Saturday, October 10, 2009


By the time you read this post, it will have been 24 hours since the first pitch of last night's ball game and last night's win that was everything that 2006 and 2007 were not.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that last night's game was a microcosm of everything this season, a microcosm of the team, of its flaws and its strengths, of its poise and of its fight.

We've been following this team all year. We know about the walk off wins, about the pies, about the pitching staff that at times is unhittable and at other times can't find anything that looks remotely like a strike zone. We know about all the breaks that just seem to go the Yankees' way, about the A-Rod story that is over and done, and we know about the life injected by Sabathia, Burnett, Swisher and Teixeira.

So last night played out like any important game this season did: a close game with just enough breaks going the Yankees' way and a pie a la AJ.

It can't be a coincidence that Rodriguez has the two biggest home runs (thus far) of the 2009 Yankees: the bottom-of-the-fifteenth inning blast to win a scoreless marathon against Boston, and last night's game-tying ninth inning blast. Rodriguez has hit many other home runs--like the first pitch he saw of the 2009 season and a three run home run and grand slam in the final regular season game, and it seems odd to say but he may very well have been the most underrated Yankee this year.

It can't be a coincidence that, not since the middle of October 2003, did such a thing seem possible.

Yet, this is, historically, who the Yankees are: they reign in October. They find heroes in the likely, in the unlikely, in those in need of redemption and in those further cementing a legendary glory.

Just look at Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and David Robertson.

All three of them have had an impact on 2009--two of them with salaries more than the GDPs of some small nations, and one of them whose role last night might, some years from now, be forgotten by all except his teammates and the most die-hard among his team's fans.

Rodriguez had helped his case with his Game One performance, but he still needed that ultimate redemption, that signature moment in the postseason in which fans could forever ask, "remember when A-Rod hit that home run?".

Mark Teixeira had found himself welcomed this season in the Bronx with open arms--his defense alone, perhaps, being worth the honor--but he was on the verge of an 0-for-two-games and there was not a single Yankee fan that wanted to stomach, no matter how briefly, that as being a possibility.

Then there was Robertson, a bullpen pitcher who has largely remained unnoticed because he has been so effective. The closer and eighth inning spots already taken, Robertson often appeared either earlier, or later, in extra innings, when the most climactic moments of the game seem to have passed by. Robertson, who has none of the experience of Mariano Rivera, found a way to exhibit the same poise.

Three different players, at three very different points in their careers, three different personalities and three different projections and postulations by the media, and yet all three crucial to the win.

That's the thing about the Yankees that resonates so well: sure, there are the heroics from Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Derek Jeter, Reggie Jackson and Alex Rodrigues, but then there are also the heroics from those like Bucky Dent and Chad Curtis, Luis Sojo and Jose Vizcaino.

We don't know what tomorrow's game will bring; the only guarantee is that since the Yankees are not the home team, they can't have a walk off win.

That doesn't seem likely to matter, however, as this team, like the great ones not so long ago, has found a way to win in nearly every situation.

Will the game story be the starter, Andy Pettitte? Will it be another hitter? A baserunning play that saves the Yankees' the game or costs them it? We don't know, and that, perhaps, might be why we love this team so much.

Anything is possible.