NEW YORK - It's that time of year. Halloween isn't until tomorrow, but some fans in the Bronx couldn't wait.
The crowd at Yankee Stadium was spotted with all sorts of interesting outfits. One guy was wearing a Shrek mask. Another was dressed as the Travelocity Gnome. A couple went as Evil Empire storm troopers. And tens of thousands of diehard Bombers fans put on their best alien costumes, which look a lot like what they wear the rest of the year.
Scariest looking guy in the entire park, though, was A.J. Burnett. When did he remember how to pitch?
I got a text from my buddy Fearce before the eighth inning that pretty much summed up what I was thinking: "I don't know what to do when I can't really complain about bad calls or the announcers hating Philly. Feels weird."
Crusty old baseball lifers like to call that a tip-your-hat game. You could say the Phillies' bats didn't do much, but that would be terribly unfair - like Yankees fans blaming the Bombers for not smacking Cliff Lee around in Game 1. What could they really do? Dude was dealing.
Aside from two big mistakes, Pedro Martinez pitched a pretty good game. Problem was, Burnett was better. He just was.
Because of Boogeyman Burnett - not to mention Count Closer, Mariano Rivera - the World Series is tied at a game apiece now. Maybe that frightens you, but it shouldn't. Not anymore. You should be used to it by now. Including tonight, the Phils have lost Game 2 in their last four postseason series, so try not to worry about it too much.
Given the choice, I would have rather seen the Phils take a commanding two-games-to-none lead and head back to Philly with the kind of breathing room CC Sabathia only wishes he could find in a pair of pants. But as my ex-girlfriend reminded me as she walked out the door, you can't have everything.
Here's the good news, something we all know to be true: The Phils are fighters. What happened tonight only underscores what Jimmy Rollins said in Denver after the NL division series (which seems like an awful long time ago, doesn't it?): "You understand why they say you're defending something."
Game 1 was terrific and comfortable, but the series officially began tonight. Start spreading the news.
Eating their own
In the concourse before Game 2, I watched two Yankees fans yell at each other:
Yankees Fan No. 1: "Take that hat off, you moron."
Yankees Fan No. 2: (Turned around looking confused. He was wearing a red Yankees hat.)
YFN1: (Looked up at hat. Saw "NY" symbol.) "Oh. I thought you were a Phillies fan."
YFN2: "It's a special-edition hat, you moron."
I think moron is a term of endearment here.
Jay-Z (finally) performed "Empire State of Mind" tonight. Players from both teams watched from the dugout steps, and the press box was full of admirers (including your friendly Page 2 Hova fan). Bob Ford wasn't quite as excited. Ever since Ford met Lawrence Welk back when Ike was president, no one seems to measure up.
A friend and Phils fan took the liberty of rewriting the hook to "Empire State of Mind" and making it more Fightin's friendly. Feel free to sing the new lyrics next time you hear the song on the radio, which should be any second now:
"In New York, Concrete jungle where Phils dreams are made of, there's nothing Lee can't do. Now you're in New York. These streets will make Pedro feel brand new. Big lights will inspire Chooch! Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York."
Wait . . . what?
Someone asked Rollins about most national pundits' picking the Yankees to win the series and whether the Phils noticed. "We've heard it," Rollins said. Pause. "You know, do we notice it? Not at all."
Even after Paul O'Neill picked the Yankees to win the series in four games (oops), the Bombers let him throw out the first pitch tonight. Risky move. That prediction had bad juju all over it. They're lucky he didn't uncork one and crack Mayor Bloomberg in the eye. . . . The Onion has a great piece about the Fightin's trying to end their "364-day World Series Drought" (tinyurl.com/newdrought). Best part: "Our fans are incredible," said Raul Ibanez. "If I were them, I would have given up on us weeks ago, after we lost our 69th game and failed to win the National League East by more than 10 [games]." . . . Ever see the Simpsons episode when the family takes a trip to NYC? After three days in New York (which is about four too many), I can't help but think about what Homer shouted out of his car window as he fled from the city, shaking his fist: "So long, Stinktown."