The Curse of the Shellaclava, and the apotheosis of A-Rod
Amazon.com advertises the shellaclava as a lightweight, low-bulk, microfur neck warmer. It's great for alpine adventures or a day on the ski slopes.
No one in baseball should wear one ever again.
The ALCS has become the curse of the shellaclava, with two Angels and one Yankee already victims of the insidious garment. It started with Halos' shortstop Erick Aybar, who let a pop fly drop directly in front of him in Game 1 that gave the Bombers basically a free run in their 4-1 victory. Saturday, it claimed Robinson Cano and Maicer Izturis as well.
Though conditions for Game 2 were just as cold and wet, Aybar trotted out to shortstop Saturday with an exposed neck and no headwear, possibly on pain of death from skipper Mike Scioscia. And Aybar had a stellar game, racking up a hit, a walk, a stolen base, and a run and contributing almost spotless defense. His only blemish came when second base umpire Jerry Layne negated a double play on of the once-in-a-blue-moon neighborhood play.
Cano and Izturis, meanwhile, donned their shellaclavas without a second thought. The curse lay dormant until the late innings, when it struck with a fury. First, Cano muffed two routine ground balls, including a misplay in the 13th where the ball literally rolled under his glove. The ball was hit by Aybar, now on the other end of the curse.
The Yankees were able to maneuver around Cano's errors each time; Izturis was not so lucky. The Angels' second baseman fell victim to the curse on the final play of the five-hour, 10-minute classic. With runners on first and second and one out in the bottom of the 13th, Melky Cabrera slapped a ground ball into the hole. Izturis grabbed the ball, spun, and fired to second, trying for a heroic double play.
The throw was wild, and Jerry Hairston Jr. came around to score the winning run as the ball dribbled away.
After the game, Izturis defended his decision to try for the double play. Maybe the shellaclava was wrapped around his head a little too tight.
The series shifts to warm and sunny L.A. for Games 3-5, so the shellaclavas will be put away for now. But the forecast calls for more rain and low temperatures in the 40s next weekend in New York, when a possible Game 6 and 7 would be played. We'll see if anyone is foolhardy enough to break out the headgear again.
In other news, how 'bout that Alex Rodriguez guy? Earlier this postseason, I questioned the sanity of anyone who threw A-Rod a fastball in a big moment. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Brian Fuentes! The Halos' closer had A-Rod down 0-2, with light-hitting Hairston and Brett Gardner on deck. In that driving rain, only A-Rod and Mark Teixeira are hitting it out for the Bombers. How could you possibly throw the hottest hitter in baseball an 0-2 fastball?