The Yankees unveiled the George M. Steinbrenner III monument before last night’s game against the Rays. It’s friggin HUGE. It’s bigger than all of the ‘holy trinity’ monuments of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig combined. If it was up to me, I probably would have made it the same size as the aforementioned monuments of these legendary players. While I do believe Mr. Steinbrenner is as important to the Yankees as Babe Ruth was, I don’t think he was more important. I do think Mr. Steinbrenner changed the game of baseball, but Babe Ruth saved the game after the 1919 ‘Black Sox’ scandal. In my thinking, the monument to Mr. Steinbrenner indirectly implies that he was bigger than Mr. Ruth, which I don’t agree with. On the other hand, you can argue that the Yankees have given Mr. Ruth his due with Babe Ruth Plaza, but I don’t think you can ever say enough about what Babe Ruth did for the game. In fact, I think the Yankees need to add a statue of Mr. Ruth to his plaza, post haste. I also would have preferred that the event was handled more like a celebration of Mr. Steinbrenne’s life rather than a funeral, but I guess it’s a bit too soon for that sort of sentiment, and how they would have accomplished that… well, I admit I don’t have any solid suggestions. I know it was mentioned a million times, but I was impressed to see Joe Torre and Don Mattingly there.That was a classy move on the part of all concerned.
Last night’s game was a bit too close, or rather, closer than it should have been. Ivan Nova, who I believe has a bright future ahead of him, again hit the wall despite a low pitch count and dominating performance, this time through five innings instead of six. I’m still not sure what the problem is: fatigue, pressure, total innings pitched this year, pitching from the stretch rather than the wind up, third time through the order… there is an issue here, but I think it’s fixable. Nova could end up being a valuable player on the Yankees for years to come – I think he’s that good. Boone Logan had a rare off night and didn’t retire anybody, although Mark Teixeira booted a dribbler up the line he probably should have come up with, but it was a tough play. I know it was only the sixth inning, but I was pretty surprised to see Chad Gaudin come into the game in a big spot and after a walk, get a big flyout. Logan or Gaudin walked a runner in… I forget which one did, and they both gave up a walk. I could check game day, but whatever. Kerry Wood has emerged as the setup man – his season has turned around in a major way since coming to the Yankees – I guess playing for a winner makes a big difference to some guys. With Wood in the fold, the Yankees bullpen is stacked and is going to be a huge plus in the playoffs. Mariano Rivera was just not getting the calls last night (he wasn’t the only one), and his velocity seemed down from yesterday, when he blew the save. But two hits, a walk and 1 run weren’t enough for the Rays to catch up to the Yankees offense.
Besides Jorge Posada sitting this one out, I think this is the first time the Yankees have fielded their full team as starters in over a week at least. (I’d guess Francisco Cervelli gets the start when Nova pitches because he’s caught him in the minors.) Curtis Granderson continues to reward my faith. Last night’s two run home run performance to the tune of five RBI was impressive to say the least – I can’t recall seeing anyone hit a homer off the foul poll quite that high. I think I’ve said enough about Kevin Long on more than one occasion, but that guy sure can fix players. It was also nice to see Nick Swisher go 2-2 with an RBI and 2 BB while playing the outfield. It looks like he’s as close to 100% as he’s going to get. A-Rod continues to come up with RBI (that was number 112 on the year) despite not hitting for average or power, but I’ll take it – Alex Rodriguez leads the team in RBI and missed what, almost an entire month? How is that possible? Bizarre, but he’s that good. Even though he’s not hitting the ball out of the park, he hits solid line drives, not squeakers, and he continues to do what matters – plate base runners.
Last night’s win puts the Yankees 1.5 games in front of the Rays with 3 more to play in this series. With the Yankees having their full compliment of players available at home, I think we can confidently hope for a better outcome than last week’s series in Tampa Bay.