Sorry I didn’t open the HDLR yesterday and Friday as planned, but I was away at a conference in Chicago and was up very early and was back very late, after the games were over. I did get to listen to practically all of Thursday night’s 9-2 victory. Abreu smoked two homers and drove in 6 runs, giving him 95 RBIs as of Thursday night as he continued to make his strong case to return to the Yanks in 2009. Jeter and Cano were each 2-3 with 2 runs and Jeter added his 69th RBI. Mussina was excellent in winning his 18th game, going 6 strong and allowing only 5 hits, a run earned, walking 2 and fanning 4 on 97 pitches/61 strikes. [Edit: As I catch up on the past few games, great move by Girardi to take Mussina out in the middle of the seventh inning to allow the crowd to appreciate how terrific Mussina has been for the Yankees. It was an excellent, touching moment with Girardi shaking Mussina's hand, Mussina smiling on the mound, and receiving a grand, standing ovation as he was showered with "MOOOOOSE!" by the adoring crowd as Mussina doffed his cap.] It also marked the successful return to The Bronx of injury-plagued Humberto Sanchez, who worked a good, scoreless eighth on route to the win. He’s a guy whose powerful stuff everyone would obviously love to see in The Bronx in 2009, and seeing highlights of him on the mound was great. I never thought anyone would dwarf Chris Britton; Sanchez does. The White Sox crew of Ed Farmer and Steve Stone, one of the very best radio crews in the business, were properly effusive in their reminiscence about The Stadium, sharing their memories during and especially after the game. It was bittersweet, with a growing sense of gloom shading the victory.
I saw nothing of the Friday and Saturday victories. PaVoldemort gave a pretty good effort Friday night from what it seemed. Coke continues to impress in relief. Brett Gardner made a tremendous catch off Luke Scott, saving PaVoldemort and the Yankees of a homer in the fourth. Gardner got a great jump, getting on his horse right at the crack of the bat and sprinting straight back to the wall in center to make a perfectly-timed jump. Amazing. The guy is making his own strong case for playing time in The Bronx in 2009, continually making excellent defensive plays in center. Jeter contributed to the win and highlight reel with a patented jump throw to nail Adam Jones in the ninth.
Robinson Cano continued to play the game the right way Saturday after his recent benching, lining a single past second with the bases loaded in the ninth to beat Baltimore 1-0 yesterday. I was pleased to see the highlight of Cano’s single as I sipped a beer in a Chicago tavern. I was equally pleased to see such emotion from the Yankees as they celebrated a big, walk-off win. Regardless of the outcome of what has been a disappointing season, the team is still playing hard and to win, and that one clearly meant a lot as the team pushed to close out Yankee Stadium with a good string of victories. Alfredo Aceves continued to make his own mark, going 6 strong scoreless innings allowing 5 hits and 3 walks with 3 K’s on 92 pitches/58 strikes. Jeter was hit on the hand with a pitch to start the ninth but, with X-Rays negative, Jeter vowed to play in tonight’s Stadium finale. I suspect he’d play if the X-Rays were positive.
Speaking of which, there will be an HDLR tonight and it should be a sad one. I’ll have everything open early for the televised festivities. Thanks to Mike F. for sending this along, an excellent, touching piece from The New York Times by Paul Simon, a lifelong Yankees fan on The Stadium. I’m honestly getting sadder as I write this, and know it will be a highly emotional night for Yankees fans everywhere. The Stadium holds special memories for all of us, those who have been there, wished to have been there, who witnessed so many of the greatest memories in baseball either in person, on TV, or over the radio. We’ve heard the roar of the crowd so many times as only Yankee Stadium could generate–loud, cacophanous, a concerted, unified roar if ever a sporting crowd could create one. We’ve seen great players and great teams accomplish the historic, the glorious, and at times the seemingly impossible. We’ve seen countless personal and team milestones right up through this trying year. At every turn, the tremendous events at The Stadium have touched us deeply, shaped our respective and collective identities as fans, Yankees partisans, and people, spurred endless conversations about what they’ve meant to us, the game, and the sporting world, and stirred deep, passionate emotions often running the full panoply. These have happened at the same (if significantly modified) location for 85 majestic, historic years and, while I’ve heard how great the new Stadium will be, it won’t be the same–even if it as great and rich with accomplishments, which would be saying a ton. Things have changed and we all know it, highlighted all the more by the fact that the Yankees won’t be in the playoffs this year without the greatest of September miracles and collapses by the Red Sox. Maybe the Yankees will rattle off another dynastic run to open the new Stadium. Even if they do–and I would love nothing more than for them to do–it won’t be the same.
A cathedral, a monument is closing down for the Yankees–for us all–tonight. Change is upon us, like it or not. You can consider it good or bad, necessary or not, but there’s no doubt that it’s one thing for practically every Yankees fan I know–profoundly sad. I hope to see everyone at some point later today to share, discuss, and commiserate about this historic, emotional day.
Please, please let Mariano close the game and Stadium with the last pitch in a win. That would soothe things a little.