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Home » September 2008 Game CommentsSeptember 2008 » Roku [六]

Roku [六]

Game 161: September 28, 2008
WinYankees 6 W: Mike Mussina (20-9)
H: Phil Coke (5)
H: Brian Bruney (12)
S: Mariano Rivera (39)
89-72, 2 game winning streak
Red Sox 2 L: Daisuke Matsuzaka (18-3) 94-67, 2 game losing streak
Highlights: Jonathan Papelbon’s performance on Sunday afternoon had better be him working out the kinks before the playoff season that begins this Wednesday. The closer allowed three runs to score in the ninth. The weather was terrible and he seemed as distressed by wet rosin bags as Joba Chamberlain was of midges. Speaking of, the rotund reliever pitched to two batters in the eighth, walking Jason Bay and allowing a ground-rule double to Mark Kotsay. The Yankees paid tribute to Johnny Pesky in their own way: the visitors scored six runs on the day that his number 6 (roku) was retired. In turn, I compliment Mussina on finally getting 20 wins in a season. In true Yankee fashion, he came up big when it mattered not a whit.

As Carlton Fisk lifted the green tarp that covered the number six on the facade of the Right Field Roof Johnny Pesky’s hands covered his eyes. Pesky could use the excuse of rain, but we really knew why his face was wet.

He had just heard Josh Beckett hurt himself and couldn’t start Game 1 of the ALDS over in El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de la Porciúncula.

Either that or his number was finally retired by the team to which he devoted his life. There were former players there to honor him, Bud Selig and Joe Torre had their letters read aloud, and Nomar Garciaparra and Curt Schilling taped congratulatory messages. Notably absent were Bobby Doerr (the oldest living player in the Hall of Fame) and Dom DiMaggio. Their health must have hindered them from traveling to Boston, for they would never intentionally miss such a celebration for their lifelong friend.

It was a long-overdue gift that came just one day after his 89th birthday. Pesky is expecting a more tangible reward come late October in the form of a third ring. He wasn’t shy in stating he wanted one (like everyone else who follows this team).

Not only did Pesky toss a ceremonial first pitch but also batted a ritual fungo to home plate. The odd reversal of direction was symbolic of the Red Sox’s reversal in their policy on retired numbers. Some purists envisage a day where a decommissioned Red Sox number loses its meaning, like the Yankees’ veritable bingo card of numerals, but I don’t think that’s a valid fear.

It’s the least they could do for Mr. Red Sox.

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