E-mail Rick!

Oct. 21, 2004 10:43 am

For the record, I'm disappointed, but not surprised the Yankees lost, even though it's being called the "greatest collapse in sports history." No baseball team has ever blown a three-games-to-none lead in a seven-game series before. No team has ever even FORCED a Game 7 after being down 3-0. Oh well. Records are made to be broken, right? I told my friends I thought the Red Sox were going to the World Series BEFORE the playoffs began. I also said the Cards would make it, so we'll see about that.

There was great energy at Yankee Stadium last night...until the second inning. When Johnny "Ben Ramos" Damon hit that grand slam, you could feel the life seep out of the building. That one swing of the bat pretty much dashed any hopes of another miraculous comeback. That is, until Pedro came on in the seventh inning. Then the jeers began, an overwhelming chorus of "Who's Your Daddy," and "PEY....DRO....  PEY...DRO..."  Even though the Bronx Bombers were down 8-1 at the time, with Pedro Martinez pitching, anything could happen. Sure enough, he gave up leadoff doubles to Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams. The Yankees eventually scored two runs, and if Miguel Cairo's shot to right wasn't caught, things could've easily gotten out of hand.

Before the game, I interviewed Yankee legend Yogi Berra, an all-star catcher known for his nonsensical one-liners. I tried to set him up with some theories floated by Shepard Smith — that if the Red Sox won, pigs would actually fly, Hell would really freeze over, and the world would spin off its axis. "If the Red Sox win, do you think pigs will fly?" I asked the hall-of-famer.  "No, I don't think pigs will fly," he laughed.  I quickly followed up, "Will Hell freeze over?" "No, I don't think so," he responded, quite seriously. "We'll play each other next year." For the record, he didn't think the world would spin off its axis either.

I stood on the field for batting practice with my cameraman Scott Wilder and producer Ian Rafferty, along with lots of other reporters and photographers and a few famous faces, including film director Spike Lee, who was nice enough but wouldn't do an interview, saying he didn't want to jinx the game. Then he went over and did a live interview with ESPN. Guess we can blame Spike for the Yankees loss.  I talked to John Sterling, the radio voice of the Yanks, and sportswriter Mike Lupica, a lifelong New Yorker who told me the game had great historical significance. "I can't think of a comparable New York City sports event in my lifetime, " he said, calling it "a pivotal showdown."

As the game was about to start, the video scoreboard posted a boldfaced message I'd never seen at the Stadium before, saying "DISORDERLY CONDUCT WILL NOT BE TOLERATED... VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW," which the announcer also read to the crowd. This was apparently in response to what happened in Game 6, when fans angry with a couple of calls rained baseballs, cups and bottles down on the field, forcing the umpires to ask the NYPD for more security. Riot police trotted onto the field that night, kneeling along the first and third base line walls. There was no need for them during Game 7.

Yankee slugger Gary Sheffield's wife DeLeon then sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, firing up the crowd, but then the Sox leadoff batter Johnny Damon started the game with a single, prompting my cameraman Scott to wisely remark "there goes the no-hitter!"

Earlier, in the tunnel, Yogi finished our interview with his classic line "it ain't over till it's over." Well, it's over for Yankees fans, but I still have a job to do. I'm swallowing my pride and heading to Beantown for Game 1 of the World Series Saturday.

[Click the video tab in the upper right to watch Leventhal's reports.]

Rick,

You so deserve an assignment like this baseball thing after all you did for FOX and us, the viewers, with your time in Iraq. You did a great job. You were in our family's prayers while you were there. I was glad when you came home safely!
 
— Vicki


Hi Rick,

Just a note to say how much I enjoyed your 'eulogy' for your friend's mother. I enjoy all your reports from around the world, and I have noticed a genuine-ness about you that is very refreshing. I always feel as though reporters in the field all over the world should know how much people like me really appreciate what you do for a living.  I, for one, am very grateful.

— Mary (Bridgewater, MA)


FOX needs to know we don't see nearly enough of you. 

— Mary (Norcross, GA)


Rick,

I too am a big fan of yours since the war started last March. My son was on that "Road to Baghdad" with the Marines (he's Army). I watched FOX News every evening listening to your reporting. Thanks for risking your life to let us at home know what was going on. Although I am  no longer glued to the TV, I do catch your current reports often. Keep up the good work.

— Karen