The editors over at Pinstripe Alley asked for some words on my favorite moment of the 2009 season (other than game 6 of the World Series, of course.)
After sifting through a season's worth of game entries, I tried to narrow it down, as I had attempted to do so in my Season Epilogue.
- After losing opening day and having to hear about it from every single Yankee hater in the country, BUT then seeing my sisters demonstrate why Yankee fans are so much better than everyone else
- Seeing A-Rod go deep on the first pitch he saw of the season
- The 15-inning pitcher's duel against the Sox
- The 4-game sweep against the Twins that saw 3 consecutive walkoffs
- Mo getting his 500th save
- Mo getting his 1st ribbie
- A random moment when Melky tripped running to second in the regular season Phillies series which prompted fits of hyteria from Cano
- Another random moment when Ramiro Pena executed an astounding double play with Cano against the Mets, in a 15-0 win against Santana.
- A-Rod's walkoff pop-up against the Mets
- Game 2 of the ALCS that I went to with Keith, and the sound of Yankee Stadium when A-Rod went deep to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th. "HE DID IT AGAIN! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! HE DID IT AGAIN!"
- Damon's double steal that helped win Game 4 of the World Series
How do you pick one? Well, when it comes down to it, I had to go with my boy.
Someone once asked how he can be my favorite player when I don't even get to see him play that much. Good point. I mean, my sister lives and dies for A-Rod. So much so that she did a search on Facebook for every Alex Rodriguez and sent them all requests to "be in an open relationship" with her, just so she could change her status to "In an open relationship with Alex Rodriguez." I don't know what's weirder, that or the fact one of them accepted.
Regardless, I don't know if I feel that same kind of kinetic passion for Mariano Rivera as my sister does for A-Rod. I just know that he is my favorite. I love his attitude, his ethics, his unmatched resiliency and consistent superiority. His cool, his presence. All of it.
So I had to go with Mariano Rivera Day.
500 and 1.
So here it is, my piece on my Favorite Moment of the 2009 Yankee Season:
"That (Mariano) Rivera guy, we don't need to face him anymore. He needs to pitch at a higher level, ban him from baseball. He should be illegal."
- Twins Manager Tom Kelly, April 28, 1996
Would Zack Morris look as cool if not for Screech Powers’ perennial buffoonery? Maybe that’s the real reason behind scheduled Subway Series every year. A poll done on WFAN once revealed that Mets fans consider the series with the Yankees to be the most important one every season, which just brings to amusing light the skewed set of priorities and bag of issues surgically attached to every Amazin’ loyalist.
On the weekend of June 26-28 this past season, the Yanks headed to Shea II, two weeks after the Mets had paid their “rivals” a visit in their new digs—a series that can be reduced to two words: “Castillo. Drop.”
On Sunday, June 28, the Mets and Yankees faced each other for the final time that season, the NYY looking for a sweep in Queens, the NYM looking to stop embarrassing themselves and some way liberate themselves from the stigma of the only known walk-off infield pop-up in recent memory.
It was a good game to end the weekend, albeit a bizarre one. The Yanks had tacked up 3 runs in the first inning…and then were hitless for the rest of the game. Wang (Yeah, CHIEN MING WANG. Seriously.) had managed to limit the Mets to 2 runs and 4 hits. (Which is like saying, Claire Danes managed to out-fence Estelle Getty, but semantics…)
The ninth inning rolls around, and we’re at 3-2, and in comes K-Rod, the latest pitcher to having their powers muted upon slipping on the Mets uniform.
(Pretty soon, no one but the bravest are going to want to pitch for them. It’s useless. You cannot retain your dominance as a hurler if you are pitching for the Mets. It’s like chicks trying to date the notorious player—they all think it’ll be different for them, but it never is.)
Annnnd pretty soon we’re looking at runners on first and second with 2 outs, and Jeter coming to bat. And the next 15 minutes would eventually be known as my Favorite Moment of the 2009 Season.
First, a hilarious segment when the Yankees try to "trick" the Mets into thinking Cervelli (and not Mo) is batting after Jeter, who, after getting a first pitch strike, gives this look like, "Umm, ok. You, uh, know who you're facing next, right? Just checking."
Mo comes to bat, and my heart leaps. My favorite all-time Yankee. Batting. See, when your hero is A-Rod or Jeter or Posada, you get your fill of them every game. You get to see them make clutch hits and uncanny plays. The media is all over them, they get the postgame interviews, they get their character elevated to cartoonish proportions.
But when the guy you put on a pedestal is quietly brilliant, his presence dictated by an “as needed” basis…you don’t get the luxury of having the essence of the game cloaked in his greatness.
But that night, I got it.
I wanted his at-bat to last forever, I couldn’t stop smiling, and when he took a Gary Sheffield-inspired cut at a pitch, I almost died of happiness right then and there. SWING AWAY, MO!
(On Wednesday of the week prior in a game against the Braves, Mo came to bat with bases loaded, swung away and lined out to left center. He flashed a blinding grin as he trotted to first, and it was the happiest I had ever been to see a Yankee strand 3 runners on base in the 9th inning.)
But not this time. He walked.
And brought in the 4th run.
#42 brought in his 1st ribbie to make the score 4-2.
And then in the bottom of the ninth, he closed it out for his 500th save.
500 and 1.
June 28, 2009. The moment I knew this was The Year.