on his own. He was amazing yesterday. He nearly caught a no-hitter in his first April in the major leagues! The chemistry between Sabathia and Cervelli was strong. Dare I say he caught Sabathia better than Posada has? I especially loved his frequent outbursts of emotion. You could tell Cervelli wanted it. He wanted it, bad. While CC seemed to be as calm as I’ve ever seen him, Franky was emotional enough for the both of them. Fist pumps, cheers, and high-fives came frequently from Cervelli in yesterday’s game. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
The no-hitter just wasn’t meant to be. The game was still one of the most magical games I’ve seen in a while. Not only did it show Sabathia’s dominance in pitching, and our fielders’ strengths defensively, but it also showed that we have a team that is glued together strongly. From the coaches to the players, the entire team stood together to try and give Sabathia the first no-hitter of his career.
Joe Girardi and Dave Eiland both said that they wouldn’t have left Sabathia in the game after the eighth inning, even if he was still pitching the no-no. I don’t believe that for one minute. I saw Joe Girardi in the dugout while CC was dealing, he hardly moved a muscle. He wanted it, too. We will never know for certain what the skipper would have done, and I’m sure the media and the fans will be discussing it for a while, but I saw the look in Joe Girardi’s eyes during the game. He wanted the no-no for CC Sabathia.
The no-hitter didn’t happen, but I believe that our players bonded even more in yesterday’s game. They gave the game 300% of their effort. They showed the urgency of a playoff game with their defensive plays. That wasn’t just to get a win, a large part of it was to give our ace a well-deserved no-hitter. 
Sadly, it didn’t happen. Our wishes didn’t come true, but years from now, we will still remember the game when CC Sabathia was almost there.

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