Bug Gate: How the Yankees Got Swarmed in the ALDS

Steve ResnickCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2007

IconBy the end of Game Two of the American League Divisional Series between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians, I felt sick.

And it was all because of those damned bugs.

You could say I'm biased because I'm a Yankees fanatic—but it seems to clear to me the game should have been stopped.

In any event, the Indians—long-accustomed to such swarms—clearly benefited from the situation.

"They seemed to be bothering [the Yankees] so much, I tried to show it wasn't bothering me," said Cleveland's Casey Blake.

Veteran Yankees first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz wasn't so unperturbed.

"I've never worn glasses in a night game in my life, and I wore them tonight," said Mientkiewicz after the game. "It was annoying. They were in my eyes and my nose. I bent to pick up a ball and ate about four or them on the way down. It was very strange."

When the TBS cameramen zoomed in on New York pitcher Joba Chamberlain, you could see at least 10 bugs on the back of his neck. Between pitches, Chamberlain wiped his face and swatted impotently at the intruders.

Chamberlain had gone 2-0 in the regular season with an ERA of 0.38 in 19 relief appearances. His postseason line for 2007?

0-0 with a 4.91 ERA in 3.2 innings—including two earned runs and two wild pitches in the game I've dubbed "Bug Gate."

According to the Associated Press, play was suspended due to bug swarms in a game between the Angels and the Indians at Jacobs field in 2004.

If they stopped play then, why not this time?

This explanation came from umpire crew chief Bruce Froemming:

"I've seen bugs and mosquitoes since I started umpiring. It might not be a perfect scenario. Within 45 minutes, basically, they were gone."

But it only takes one pitch to change an entire series.

What would have happened had those evil bugs never come to The Jake? Would Joba have continued his mastery? Would the Yankees have won Game Two? Would Joe Torre still be the manager?

Unfortunately, these questions will never be answered.


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