The Philadelphia 76ers and the New York Yankees are my favorite basketball and baseball teams.
So, Friday night was a big one for me. Philly was at home at the Wachovia Center against whiney Stan Van Gundy and the Orlando Magic, with the opening round NBA playoff series squared at a game apiece. The Yanks were at Fenway for the first of 18 regular-season meetings against the hated Boston Red Sox.
On ESPN, Brian Roberts’ Sixers were tied at 94 in the waning seconds. On YES, the Bombers held a 4-2 lead, Mariano Rivera on the mound, with two outs and J.D. Drew on first.
Southpaw Thaddeus Young drove baseline for Philly — which had returned the Game 1 favor in which they erased an 18-point in upsetting Orlando by allowing the Magic to knot matters off a similar deficit — before spinning into the lane against Dwight Howard. Somehow, the lefty evaded the defensive player of the year and the league’s top shot blocker, laying it above Superman and off the window. When Magic didn’t materialize and a half-court heave fell short, it was elation on ESPN2.
But that emotion was very short-lived. Clicking the remote to YES, deflation immediately took over: Jason Bay was in a home run trot. Mo had matched his blown save total for 2008 by leaving one belt high for Manny Ramirez’s replacement, who launched it over the 37-foot Monster in deep center.
In the top of the tenth, Dustin Pedroia robbed Derek Jeter — who in the eighth for one of the few times in his career failed to corral a shallow pop into left center with one of his patented wide-receiver grabs — on a diving stop up the middle. The reigning MVP’s leather prevented Jose Molina from lumbering home with the go-ahead run against Bosox closer Jonathan Papelbum. After a Johnny Damon walk and swipe of second, $180 million man Mark Texeira struck out on ball four over his head, ending the Yanks last best threat.
All told, New York was a miserable 4-19 with runners in scoring position on the night, including a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation in the top of the ninth.
Although the playoff game was more important, deflation won in its last licks, when Kevin Youklis went deep onto Lansdowne in the 11th.
Still, it might have been worse: I could have TiVOd YES and watched the Yanks unravel on delay.
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