New York Fancy Ladies 4, Toronto Blue Jays 3

Friday, April 22 2005 @ 09:00 AM EDT

Contributed by: Named For Hank

So, about eighty million men left on base, that's not pretty, but at the same time it was a close game and came down to the final at-bat.

There are a few things I want to talk about:

1) A-Rod. I thought earlier this week that Alex Rodriguez had been handed the plot to his inevitable cheesy Hollywood bio-pic: if I was a screenwriter given the task of writing The A-Rod Story, I would do my damnedest to hang the story around A-Rod saving the kid in Boston.

Off the top of my head, here's how it would go: young A-Rod is discovered playing high school ball with his friend, Derek Jeter. Both make the big leagues. A-Rod is jealous of Jeter's success. His heart blackens, and in an attempt to one-up his friend, he demands and receives the richest contract in the history of the game. When Jeter isn't impressed, A-Rod turns on him in the press. The money doesn't fill the empty hole in his soul, so A-Rod begins to seek World Series glory, a path that leads him to the New York Yankees and his former friend. They fail, together, and everything looks its bleakest, and then one day A-Rod saves that kid in Boston and realizes the true meaning of Christmas or whatever, and vows to become a better person. He makes amends with Jeter, they win some ballgames and he goes to the Hall of Fame. The end.

Except it doesn't appear to be going down that way -- the pre-kid-saving blackhearted A-Rod was in full effect against the Jays last night. If it wasn't the ridiculous argument with the umpire after he ran way outside of the baseline (which, in my opinion, made him look like the biggest fancy lady on a team of fancy ladies), it was the comically A-Rod-sized bag of ice applied to his tiny little nosebleed. It was bigger than his head! Nothing appears to have changed since the girly-slap last fall, and that's a real shame, because the screenplay has potential.

2) Shea Hillenbrand. Okay, I'll admit it: the NFH challenge to Robert Dudek was not out of any kind of loyalty to or love for Shea Hillenbrand. Before he was acquired by the Jays this summer I can't even remember hearing his name. To be quite honest, I felt bad for this poor guy who was being beat up by virtually everyone who posted, and I decided to stick up for him. So I'm not some kind of genius or seer or genuine baseball analyst (heck, I didn't even have the smarts to pick him up in the late rounds of my fantasy draft, and I really could use him right now). But the performance he's put up so far (which, as Moffatt and Dudek are sure to point out, will not last) has been great. As someone who knew nothing about him before, I'm really happy to see him on the Jays. He'll have to go through one hell of a slump to change my mind on that.

3) I shouldn't watch Yankees games around impressionable young children. Wednesday night I was watching the game on TV with baby Theo and the two children of some of our friends, a five year old girl and a two year old boy. When Sheffield stepped in front of Zaun, I said "That's garbage, just garbage." The little girl asked me why I said that, and I explained that the Yankees were a team of mean, rich cheaters. She was horrified that the umpire hadn't seen Sheff's interference and that Sheff hadn't owned up to it.

I'm sure I'll be getting questions from her dad about where she learned these not entirely true things about the Yankees. He asked me the other day how his daughter knew which hats were the old Blue Jays hats and which were the new ones, so we know that the information I supply is being absorbed.

4) The broadcast. Nice work, Sportsnet: looked great, as usual, and the sound was significantly better. I could pick out individual hecklers, which was fun, and there was a real sense of the size and volume of the crowd. Last year, the games frequently sounded like they were recorded through a vacuum cleaner hose, but this was clean, clear and wonderful. Killer work, guys.

5) Cheer Club. With baby Theo, I'm semi-retired from Cheer Club. I'll still be coming to games, but we learned very quickly that while Theo has no problem with the general loudness of a baseball stadium, he really hates it when daddy yells. However, Mrs. Hank and baby Theo are off at some Grandma-mom-child event that I'm not invited to on Saturday, so I'm coming out to the game in full, old-school Cheer Club form. I also will be carrying the World's Best Throat Lozenges, for those who want to try to match me in lung power and overextend themselves.

By an astounding coincidence, this weekend is the weekend that Jobu wanted to arrange for a big Cheer Club outing. So, who's coming out?