Tonight I attended the Yankees--Diamonbacks opening game of a three-game interleague series and a couple things came to mind:
First: Bobby Abreu is the ultimate baseball player. Think about it. For the first two months, if not two and a half, of the MLB season, Bobby has been torn apart by fans and the media alike. I remember doing it myself in April when many fan were still on the "hate A-Rod" ban-wagon. I distinctly remember hte situation too. It was during the opening series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who were leading late in the ball game. Stepping to the plate in his normal three-spot was Bobby Abreu who was struck out looking before A-Rod struck out swinging. Abreu's failure was unrecognized, whereas A-Rod, now in the media spotlight, was "boo'd" relentlessly. Now, as we're all aware Alex Rodriguez has once again become the "apple" in the "eye" of most Yankees' fans, whereas Bobby Abreu has had a harder time.
While Abreu could've rolled over and died like the Alex Rodriguez on 2006, he persevered. After the game, Abreu talked about going into the batting cage day after day, talking to teammates, coaches, and even friends of his who could offer advice to him. Today, Abreu launched a three-run bomb off 2006 Cy Young Award Winner Brandon Webb in the bottem of the first, supplying the Yankees all the runs they would need to win tonights game.
Does this make Abreu a better player than A-Rod? No. However, his perseverance must be recognized. In 2006, A-Rod essentially crumbled in the spotlight of the New York media and fan criticism, whereas Bobby Abreu used it as a motivational factor, which propelled him to the state he is playing in today. The point I am trying to make here is that Bobby Abreu is one of the few modern additions to this Yankee team that embodies the old-school form of what it means to be a Yankee. Abreu takes pitches, drives the ball to all fields, and can handle the pressure of the media and fans. It would be comepletely assinine for the Bombers to opt out of his team option in 2007 in order to give Melky Cabrera additional playing time. While I love Melky and the energy he brings to the team, this is not the guy he should be replacing; which brings be to my next point:
Second, Johnny Damon love being a Yankee. After every game he is the first player out of the locker room and will always shoot the media straight. That is to say, give them the answers they want to hear. The answers that Derek Jeter would nevere give them. The DH role that Damon has come to fulfill these past few weeks seems ideal for him. It's ironic as the successor to Bernie Williams ends up succeeding him in his role as DH/utility outfielder. Many thought it would be at least three years before Damon came anywhere near entering that role. However, shin-splints being what they are, Damon has entered this role a year or two early.
This brings us to Jason Giambi, a player who has fought year in and yea rout for the respect and admiration of Yankees' fans. With Damon, Giambi's long-time buddy, in the DH slot, this leaves little room for the large-and-in-charge slugger. All signs point to the Yankees attempting to get out of the final years of Jason Giambi's contract with the team. While, obviously, no team would take on the the contract of Giambi via trade, offense-deficient ball clubs like the Angels, Dodgers, and Orioles would look to add the bat of the "Giambino."
Lastly, (as it's getting late) the Yankee starting pitching is carrying the team during this stretch. Joe Torre said it himself: "This streak is predicated upon by starting pitching." It happened tonight with Wang, the staff ace, and looks to continue tomorrow night when Mike Mussina takes the hill. This cannot make fans feel too confident as the Moose has had his struggles the past few starts. One can only hope that the offense can back Mussina enough that he can have a hiccup or two during Wednesday night's start. On Thursday afternoon the Yanks will send out old reliable Andy Pettitte, which mean that even if Mussina stumbles and the Yanks fall to the D-Backs on Wednesday the club could enter this weekend's Subway Series with a 7-1 record over their last eight, which is NOT bad at all!
To conclude, make sure you tune into 90.7 FM or WFUV.org this Saturday from 1-4 in order to not only hear the longest running sports call in show that in One on One, but to also hear live game updates from Yankee Stadium by yours truly.
Thanks for reading again and I'll see you next time.