Occasionally one by one, but usually two or three at a time, each of the Yankees finished this morning’s parade then made his way along a small walkway, up a set of stairs and into City Hall.
That’s Robinson Cano and Freddy Guzman walking up, and that’s Derek Jeter climbing the stairs.
Between the walkway and the steps, a lot of the players stopped to talk to a group of eight or nine of us who were alternating between cell phone cameras and digital recorders.
“You feel like you’re the President,” Jeter said. “You wish you could thank every fan individually.”
Some highlights from that bit of real estate leading to the back steps of City Hall:
• Joe Girardi summing up nicely what was going through his head during the parade: “I think of guys like Alex because of all that was written about his struggles at times, and how great he was for us in the postseason. I think about the four guys that have been here. It’s been a long time since they were able to do that and it was like they were little kids all over again. I think about The Boss a lot.”
• Jorge Posada’s response when asked if there was a particular sign that stood out: “I saw a picture of Matsui holding a baby, and the baby’s face was Pedro. That one stuck in my head.” By the way, Jeter initially wouldn’t bite when we asked what signed he liked most, then someone told him that Posada had told us his favorite sign. The word “Hideki” was hardly out of the reporter’s mouth when… “Matsu holding a baby?” Jeter said. “Yeah, that was funny.”
• Johnny Damon’s reaction to how many people were there: “I can’t believe people were trying to get autographs because, if you sign one, you have to sign three million. I had to nip that in the bud right away.”
• Alex Rodriguez’s line about the season ending and the team going home. I think he’s said something like this before, but it’s a nice quote: “I wish we could just continue to show up and play for no reason. No umpires. No scores. Just show up and have fun like a softball league.”
• Two good lines from the Captain: Jeter said the parade sounded, “almost like the stadium when there are two outs.” He also said this experience easily trumps another famous New York City parade. “We were a part of the Thanksgiving Day parade a couple of years back,” he said. “It’s not even close.”
• Mariano Rivera’s reaction to questions about his sore ribs. Basically, Rivera was a little banged up during the World Series (he said it happened late in the ALCS, Girardi said early in the World Series). Rivera called the pain “manageable,” but almost refused to talk about it because “it doesn’t matter now.” Instead, in typical Rivera fashion, he spoke only of being thankful for the moment. “It was something special,” he said. “I never take it for granted and I always want to have this chance to have this. I thank God for that because one day you won’t be able to do that.”
UPDATE, 8:03 p.m.: Ask and you shall receive (this time at least, because I can provide it). I saw some comment requests for reactions from A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia. I can give you two out of three.
Burnett: “It’s more than I thought it would be. I expected a lot of people, but when you look down every street and all you see is heads in every direction, that’s pretty impressive.”
Teixeira: “We see 50,000 a night, and obviously they’re into it, but when you see millions of New Yorkers, it makes you proud that you play for such a great city.”
Sabathia showed up at pretty much the same time at Teixeira and the group of reporters kind of split. I stayed with Teixeira, but I heard Sabathia said he should have invited LeBron James to show him what a championship parade looks like in New York.