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November 8 2000 : The Season In Verse

I was doing some reading recently about the great baseball writers of the past like Grantland Rice and Ring Lardner, who were known to write epic verse in their coverage of the game from time to time. This inspired me to write a poetic rendition of the New York Yankees 2000 Season, I call:
The Year of Injuries

It started in the springtime, the Year of Injuries,
with both veterans and rookies suffering maladies.
Nick Johnson hurt his wrist and spent the year off track–
Yarnall, Pettitte and El Duque had spasms of the back.
Pettitte’s came while dodging a bat that had cracked–
Remember now who hit it? David Justice hacked.

Tim Raines returned from lupus to try to make the roster,
and Tom Pagnozzi gave a try at the job of backup catcher.
But by the end of March, both men had gone their way,
and the spring home run leader was young Ricky Ledee:
The first homerun from Enron Field did Ledee let fly,
off a pitcher named Doc Gooden, who we’ll see this July.

The Yankees opening day line up didn’t last two days
when Brosius was disabled with a pulled rib cage.
When pitching coach Mel Stottlemeyer delivered his bad news,
the rains came down, and the home opener was moved.
Knoblauch hurt his wrist, and David Cone struggled,
and blue chip Soriano went in the field and juggled.

But Jorge and Bernie were so hot they both homered
from both sides of the plate one day to set a new record.
Paul O’Neill was on fire, especially against lefties
and the team got a lot of innings out of Jason Grimsley.
El Duque and Jeff Nelson, shared a special honor, though–
They both went 4-0 in April, putting them even with Pedro.

In May, Mendoza blossomed with an almost perfect game,
but Derek Jeter went on the shelf with an abdominal strain.
The Yanks got beat by a rookie named Paul Rigdon,
Roberto Kelly was out for the year, and Felix Jose came in.
He went two for two before coming out with a groin pain,
Chuck’s wrist got worse and then it was a forearm sprain.

Mariano sat idle for twenty five whole days,
while the Tigers swept our Yanks, and the Red Sox took first place.
David Cone moved himself to the left side of the rubber.
But even with the problems the Yanks put up some numbers.
Like Roger’s win two-fifty, Paulie’s Yankee game 999,
and Bernie Williams led the league that month with RBIs.

By the end of the month Chris Turner had come to join the crew
and Andy Pettitte seemed to have found his groove.
Jeter took a private jet to get back in time to play
the Red Sox in a pitcher’s duel that featured twenty K’s.
Pedro and the Rocket faced off that night on ESPN
with Roger’s only problem, a homer by Trot Nixon.

In June Brosius returned, his first game going four for four,
while Jason Grimsley won his third emergency start.
The ups and downs continued, Westbrook had a cup of coffee,
And Cone no-hit the Mets, before rain called the game off–eek.
Ben Ford put in one good start before he too began to fail
so old Doc Gooden was put upon the minor league trail.

Chuck Knoblauch’s elbow took another beating
and three errors one game had him retreating.
The White Sox came in and blew off our doors
but we went into Boston and put 22 runs on the board.
Sosa or Gonzalez? Trade rumors gave Torre fits.
We said hello to Vizcaino and goodbye to Jimmy Leyritz.

In July we learned El Duque’s elbow would be okay,
and Justice came to town, at the cost of Ricky Ledee.
We lost Ramiro and Allen Watson, making room in the pen
for some bright rookies named Choate and Dingman.
Yarnall had a shot, but promptly fizzled,
so Denny Neagle came on board with his train whistle.

The injuries continued as Shane Spencer was next to fall,
and Chuck got hit with a liner, would he finally go on the DL?
Guru Billy Connors helped to make Doc Gooden better,
the pitcher beat the Mets in half of a historic double header.
Cone was shipped to Tampa to be Connors next duty,
meanwhile Derek Jeter became the All Star MVP.

Clemens beaned Piazza, Neagle won two in a row,
Gooden won his first three starts, things were starting to go.
Ryan Thompson was un-retired, the OF slot to fill,
and Brian Cashman was busy, signing Glenallen Hill.
The slugger hit a homer on his first Yankee swing,
and then a grand slam his next time pinch-hitting.

In August Hill’s eleven homers amazed even Joe,
who was even more amazed to find he also had Canseco.
Luis Polonia came a third time to the Bronx.
And old pal Luis Sojo found himself in the mix,
when Knoblauch went to Tampa, on the DL at last.
Knobby’s knee then got whacked while he was in rehab!

Watson came back briefly, and Choate got sent down,
but no sooner had he got down there, he had to turn around.
Watson’s season ended, and Choate was recalled,
but Paul O’Neill’s hot season was suddenly in free fall.
He was next on the shelf, and Bernie got hurt one night.
One day Bellinger was in center and Scott Brosius played in right!

Clay filled in for Bernie and had a hitting streak,
and Coney saw his first win since April, what a relief.
Seven starts in a row ended in victory for Pettitte,
But our precious bullpen would be the next to get it.
Jeff and Mike stumbled badly, and Mo looked all too human,
and Choate walked in a run and thought he’d never pitch again.

