It simply could not have been better scripted…
On a night when the Yankees paid tribute to owner George Steinbrenner and long-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard, Aura and Mystique were on full display as the Yankees rallied for a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Uli Seit/The New York Times
There is no doubt that somewhere high above, the Boss was smiling. This game had it all…drama, intensity, great pitching and clutch hitting. It was complete with one of A.J. Burnett’s pies at the end as Nick Swisher’s single drove home the winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning.
Sipkin/NY Daily News
Swish, who just missed a home run in the bottom of the 5th, had tied the game in the 8th with his 16th home run of the season. He also had a run-scoring single in the 3rd and is my easy choice for player of the game.
Tampa Bay starter James Shields was very effective early. Aside from Swisher’s RBI single, the Yankees could not mount an offensive threat against Shields until later in the game. When B.J. Upton caught Swisher’s fly ball at the top of the fence in the 5th, Shields was still in the 80’s in his pitch count. It looked like he’d be able to coast through the 7th before turning over the game to the duo of Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano. Fortunately, Swisher’s near home run was a sign of things to come as Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada had back-to-back homers the next inning.
The Rays temporarily recaptured the lead in the 7th, 5-4, before Swisher’s tying home run.
In the 9th inning, after Mariano Rivera had retired the Rays in the top of the frame, leadoff batter Curtis Granderson reached on a line-drive single. He was followed by Brett Gardner, who walked after a lengthy at bat. It brought Derek Jeter to the plate, and I really hoped that it would be DJ to deliver the game-winning hit after his pre-game tribute. Unfortunately, he struck out. With one out and two on, Swisher came to the plate and promptly delivered his game-winning hit. I immediately envisioned George Steinbrenner standing to applaud the thrilling win. The day simply could not have had a better beginning, middle and end. This one was clearly for the Boss…
John Munson/The Star Ledger
It was hard not to think back to August 6, 1979 when the Yankees faced the Baltimore Orioles after attending Thurman Munson’s funeral earlier in the day. The game was highlighted by a dramatic three-run, bottom of the 9th, home run by the late Bobby Murcer, as the Yankees won by the same score as tonight, 5-4. I can’t say that tonight’s game had the same numbness I felt after Thurman’s death, but the impact was just the same.
I realize that Hal Steinbrenner has been running the Yankees for several years, however, the Hal Steinbrenner Era is officially underway, and he is off to an undefeated start. His father would be very proud…
This was George Steinbrenner’s Night, and it was Bob Sheppard’s Night. They will be forever engrained into the fabric of Yankee Stadium, and are now part of the Aura and Mystique. Goodnight, Gentleman, we will miss you…
John Munson/The Star Ledger
Without much surprise, Curtis Granderson was named the latest Yankees center fielder…
Gene J. Puskar/AP
…in a long line of great center fielders.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
While I think playing catcher for the Yankees is very prestigious given the great catchers past and present, center field is clearly THE position for the Yankees. Well, Derek Jeter would tell you shortstop, but there have been few ‘great’ Yankees shortstops until DJ came along. Scooter held the unofficial title as franchise best until Jeter, but the rest have been good but not great. Sorry Bucky, the home run in 1978 was fantastic, but you still have to be put in the ‘good, not great’ category…
Jack Curry of YES Network.com has written the article that I have feared. This could very well be Andy Pettitte’s final season before he heads home for good to Deer Park, Texas. I always thought that Andy would be one to retire too soon rather than too late. I didn’t expect to see him pitching into his 40’s like his former good friend Roger Clemens or the Phillies fifth starter Jamie Moyer. I actually thought Andy might call it a career after last year’s World Championship, so I was somewhat surprised he made the decision to return so quickly this past off-season.
But the comments Andy makes in the Curry interview are the strongest yet that I’ve heard Andy publicly say and it does sound like someone who is starting to reconcile retirement in his own mind. I will hate to see Andy go, but I will support whatever decision he feels is best for him and his family. He will always be a part of the Yankees family. It was tough to see him pitch in Houston for three years, so hopefully, the Yankees organization will keep him in the fold with spring training coaching invitations, old-timers games, and other related functions.
Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy watching Andy win for the Yankees.
