It was a very festive opening day in the Bronx yesterday. That's what you get when you hoist another championship banner and hand out World Series rings to the winning participants. Just another day in Yankee Stadium, albeit the first time in the House that George (and the city) built.
No part of the day may have been more poignant or worth celebrating more than the return of Yankees long time trainer Gene Monahan. We were told during Spring Training, which Monahan missed for the first time since 1972, that the man known as Geno was battling a serious illness. Mariano Rivera apparently let it slip during interviews yesterday that it is indeed some form of cancer. Monahan was very emotional, but in good spirits as he came out to accept his ring from manager Joe Girardi and special guests Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford. The YS crowd gave a well deserved standing ovation.
The biggest ovation of the day though went to a member of the Los Angeles Angels. "He's the Hideki you know"...Hideki Matsui, of course, got a huge standing, thank you ovation from the fans and got a group hug from his former teammates. He also got pranked. Derek Jeter orchestrated it all - fake rings given (a Spring Training promotion) to Godzilla and Nick Swisher. Neither even realized what was going on until Jeter and Rivera gave them the real rings.
Bernie Williams threw out the first pitch, though the YES Network nearly missed it coming back from commercial breaks. There was a military fly over and broadway star Kristen Chenoweth (who looked like she was trying to be Carrie Underwood's doppelganger) sang the National Anthem. Then it was time for baseball.
Starter Andy Pettitte was the perfect pick to pitch opening day. After all, he had been on the mound for the clinching win in each round of the 2009 post-season. He also quickly gave Matsui a reminder that he's no longer a Yankee. A first inning strikeout was part of an oh-fer for Godzilla on the day.
Nick Johnson smacked his first Stadium home run in the bottom of the 1st off Ervin Santana and Derek Jeter went deep in the third. The Captain added an RBI single in the 4th (hit #2757) and Alex Rodriguez's brought home two more in the sixth.
The Yankees would need every run they could get, because leading 7-1 in the 9th, David Robertson surrendered a grand slam to former Yankee Bobby Abreu. At least that way Rivera got to be part of the opener by picking up his 3rd save.
photos courtesy of Yahoo Sports
Jorge Posada is off to a hot start. He was 3-4 yesterday to raise his average to .429 and had a pair of doubles to move past Mickey Mantle for 7th place on the team's all-time doubles list. In typical Jorgie fashion, he also got thrown out at the plate.
Pettitte tossed six scoreless innings for his 1st win of the year and the 230th of his career and 193rd as a Yankee. It was also the 4th home opening win for Pettitte.
The loss had to be a minor thing for some of the Angels who had a tough day. Several of them witnessed a suicide from their hotel that morning. A former hotel employee jumped from the roof as the Angels were on their way out.
Not sure how long these will be up on Youtube, but a TOH to Zell's Pinstripe Blog for finding video of the ring ceremony.