Last night, I had the honor of witnessing live one of the most incredible baseball games I have ever watched, (and growing up in my house, Yankee games are practically religious holidays.) My mother, one of the biggest Yankee fans I know, and I headed to the Bronx for game three of the American League Division Series where our Yanks would be seeking a 2-1 lead over the (normally pathetic, but miraculously good this year) Baltimore Orioles.
Playoffs in the Bronx are a special time. A time when it is completely valid to take off work and spend the day going through the most ridiculous superstitions in order to be sure that you did your part to help the boys in blue in anyway you came. Playoffs for my family, are a time for togetherness. For most of the season, our season tickets are casual events. Whomever is off from work or is easiest able to get to the Bronx, goes to the games, simple as that. But playoffs, oh there is nothing quite like postseason baseball. My mom and I, decked out in pinstripes, got the the stadium and, as usual, started our evening with celebratory drinks (as any Yankees fan knows, you'll never get up to the bar in the Tommy Bahamas lounge twice, so make sure you make use of the two-drinks-per-ID rule! We did.)
Our postseason seats this year are in section 105, three rows from the field. Essentially, we had an incredible few of right fielder Nick Swisher and all of his antics all night long. The electric atmosphere throughout the stadium was expected as the American League East Champions finally returned home to claim their home field advantage that they'll maintain throughout the postseason. The game started in incredible fashion as the entire Yankees team ALDS roster and regular season roster was announced. The spotlight was completely hijacked when Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the game who suffered a season ending injury early in the season was announced. The stadium errupted at Mo took the field first for the introductions and then as "Enter Sandman" started playing. Mo took the field and threw out the ceremonial first pitch decked out head to toe in his uniform. God, was it great to see him on that pound again even if only for a minute.
Anyway, fast forward to the middle of the ninth inning. The Yankees are down 2-1. Arod, the one time home run hitting superstar, has done NOTHING. I mean nothing. As in every-time-he-comes-to-bat-the-stadium-boos-louder-than-they-do-when-Buck-Showalter-comes-to-the-mound nothing. Throughout the series Yankee fans have been begging for Arod to be moved down in the order, but no such luck. Enter Joe Girardi's gut instinct. The Yankees skipper pulled Arod, who was DHing last night, and put in the ever clutch Raul Ibanez. Raul steps up and KILLS the ball, sending it propelling over the center field wall and sending the game to extra innings. All was quiet in the eleventh as batter after batter came up and was sent down. Then came the bottom of the twelfth. When Ibanez came up for a second time, no one could help the 'what ifs.' Before his first at bat I had looked at the woman next to me and said, "I'm so happy he's in!" She responded, "I think everyone here is!" BOOM Home run. So, being the superstitious sports fan I am, I thought, "Let's do everything like last time." So we did. The woman next to me and I had the same conversation, we turned to Raul, and with a swing of the bat the ball came soaring in our direction, for a split second I thought I'd be able to catch that historic ball, but it flew over our heads to the upper deck. GONE. RAUUUUUUL!!! Just as we had after the game tying, we went absolutely wild! The whole stadium was jumping up and down, hugging one another, high fiving anyone and everyone we could reach. My mom celebrated so hard she somehow banged her leg and is left with a nasty bruise on her upper thigh, but it was all worth it. The Yankees win, theeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win!
What a night. What a win. What an incredible decision by Girardi. What amazing at bats for Raul Ibanez. And, probably most shocking of all, what poise and professionalism by the once completely childish Alex Rodriguez. He was not only the first to congratulate Raul after both home runs, but he also gave impressive interviews afterwards preaching nothing but the importance of a team win and admitting that a younger version of himself probably wouldn't have reacted so maturely. Here's to Joe, Raul, the great captain, Derek Jeter, and the road to a 28th World Series Championship.