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The 2009 World Series: Daddy Dearest

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They've now played two games of the 2009 edition of the World Series -- or, as Ring Lardner used to call it, the World Serious -- and I think we can say that we've already learned a few interesting things from the opening contests. For instance, it's hard not to be impressed with Cliff Lee's performance on the first day of the Fall Classic -- and no, I'm not talking about his complete game victory in the Phillies' 6-1 win over the Yankees in Game One. Sure, his pitching (9IP, 6H, 0ER, 0BB, 10 SO) was phenomenal. But how many out-of-towners do you know who have the wherewithal to jump out of a taxicab stuck in Manhattan traffic and hop on the nearest subway train to make sure they get to their destination on time -- especially when that destination is the Grand Concourse in the Bronx? Well, that's just what good ol' Arkansas boy Lee did when the cab from his hotel had more trouble navigating the mean New York streets than the lefthander would later have in navigating the (ostensibly) mean New York lineup. Not only that; he even successfully changed trains. During rush hour.

Of course, dogged journalist that I am, I was able to do a little digging (well, at least a few mouse clicks) and discovered that Mr. Lee is not exactly a stranger to New York City's public transportation system. It seems that last May, while with his old team, the Cleveland Indians, Lee was spotted headed for a start at Yankee Stadium on the Lexington Avenue line (no train- switching needed for that trip). There's even documentation.

One more reason why they call lefthanded pitchers "crafty," I guess.

Pedro Martinez, on the other hand (and arm) is a righty, of course, but since at this point is his career he no longer has the mid-to-high 90s MPH fastball that helped him win three Cy Young Awards in his younger and healthier days, he may as well be a lefty for all the junk-in-the-trunk arsenal of assorted curves and change-ups he uses to still baffle hitters. True, Petey wasn't quite as impressive on the mound as Lee, or his opponent, Yankee (and pie-in-the-face) hurler A.J. Burnett, who bested Martinez and the Phillies 3-1 in Game Two.

But, again, outside the lines, in assorted pre- and post- game interviews, Pedro was brilliant. First he named himself the only player who could strike fear in Yankee fans' hearts without throwing a single pitch. (Guess he forgot about Carl Pavano.) Then he named himself the "most influential player" ever to appear at Yankee Stadium (Guess he doesn't consider Popes or Jay-Z playas.) And finally, after being serenaded as usual by the sound of 50,000 people yelling "Who's Your Daddy?" Martinez went out of his way to chastise one particular Yankee daddy in the stands. "He had his daughter in one arm and a cup of beer in the other hand and saying all kinds of nasty stuff," said Martinez. "I just told him, 'Your daughter is right beside you. It's a little girl. It's a shame you're saying all these things.' I had to stop and tell him because I'm a father myself, and God, how can you be so dumb to do those kinds of things in front of your child? What kind of example are you setting?"

Like the MLB ad says: This is beyond baseball, isn't it?