Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lost Advantage

It was too hot to go to the movies yesterday.

I had been planning to catch the 2:15 pm showing of Toy Story 3 at the Clearview Cinemas in Yonkers, part of my free film Tuesday series, courtesy of our Optimum Rewards membership. After bringing Ellie’s and Donny’s gear from a long weekend on Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod to their apartment in Brooklyn and returning to Yonkers in time to deliver meals to the homebound, I was ready to spend a couple of hours relaxing in air conditioned comfort.

Unfortunately, the Jeep I was driving was not too keen on bleaching out in the 100 degree sun on the totally exposed parking lot. Whether it was the triple-digit heat or a malfunctioning, underperforming a/c system, my morning drive confirmed Ellie’s report that the 12-year-old Jeep was not the most comfortable conveyance to be cooped up in, all the more so if it had several hours to bake in one spot. I reasoned Toy Story 3 would probably be around next week and that a visit to the dealership for an a/c tune-up Thursday would be a more prudent approach. After hearing a news report last evening that a car parked in the sun could have its interior temperature elevated by 50 degrees, I have no doubt I took the correct course of action.

Lost Advantage: Has Mariano Rivera jeopardized the NY Yankees’ chances for a 28th World Championship?

Because of nagging injuries, Rivera has backed out of this year’s All-Star baseball game next week in Anaheim between the National and American Leagues. The All-Star game winner determines home field advantage during the World Series. If the American League wins, it would mean games 1,2, 6 and 7 would be played at Yankee Stadium (I am assuming, of course, the Yanks will represent the American League. To presume otherwise would be heresy).

As the premier closer in baseball, the pitcher responsible for securing the last outs of a game, Rivera has never faltered at Yankee Stadium in the post-season, so gaining home field advantage would be a tangible and psychological advantage to the Yankees. While “Mo” has been stellar in other ballparks, he has four times failed to safeguard a lead during post-season away games—the 4th game of the 1997 Division Series in Cleveland won the next day by the Indians, the 7th and decisive game of the 2001 World Series in Arizona won by the Diamondbacks, and Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 American League Championship Series in Boston eventually won by the Red Sox.

Now, I don’t begrudge Rivera wanting a few days off during the All-Star break. His right knee and left oblique muscle are bothering him. But caution now could backfire in the World Series. Yes, there are other worthy closers on the American League roster. But every other closer blew a lead during last year’s post-season; only Rivera’s record was spotless. When that happens, the Yankees generally win.

There is no certainty the All-Star game would even be close enough to require Rivera’s appearance on the mound. So his injured body might not be taxed. Taking away the Rivera option has surely diminished the American Leagues’, and thereby the Yankees’, margin for success, next week and in three months.

Woodchuck Invasion: Peering out the kitchen window while cleaning some potatoes for this evening’s dinner, I spotted a woodchuck waddling across our side yard. He stopped to munch on some leafy plants. I raced outside to shoo him away, but he was back a few moments later, only to amble off to our neighbor’s lot.

Perhaps it’s this woodchuck that moved some sizable stones surrounding the bird feeding station in our yard. Yesterday I noticed several stones had been overturned. The birds didn’t do it. I have my doubts the coyotes we’ve been reading about did it. I thought maybe a raccoon, but upon seeing the woodchuck I have a new suspect.

No doubt Gilda will demand immediate repulsive action (that’s repulsive as in keeping it away, not as in doing anything repugnant). The woodchuck control web site lists several remedies, each one bullet-pointed with the paw of a woodchuck (cute, yes? Not really, when one considers the reason why one has landed on this web page).

Speaking of bullets, that’s one suggestion, though not one I would consider. Trapping is another option my ancestors might have employed. Engaging a professional pest controller is a little too much for now. The most appropriate remedy might be using a repellant with predator odors, such as coyote urine. Hopefully, those odors won’t attract real coyotes. I’ve emailed “ask-the-peeman” for an answer.

Frisbee Update: Dan’s team has won all its games so far at the World Ultimate Frisbee Championships. Only one more contest Thursday before the playoff round begins Friday.

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