LADY AT THE BAT: The Pauley-Wang Connection (Well, Sort Of)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Pauley-Wang Connection (Well, Sort Of)

Last night in Chicago, Chien-Ming Wang became the fastest pitcher to 50 career wins since Dwight "Doc" Gooden did it back in 1986. Wang didn't have his best stuff but hung in there, keeping his team in the game, giving them a chance to come back from a one-run deficit to win 9-5.

Meanwhile, in Boston, Josh Beckett was pulled from his start because of a stiff neck. The Red Sox called up David Pauley to make the start against the Angels, and Boston came from behind, as they usually do, to win 7-6.

So, other than the fact that Pauley and Wang pitched on the same night, what's the connection? Well, I was flipping channels late yesterday afternoon and, when I checked to see what was playing on the YES Network, I saw that it was Yankee Classics. The game being shown was a Yankees-Red Sox game that was played at The Stadium on June 6, 2006. The starting pitchers were, you guessed it, David Pauley and Chien-Ming Wang. They were in the sixth inning and the game was tied at 1. I racked my brains, trying to remember what was so classic about this game. I had no idea. What was so special about it? A short time later, when Manny Ramirez came up to bat against Kyle Farnsworth, I remembered why:

This was the game in which Melky Cabrera made his stunning, inning-ending catch at the top of the centerfield wall, robbing Manny of a go-ahead home-run. After the catch, Johnny Damon jumped up and down like a little kid, and a shocked and frustrated Manny Ramirez, who'd been waiting for Melky at second base, called out to the young outfielder as he ran by, saying he was supposed to let balls like that go. Farnsworth, who'd also been waiting for Melky, gave him a huge, awkward bear hug. For the remainder of that season the play was known as The Catch, and it helped put Melky Cabrera on the map as a Major League player.
I knew Wang was pitching later in the evening, but I didn't know about Pauley until this morning when I checked the box scores. There were no spectacluar catches by Melky Cabrera last night and no home-runs for Manny Ramirez, but I still like to think of both games as The Pauley-Wang Connection.

The Lady

[Photo: Barton Silverman, NYT]

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