Saturday, May 22, 2004

Best Seat In The House

History will record that the Texas Rangers have now taken the first two games of their weekend engagement with the New York Yankees. It's the most important series of the young season for the upstart Rangers while merely the most current for the fat-and-happy Yankees, who have nearly as many world championships as the Rangers do years of existence. You can read recaps of these two games in the newspaper or even the Abilene Reporter-News, but your intrepid reporter has the inside scoop on the real reason for this Texas two-step.

Yes, the key that unlocked these two triumphs can be found not in good pitching or timely hitting but instead in the west wing of my house, specifically the couch in the den and my bedroom rocking chair. (Don't expect regular updates from the Boone boudoir.)

Let's go back to Friday night. I'd helped the Rangers erase a 4-1 deficit and build a 9-4 lead through 8 innings by patiently sticking to the couch in the den, fully reclined with my right foot propped up on the coffee table, making it perhaps the only five-legged coffee table in the world. Long story short, things get crazy in the top of the 9th. (My exasperation over modern relief pitcher substitution patterns may turn into a book. Hey! Something for the five-legged coffee table!) Anyway, the Yankees chip away with a barrage of bad-bounce singles and 12-hoppers through the infield. Now it's 9-7, and the temptation to relocate begins to bubble. Undaunted, I stick to my guns and, more literally, my seat. Francisco Cordero rewards my loyalty by fanning Hideki Matsui with 99 mile-an-hour heat -


Matsui may as well have used a chopstick! He couldn't touch Coco's gas! -

then sending Tony Clark and the rest of the no-good New Yorkers home with a final helping of high cheese. Ballgame. Cordero was credited with the official save, but I knew I'd done my part, too. I'm not in this for the stats, people.

Saturday. New day. New game. These are the Yankees. It doesn't take them long to figure out how to counterattack your strengths. For the first part of the game, the couch remains red-hot, possibly due to bearing the brunt of my nearly 200 pounds two days in a row. The impressive young Ryan Drese is perfect through the first 4 2/3 innings before Bernie Williams and Tony the former Tiger go yard on consecutive pitches, turning a 1-nil deficit into a 2-1 Yankee lead. Meanwhile, Texas - apparently wielding Matsui's chopstick instead of their usual lumber - collect exactly no hits from the 3rd through 7th innings. With New York leading 3-1 and the bottom of the 8th fast approaching, I make my move, announcing my intentions to find better luck in another venue to anyone who'll listen. I reposition my aforementioned brunt and hunker down in the bedroom rocking chair. Hank Blalock, having looked awful in three previous at-bats, immediately rips a single into right to begin the 8th. Amy yells from the den, "Stay in there. It's working." (Is she not fabulous?!?) Fonzie Soriano dribbles a grounder toward the player for whom he was traded, Alex Rodriguez, who can't field it cleanly and throws late enough to convince the first-base umpire to rule Soriano safe. A bad call, for sure, but an error for Alex, leaving runners on first and second with no one out. You may recall the Rangers had to agree to pay some of A-Rod's wad each year to make the trade with the Yankees happen. I figure he's being paid by both teams, he ought to help each win. Thanks, E-Rod. And - oh, by the way - the chair is rockin'!!!

Nicholas, not aware of the geosportalitical ramifications of relocating during your team's rally, leaves the den and runs into the bedroom to celebrate with me. Lay off, he's only 5. I'll learn him yet. Sure enough, Brad Fullmer hits a comebacker to the mound, a perfect double-play ball for veteran reliever, Tom "Flash" Gordon. But the power of the chair is too much. Gordon throws a perfect split-finger fastball to Derek Jeter who watches it go through his wickets for another error. Blalock scores to make it 3-2. Soriano's now at third, and the crowd has no idea to what lengths I'm going to make this rally happen. Mark Teixeira (pronounced "teixeira") follows with a topspin lob to left field that would've made McEnroe drool (more so than normal). It lands safely, and the game is tied, 3-3. This is where I nearly blew it. Mistakenly thinking the power was in the room and not the chair (not to mention being discombobulated by the Nicholas shift), I get up from the chair - I know, I know, but it all happened so fast! - and lean back on the edge of the bed. David Dellucci hits another comebacker, and again Gordon goofs, throwing another one-hopper to short. This time, with the chair empty and the space/time continuum upset, Jeter scoops it up and salvages the out at second. With runners on the corners and me still clueless, Kevin Mench grounds into an inning-ending double dip. Tie game, but it could've, should've been a Ranger lead.

The double play does serve to snap me back into reality. I gently but firmly explain to Nicholas the impact his returning to the den will have on this epochal moment in world history. He laughs, as he often does at my offerings, and stays put. Desperate, I return to the den. I can't prove this, but I think my equivocation actually confuses these forces of fate! While they try to decide where I'm going to watch, Carlos Almanzar routinely retires the side in order! Hah! The game remains knotted at 3. Alas, said spirits self-correct in time for the bottom of the final frame.

Friday night's two-homer hero Laynce Nix - rendered powerless now with me in the den and the chair empty - strikes out to lead off the 9th. That's when it happens. Rod Barajas, suddenly the everyday catcher because of an injury to promising rookie backstop Gerald Laird, makes his way to the plate, stride for stride with my own epiphany.


I dash back to the bedroom and begin rocking as Barajas falls behind 0-1. With cheeks planted firmly on felt and order having been restored, Rod and his Staff they comfort me, sending the next offering deep into the left field bleachers. FLASH! Gordon and the Yanks go down, 4-3! Rangers win! Rangers win!

The ballpark and our house - all 50,005 of us - simultaneously erupt. Nicholas strips down to his underwear and begins running around like a chicken with his head cut off. (Family ritual.) And I, exhausted, click off the TV and begin charting seat assignments for tomorrow's potential sweep. You're welcome to watch the game over here. Just don't get too comfortable.

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