Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Withstanding the whammy

In the early hours of Tuesday afternoon, Mama La Monica seemed irked by Schilling’s comments about shutting up 55,000 people at Yankee Stadium.

Mama La Monica is a very lovely lady, but when it comes to talking trash about her Yankees, trouble is to be had.

So when her Yankees smacked Schilling all around the South Bronx, South South Bronx, Mama La Monica picked up the phone in her family room and called my phone at my desk at work.

“Newsday, this is Mark.”

“55,000 people don’t sound too quiet right now,” Mama La Monica screams into
the phone (and no, she hadn’t been drinking).

Though we admire the ability to live in the present, three innings does not a Yankees-Red Sox ALCS game make. This would be Whammy No. 1. At this point, I begin to fathom how the Yankees will blow the lead. I figure Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz would hit back-to-back homers in three separate innings to tie it at 6. Johnny Damon would then single, steal second and third on one pitch, then score on a Tom Gordon balk for the 7-6 lead in the eighth.

None of that occurred, as the Yankees managed to withstand the first whammy of the October evening.

I am directly responsible for Whammy No. 2, and while it helped yield me a financial windfall (the over was 8 ½), I still felt bad when I was doing it. But, journalistically speaking, it was the right thing to do.

I wrote a headline on the Newsday.com home page that read “Moose perfect through four, Yanks lead 6-0.

My passport to the Bronx should have been revoked three seconds after I clicked the save button, regardless of whether or not my job is to provide live updates on the game to the Web site. I could just as easily have written “Yanks mash Schilling, take early 6-0 lead,” but I didn’t. Secretly, I wanted to see if Mussina had the intestinal fortitude to withstand the whammy. Secretly, I wanted the over.

And I wasn’t going to quit until I got it.

“Moose perfect through five, Yanks lead 7-0.”

“Moose perfect through six, Yanks lead 8-0.”

The headlines screamed across the top of the page.

“Moose perfect through 6 1/3, Yanks lead 8-0.”

Next thing I know, the Red Sox are mounting a comeback. I turn my head (I wasn’t asked to cough), turn back and it’s 8-7 Yankees and Mariano is coming in from the pen.

I consider calling Mama La Monica and thanking her for the whammy, but I am just as guilty as her. Plus, Mariano is Mariano, so the situation seems whammy proof.

Mariano gets the out in the eighth, Bernie extends the lead to 10-7, life is good for the moment. Still three more outs to go.

C’mon, big bucks, big bucks, no whammies, no whammies.

A pair of one-out singles by Varitek and Cabrera raise the whammy alert to orange. Mariano, the greatest reliever in postseason history, gets a comebacker, doesn’t throw the ball into centerfield and Jeter turns the double play to end the game.

The Bronx is a No Whammy Zone.