This series has officially gotten ugly.
The Yankees proved yesterday that they were not going to be totally buried this weekend, but today saw first Mike Mussina and then Scott Proctor collapse, while in the Yankees' halves the area around first base it looked more like a football game or a biker brawl than baseball. Mike Lowell knocked Robinson Cano (Official Yankees Whipping Boy of this Series) right onto his ass but FOX informed us it was a perfectly legal move. I'm still scratching my head about that one.
There weren't as many HBP in this game--Scott Proctor, in fact, appears to still be most unsettled about what happened last night. I think it was in his head as he walked the house in a bottom of the seventh that got downright messy, with two errors by Jeter, five runs for the Red Sox, and a stomach-turning collision between Mike Lowell and Doug Mientkiewicz at first base.
Before that play, the goriest thing I'd ever seen on a baseball field was the collision between Johnny Damon and Damien Jackson in the ALDS against Oakland in 2003. This, in my opinion, was even more gut-wrenching to watch, as Mientkiewicz's head was snapped forward violently and then back again, and he flopped unconscious into the dirt facedown like a rag doll, laying there motionless for a few seconds.
Like Damon after the collision with Jackson, Mientkiewicz was carted off the field on a meat wagon, a familiar fixture in the NFL but something rarely seen on the baseball diamond. The FOX cameras zoomed in on Mientkiewicz's glassy eyes as they carried him past solemnly applauding fans, past the dugout, and out to the left-field garage door, where they exited to a waiting ambulance. Last reports were that Mientkiewicz was at MGH for "precautionary testing".
Of course we were treated to graphic slow-motion replays from multiple angles, all of which showed Mientkiewicz taking as hard a shot to the head as anyone I've ever seen in any sport, and unlike in other sports, Mientkiewicz didn't have on a helmet. In fact, in the chaos he'd lost even the flimsy protective layer of his canvas baseball cap.
I'll admit that at times this season it's seemed like Mientkiewicz has become Dark Parallel Universe Mientkiewicz, sneering, slobbering tobacco, and seeming generally unpleasant whenever we've seen him these past few months in his personal Pinstripe Hell. But he's still one of the 25, one of the faces pictured in both of the iconic final moments of the ALCS and World Series. And I don't care if it was A-Rod, I never want to see any player, on any team in any game, so terribly hurt.
We won and gained back the game we lost last night. We can still squash out their hopes of making this a race in the AL East tomorrow. But it's all a little hollow tonight--I just keep drifting back to wondering how Mientkiewicz is doing, if he'll be all right.
Update: Jeff Jacobs, Hartford Courant (link via comments at JoS): "Mientkiewicz was able to sit up as he was carted off the field. He was taken to Mass General, where tests revealed a mild concussion, cervical sprain and fractured bone in his right wrist. He will be placed on the disabled list today."
Awful, but probably not as horrific as it could have been. I was worried about bleeds in his brain--that impact was the equivalent of a car accident--and it had looked while he was being worked on on the field like something was wrong with his jaw. I'm not surprised about the injury to a vertebra, either--watching the replays, he very well could have out-and-out broken his neck. What can you do but hope he's better soon, and in the meantime is given all he can eat in powerful painkillers? From some of the comments I've read around the Web today, it seems Lowell feels completely awful about it, even though it wasn't his fault.
Like I said. Ugly.