So, where were the ghosts?
You know, the ones the Yankees are always yakking about — Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig and, of course, the Babe himself.
In the new book "Haunted Baseball," authors Mickey Bradley and Dan Gordon talked to seemingly every Yankee alive about all the ones who aren't, and how they hang around the stadium, lending ectoplasmic assistance.
If a ball needs a little lift to clear the fence, for instance, an invisible hand may give it a boost. If a grounder is headed straight for the pitcher's mitt, a pinstriped poltergeist could kick it through his legs. "Everybody laughs about it and jokes about it, but I've seen some weird things happen there," Jason Giambi told the authors.
"Oh yeah, they're there," relief pitcher Ricky Bottalico is quoted as saying.
Yankees special pitching instructor Rich Monteleone goes so far as to plead with his nonterrestrial teammates: "Okay guys, come on. We need some help."
Even Alex Rodriguez believes. "I've seen it first-hand," the slugger said. "Yankee Stadium has one of the greatest home field advantages in all of sports. You just feel like the ghosts of Yankee Stadium are overlooking the guys in pinstripes."
"Overlooking" may be the operative word.
Perhaps the ghosts were off at some free buffet, secretly sponsored by Cleveland's ghosts Monday night? Or maybe they were still mad about the gnats dispatched by some of the Yankee-hating undead? Or maybe — just maybe — the Babe is, uh, less involved these days?
True believers find that notion laughable.
A former Yankees publicist, Marty Appel, said the Babe and his buds may be miffed about the team's upcoming move.
The last time the Yankees left their stadium — spending 1974 and '75 at Shea while they remodeled — no big wins came of it, Mr. Appel noted. And at last year's groundbreaking ceremony for their new home, they may have incurred even worse wraith wrath. "George Steinbrenner's son-in-law, the guy who was going to take over, could have said, ‘Wherever we play, it will always be The House That Ruth Built.' Instead he said, ‘This will be The House That George Built,'" Mr. Appel recalled. The team has failed to win the World Series since (and the son-in-law got divorced).
Other fans, however, think this explanation is loony.
"The Yankees lost because of me," said my friend Susan, whose last name I can't give because … she made the Yankees lose. "I watched the game Sunday night sitting on my living room couch with my Yankee Bear," Susan said. "I got him many years ago, the last time the Yankees actually won a World Series. But every time I take him out, the Yanks lose."
So why did she let him watch?
She can't explain it. She starts to blubber. She's throwing the bear in the dumpster! And yet — it might not be his (or her) fault.
"It's my 4-year-old daughter's fault," a West Coast fan, Adam Adelman, admitted.
"The Yankees always seemed to rally when she was practicing her ‘Hooked on Phonics,'" Mr. Adelman said. However, "she slacked off Sunday night when Jeter came up with first and third in the seventh."
Thanks a lot, kid.
Ryan Schradin, another fan not afraid to give his last name, wishes he could blame the good-for-nothing pre-schooler, but he knows the real culprit.
"I walked around for weeks saying how it was better that the Yankees were playing the Indians rather than the Angels," Mr. Schradin admitted. "Stupid, stupid, stupid! Now Joe is going to get fired and it's totally my fault." Ryan, calm down. It is not your fault … totally. It's quite possible the Babe and his gang had something to do with it — and maybe even so did the team. The living one, I mean.
I know that sounds farfetched, but strange things happen in baseball.