NEW YORK — At least the Attack of the Midges didn’t make its way up to the Jacobs Field pressbox on Friday night. What an unreal scene in Cleveland last night. One minute there are no insects in sight, and the next they are swarming around the mound and sticking to Joba Chamberlain’s neck at the game’s most integral moment.
The bugs that Yankees fans will surely blame for this postseason collapse (that is, if the Indians close the deal) made their first appearance in the top of the eighth inning, when New York first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz was at bat. He kept stepping out of the batter’s box and shooing the pesty buggers away before grounding out.
"I got a lot of phone calls, people thought I was senile at bat in the eighth," Mientkiewicz joked in a press conference at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. "The joke around the guys was that we all had Derek Jeter’s ‘Driven’ on, and all the bugs were attacking us."
Jeter’s signature cologne aside (I made that same joke in the ballpark last night, but Mientkiewicz will get all the credit now for saying on camera. Way to steal my thunder, dude), the bugs were reeking some major havok when Chamberlain took the mound for the Yankees in the bottom of the eighth, leading by one run.
Chamberlain didn’t give up a single hit, but he threw two wild pitches, hit one batter and walked two to allow the tying run to score — all while trying to stop the bugs from flying in his mouth and after being sprayed with bug repellant.
"Just when you think you’ve seen it all," Jeter said. "I guess that’s home-field advantage for them — just let the bugs out. It worked. It was annoying. They were all flying around and I think it was worse on the pitcher’s mound. I haven’t experienced that anywhere. There’s been times when there’s been a group of bees that have come, but not that. I’ve never seen that before."
Twice this spring, the Yankees met up with some annoying bees — once in Lakeland and once in Sarasota. On Saturday, the gnats attack had Mientkiewicz citing the 1998 movie "Bees," tagline: "They outnumber us 100 million to one. If they wanted to, they could destroy the Earth. Bee afraid…"
"Joba looked like the movie ‘Bees,’" Mientkiewicz said. "He had them all over his neck and his back. But, then again, so did their guys. We don’t want to make excuses."
That was the exact point that Cleveland’s Ryan Garko made on his MLBlog, where he wrote: "…the other guys on the Yankees were acting like there were bullets flying around their heads, not gnats. I mean… this is the big leagues."
"The only chance we had was to get some bug spray out there," Chamberlain said. "That helped a little, but I came in and there was a million. That’s just a part of it and everybody else had to deal with it, too. I wasn’t the only person that had to deal with it. Obviously, they did fine."
One of our writers actually received an e-mail from a college professor who said that the type of bugs that were pestering the Yanks were attracted to moisture, and NOT steered away by the bug spray. Whoops. They also weren’t Canadian Soldiers, as reported by TBS, which tried to blame Canada.
In his press conference on Saturday, Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens said that things might have gone differently if he had any control over the situation:
"I would have probably pulled us off the field," Clemens said.