Introducing the 2010 New York Yankees:
Catcher: Jorge Posada
First Base: Mark Teixeira
Shortstop: Derek Jeter
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez
Right Field: Nick Swisher
Center Field: Curtis Granderson
Left Field: Brett Gardner
DH: Nick Johnson
1st Starting Pitcher: CC Sabathia
2nd Starting Pitcher: A.J. Burnett
3rd Starting Pitcher: Andy Pettitte
4th Starting Pitcher: Javier Vazquez
5th Starting Pitcher: Phil Hughes
Closer: Mariano Rivera
Infield/Bench: Ramiro Pena
Outfield/Bench: Randy Winn
Outfield/Bench: Marcus Thames
Backup Catcher: Francisco Cervelli
Reliever: Joba Chamberlain
Reliever: Damaso Marte
Reliever: David Robertson
Reliever: Sergio Mitre
Reliever: Chan Ho Park
Reliever: Alfredo Aceves
Reliever: Boone Logan
Is this the team that will propel the Yankees to their 28th World Championship? Time will tell, but I like our chances.
I hate to date myself, but there are nine players on the Yankees 2010 roster that were born AFTER Don Mattingly had his major league debut with the Yankees in late 1982.
Finally, I was saddened to hear the passing of former Baltimore Orioles pitching great Mike Cuellar. Mike was only 72, and died today from stomach cancer in Florida. He joined Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Pat Dobson as the only foursome other than the 1920 Chicago White Sox (Red Faber, Lefty Williams, Eddie Cicotte and Dickie Kerr) to win 20 games each. Ironically, of the four, only Palmer survives, as McNally and Dobson passed away in 2002 and 2006, respectively. From 1969 through 1974, Mike won 20 games four times as the Orioles dominated the American League East. He also pitched and won the deciding fifth game of the 1970 World Series, a 9-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Julia (of Julia’s Rants) has successfully completed her required three pro-Yankee blogs. I’ll add that she did a tremendous job with her “hat trick”!
First, she led off with the Iron Man himself…
Then, she knocked in Bobby Ray Murcer…
Rich Pilling, MLB Photos via Getty Images
Finally, she slammed one out of the park with DJ…
Three outstanding blogs! Julia’s debt is paid in full…well, at least, until we meet again in late April!
I do want to compliment Julia on her selections. It is easy to write about past Yankees, such as Gehrig or Murcer. But it takes courage for a Red Sox fan to write about Derek Jeter. She could have taken the easy road and wrote about a “safe” Yankee like Jose Molina, Xavier Nady or coach Tony Pena. She could have written about A-Rod for that matter, since there’s nothing she could say that would be more polarizing than what has already been said about him in the press. She also could have written about Johnny Damon, a player with obvious ties to Red Sox history. But she chose to write about one of the most despised Yankees in Boston, and I am very appreciative. I find Dustin Pedroia to be somewhat similar to DJ. Outwardly, it is easy to say that Dustin is your least favorite player, a lousy ballplayer, etc., but meanwhile, under your breath, what you’re really saying is ‘Man, this Pedroia kid really has some incredible skills! Too bad he’s not on my team!’. I hope the Boston fans can recognize that Derek plays the game the way it should be played, and he is always respectful of his teammates and opponents. Excellent job, Julia!
By the way, it was fun being “teammates’ for a few days…
But now, we can resume our normal relationship…
JULY 21, 1980
On this date, the Yankees lost to the Milwaukee Brewers, 7-4. Tom Underwood was the losing pitcher, and the Yankees lineup looked like this:
2B Willie Randolph
LF Lou Piniella
1B Bob Watson
RF Reggie Jackson
DH Eric Soderholm
3B Graig Nettles
C Rick Cerone
CF Ruppert Jones
SS Bucky Dent
The opposing lineup included the likes of Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper, Stormin’ Gorman Thomas, Ben Oglivie, Sixto Lezcano, Don Money, Charlie Moore, and Jim Gantner. The winning pitcher was Mike Caldwell.
Nothing special about this day, right? Wrong. On July 21, 1980, in Vallejo, CA, Carsten Charles Sabathia was born.
The man destined to open the Yankees 2009 season in Baltimore on Monday, April 6th, and to throw the first official regular season pitch in the new Yankee Stadium on Thursday, April 16th (against his former team, the Cleveland Indians).
CC will always be remembered in Yankees history as the guy who opened the new Stadium.
Audrey C. Tiernan, Newsday
So, on a day that resulted in another “L” in the loss column, did the Yankees really lose? No, I’d say they won that day…
I wonder if CC could help open this for me…
Have a great weekend!