My Hometown Hero: SHAWN CHACON

Wed., July 26, 2006:     Yankees 8     @     Rangers 7         

W – S. Chacon (5-3, 6.56)          L – A. Otsuka (2-4, 2.30)          S – M. Rivera (25)

I credit Mark Feinsand for choosing to center his article about this game around Shawn Chacon, who receives so little press, and whom the Yankees are reportedly — and, if true, regrettably — trying to trade.  Quotations by players and Joe Torre are from Mr. Feinsand’s 7.27.06 article on MLB.com.

Someone get Shawn Chacon a BROOM!  He swept those pesky Texans out of the way when no one else could.  He re-ignited the GAME!   Torre’s trusted team of relievers had just let the helium out of a heady homerun comeback by a headline-worthy "A-Bomb, from A-Rod," as John Sterling of WCBS never more aptly called the __ inning homerun by the slumping and much-maligned Alexander Rodriguez in the very ballpark he had abandoned 2 seasons ago for Yankee Stadium and the team everybody loves to hate.  And it wasn’t just the A-Rod run….

It was the 8th, and we had been unable to score since the 1st, when Andy Phillips had singled-in Jeter and A-Rod. Despite reaching base 5 times that first inning, we paralyzed, Texas caught up then broke a tie to lead 4-2 in the 4th.  Since that, nothing.  Just that flat "When does Sheffield come back again" or "Gee, doesn’t Giambi look a little heavy and red about the eyes" kind of feeling. Not good. 

So, nothing since the 1st and it’s the 8th and we’re down by 2.  The man Marc Marc has called K-Rod and the master of the rally-killing homerun STARTS A RALLY.  Well, first, he stepped to the plate and the earth shifted on its axis for a moment, from all those rolled eyes, you understand. 

Chacon’s win in relief yesterday made tremendous, visceral sense of how a few tosses can constitute a genuinely meaningful "W" by virtue of turning the tide of a game.  Here is A-Rod’s explanation of what Chacon did for the Yankees last night:  "After Chacon got the double play, I had a good feeling.  We were deflated, but we got some momentum back. When they didn’t score, we felt this was our game."

Even Torre gave it to him:  "[Chacon] came in and was totally lights-out. He kept us in a position to do what we did. He’s the player of the game for me."

Before burying the point in what typically reads like shy self-effacement out of respect for what other players can do, even Chacon himself allowed himself to acknowledge the transformative power of his 3 8th inning outs:  "After getting out of that jam, someone made a comment that we were going to win this game. It just felt like we were. They could have blown it open and they didn’t, and it wasn’t a game that was ever out of either team’s reach."

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