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      F I E L D  T R I P S

MAY 30, 2003

MAY 15, 2003: Anaheim Angels at New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium
Oh, What a Feeling to Be Sele-ing and Zeile-ing

The Yanks had been sliding. They'd lost more games in their previous 10 (seven) than in the 29 which preceded those (six). When I swapped emails with my Bronx Banter pal Alex Belth prior to this game, Alex sounded ready to throw himself under the D Train if the Yanks couldn't crack Angels starter Aaron Sele. See, the Bombers positively own Sele; in addition to a career 5-10 record and a 4.76 ERA against them in the regular season, he's 0-5, 5.00 against them in four playoff series.

After losing four out of five games and two straight series to AL West teams, Sele was the perfect prescription for the Yankees' ailments, and they beat him like a rented BP pitcher. The fun started with Alfonso Soriano homering on Sele's second pitch and a three-run first inning, and it just kept going. The Yanks pounded Sele for 9 hits and 8 runs in 2.2 innings, and continued teeing off on Scott Shields. The score was 10-1 after four loooong innings, by which time the Bombers had gone through the batting order three times. Things were moving so slowly that when the 9:30 curfew arrived for the beer concessionaires, it was only the fifth inning. Angels manager Mike Scioscia began packing it in shortly afterwards, making four substitutions and a position switch following the sixth. It was that kind of night.

On a chilly evening which featured lots delays riding the pine, Jeff Weaver pitched about as well as could be expected, scuffling into the seventh and allowing only two earned runs. The real star of the show was Todd Zeile, who batted ninth and played first base while Nick Johnson sat with more of his mysterious hand jive. Zeile had a picture-perfect hit-and-run ON A PITCHOUT in the second, a two-run homer in the third, and a somersault over the Yankee dugout railing to catch a Brad Fullmer pop foul in the sixth (this with a 10-2 lead). Zeile's homer, the 237th of his career, was somewhat historic. It tied him with Gus Zernial for first among major-leaguers whose names begin with the letter Z. Hey, when you're last in the alphabet, you deserve a little celebration now and then.

The other big star of the night was Derek Jeter, who had three hits, including two wall-banging doubles and his first RBI of the season. Jeter looks locked in at the plate, and his average is still .500 (7-for-14) on the season. Raul Mondesi stood out as well, with two walks, two hits, two runs, and two nice defensive plays, a great warning-track grab of Bengie Molina's fly ball in the second and a perfect rebound-and-throw to hold Adam Kennedy to a long single off the right-centerfield wall in the seventh.

One amusing moment from the stands: four old codgers directly behind me took note of Jason Giambi's batting average, which is finally above .200. One of them used the term "Mendoza Line," prompting much discussion among the four as to what exactly that meant. Another surmised that the Mendoza Line meant .150, but he had no idea to whom it referred. A third said it had something to do with World War I, possibly conflating it with the Maginot Line. The irony of the situation is that I was wearing my official Futility Infielder Baseball Jersey, which features the slogan "The website from South of the Mendoza Line" on the back. I didn't want to seem like a smartass, so I resisted entering the conversation. But had the weather been warm enough for me to remove my jacket, perhaps I could have saved them from the ignominy of not being able to correctly spot the Mendoza Line. Such lofty goals are what the Futility Infielder aspires to, after all.

Final Score: Yanks 10, Angels 4. BOX SCORE