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The Yankees of Malfi
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Last night I had open in one tab in my browser John Webster's 1614 play The Duchess of Malfi and in another tab the boxscore to the Yankees' baseball game. In between betrayals and murders I clicked from Italy to Texas. Having taken a course in Elizabethan drama during a time much nearer to that era than today, I had a pretty good idea that the Duchess was not going to have an all singing all dancing finale while there is at least a possibility that the Yanks might avoid the tragedy of their first non-playoff season in fifteen years, though the foreshadowing hints strongly against it.

Mary had been reading Agatha Christie's Sleeping Murder and mentioned that at one point some of the characters see a performance of Webster's play, so naturally I was motivated to read the play rather than Christie's book.

Yankee starter Mike Mussina was throwing blanks at the Rangers, appropriately enough since I was reading blank verse. "Moose" as he's know might even have read some Webster himself, or Marlowe or certainly Shakespeare, since the pitcher holds a degree in economics from Stanford and apparently enjoys doing the Sunday New York Times crossword. Then again, he is nicknamed "Moose."

Just as the villainous Bosola dupes the Duchess into revealing her secret marriage, Alex Rodriguez struck out with a Yankee runner on third, fooled by the pitch. Although they still led 2-0 the Yankees had left themselves open for a loss. Luckily, their families and their happy liaison with Antonio were not in jeopardy.

As the game moved into the late innings, Ranger's slugger Josh Hamilton still presented a menace but at least leading hitter Milton Bradley was out of the lineup with an injury. Unfortunately neither of the Duchess' two evil brothers -- the Cardinal nor the Duke -- was sidelined, though the latter was clearly afflicted.

An inning after Michael Young's long fly died at the warning track to end the eighth the Duchess prepared to die young. The Yankees clung to the lead in the bottom of the ninth as the crazed, evil and lecherous Duke placed his hands around the neck of the Duchess. Manager Joe Girardi called on reliever Mariano River to choke off any Ranger rally.

"We are merely the stars' tennis balls, struck and bandied which way please them," Bosola says at the end of the play. It was up to Rivera to make sure opposing batters didn't strike and bandy any balls the way they pleased. For a moment I expected Mariano to stride into the room where the Duchess was imprisoned and sit the Duke down with a few nasty cutters which would have been quite in keeping with the rest of the play.

As it turned out Rivera dazzled the eyes of the hitters he faced. The Yankees won. The Duchess lost. Webster's play continued on its usual bloody course. Tonight both the Duchess and Yanks are at the Angels.

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