Still the Yankees hit September leading the East by five,
who would have thought they would take a dive?
Hope sprang eternal with the new offense explosion,
even with Cone’s shoulder and Mendoza gone for the season.
The expanded roster brought up some bright young guys,
and Bernie Williams set a new bests for his home runs and RBIs.

Bernie warmed the bench some more and Paulie limped around.
But miraculously, the Yanks swept the Sox in Beantown.
Rocket pitched a shut out and Randy Keisler notched a win,
Brosius homered off Pedro, and the Red Sox were done in.
The only thing that made the entire dugout worry,
was the line drive that smashed pitcher Bruce Florie.

At the Pettitte/Wells face off there was excitement a-plenty,
Andy wanted 100 wins, Boomer a year with twenty.
No decision came for either of the starting two,
though both reached their goal before the season was through.
The Yankees looked as if they’d run out of gas,
they clinched it only when Boston fell on their grass.

The small market A’s were as loose as a frat party–
in the ALDS, the Yankees couldn’t seem to get started.
In Game One Torre gave the ball to the Rocket,
but the A’s were pesky, and scored five to top it.
To shake up the offense and find an advantage,
Joe sat down Chuck and let Hill do some damage.

Thanks goodness Pettitte stopped the team’s fall,
tossing almost eight innings of shut out ball.
Game Two’s only moment of potential trouble:
With a man on second, Luis took a tumble.
The hilarious pratfall did not hurt the score,
and lightened the mood for the Yankees, for sure.

In Game Three, El Duque kept up his postseason streak,
And another win the Yanks managed to squeak.
Up two games to one, the Yanks wanted to win
and they gave the ball to Roger again.
But on three days rest, the Rocket was trounced,
so back to Oakland both teams bounced.

Knoblauch lead off that deciding game five,
And connected, first pitch, for a streaking line drive.
The six run rally that he ignited
would be enough to get the Yankee ship righted.
Oakland fought hard, and Andy had one shakey start,
but the bullpen is what broke Art Howe’s heart.

So on came Seattle, for the A-L-C-S,
with hitters like A-rod and Edgar Martinez.
Neagle was rested and answered the call,
earning only two runs, but the Yanks didn’t score at all.
When would the Yankees show they were great?
Even into game two, it was getting quite late.

El Duque kept pitching his heart out, but not winning
Until the offense exploded, in the eighth inning.
When I say exploded, I don’t exaggerate,
Derek Jeter went yard and the team went 8-for-8.
Blame it all on David Justice’s ire,
who doubled after arguing with an umpire.

In Game Three the Yankees looked more like they should,
Pitching, hitting, relief–it’s all good.
Game Four was all Clemens, with all of his pitches,
He missed a no-hitter by a couple of inches.
Still, fifteen strikeouts is nothing to sneeze on–
Ties an LCS record with a Hernandez named Livan.

So up 3-1, on the verge of more champagne,
Denny Neagle walked four and got hit again.
Even Nelson was shocked by two long home runs,
The mop up detail was Grimsley, Gooden and Cone.
The Mariners just would not go down easy,
And back in the Bronx things were totally crazy.

Game Six started rough, with the M’s two run first,
Then a two run homer in the fourth really hurt.
The Yanks scratched out three but didn’t go to town
Until a six run seventh where they batted around.
Even after that, Seattle never called it quits,
but they lost even though A-rod had four hits.

So now the Subway Series held the city in thrall.
Game One went to twelve innings and we watched them ALL.
Jose Vizcaino was the hero of the day,
as he added his first World Series to his resum-e’
In Game Two Clemens breezed, until his back got tighter,
And a startled bullpen made it into a nail-biter.

Still, the Yankees went to Shea, up two games to none,
And hoped Orlando Hernandez could once more get it done.
But El Duque gave up four, and the Yanks scored only two,
and so the Mets did something the ’99 Braves couldn’t do.

Game Four was another close one, but with Jeter number one,
He took the first pitch over the wall for a run.
Piazza answered back with a two-shot off of Denny,
so in the fifth Joe Torre made the call to Coney.
Nelson got the win, Rivera got the save,
And all around New York Yankee flags were being waved.

Bernie didn’t hit at all until game number five,
and then it was with a home run that he came alive.
Jeter hit another to tie the game at two.
Who would win this nerve-wracking pitchers duel?
Al Leiter knows the phrase “good enough to win,”
I’m sure he heard it many times, and he will again.

For though he pitched into the ninth, and struck out nine,
He walked Posada with two outs, and Bobby Valentine
Left him in to face the bottom of the Yankee order.
That decision made the Mets season one day shorter.
Scott and Luis blooped their way to lead the mets by two,
which Mariano did not give up, automatic through and through.

Our Yanks were once again showered with champagne,
tickertape, a city’s love, and the accolades of the game.
Twenty six world championships, four in just five years,
Despite the pain and losses, the trials and the tears.
Fans have winter bragging rights, because our team’s the best.
And the team has got all winter for a much needed rest.

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