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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Rant #1,935: Hit Me With Your Best Shot

I spoke about being at Yankee Stadium in yesterday's column, and I have to say that I picked the right game to attend, as the Bronx Bombers bombed out against the Milwaukee Brewers in the last game of the last series before the All-Star break, losing two of three to the transplanted from the American League to the National League team from Brew City.

If any play was symptomatic of the actual malaise surrounding the Yankees now, it was the one that took place in the sixth inning of Sunday's game against the Brew Crew.

Down 5-3 in the sixth inning, the Yankees got two runners on, and their third baseman, Chase Headley, stepped to the plate.

As the at-bat went on, Headley swung and hit a high fly ball to right field. It had enough gust to land in the seats, and it appeared that the Yankees had taken the lead 6-5.

Headley dropped his bat, knew the ball at least had the distance to register as a round tripper, and he broke out of the batter's box, kind of running like, "well, maybe a homer" was on his mind.

The umpires signaled that it was a home run, waved him around the bases, and the fans in attendance cheered, as if this hit was going to be their salvation for the day.

But as Headley mosied to the dugout, the umpires converged on one another, and asked for a replay of the home run, to make sure it actually was one and not simply a well hit fly ball that hooked foul.

The Yankees' TV network showed a replay of the ball going into the stands, and it appeared that the ball missed the foul pole by a matter of inches.

When the umpires broke up their huddle, they called the runners back to the bases, and Headley back to the plate.

It simply was a long foul ball.

So the score reverted back to 5-3, and Michael Kay, the Yankees' long time TV announcer, asked out loud how many situations have occurred where a batter just missed a home run in similar fashion and then hit one that was fair.

He shouldn't have bothered, as Headley eventually struck out, and for the Brewers, at least, it was no harm, yes foul.

And that was pretty much it for the Yankees, as they lost by the score of 5-3. To add insult to injury, they team from the Bronx went 1 for 16 in with runners from scoring position in a game that last an unsightly nearly four hours.

Yes, the foul pole in baseball is really the "fair" pole, and that ball came within inches of hitting that pole and making Headley the hero of the day.

Instead, it was no different than a ball that went foul but went half as far, and the third baseman could certainly be listed as one of the game's goats.

And it proved once again that sports are often games of inches, and heroes and goats are thisclose to being affirmed one way or the other.

It's just another day at the ballpark, and boy, am I glad I wasn't there.

Last night, Aaron Judge proved that he is, in fact, an all-world baseball slugger, winning the Home Run Derby, an annual event held just prior to the All-Star Game. He hit nearly 50 dingers to do it, but like Headley, those homers didn't really count for much of anything, except bragging rights until next year.

But with 30 homers on the year at the midway point of the season, who can argue with Judge and what he has done thus far?

Hopefully, he has enough gas in his tank to continue to hit balls all over the place, and over the fence, as the Yankees face a tough road in the second half, beginning in Boston against the Red Sox.

And keep those homers fair, please.

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