Say what you will about George Steinbrenner’s stewardship of the Yankees. It certainly had moments of all kinds. But there’s no question the players desperately wanted to deliver The Boss a win tonight in the worst way. They nearly snapped under the strain of it, falling behind twice, but an RBI single in the ninth by Nick Swisher made the Yanks walk-off winners.
“The Boss would’ve been proud,” Derek Jeter said.
That theme passed through the Yankee clubhouse after tonight’s 5-4 win. Players were moved by tonight’s pregame ceremony, which, as you know, included a quick speech by Jeter that led to a moment of silence and another touch so solemn that you could hear the team’s championship flags ripple in the wind as they flew at half-mast. Mariano Rivera brought a pair of roses to home plate — one for Steinbrenner and one for Bob Sheppard (pictured above; credit: AP).
Jorge Posada said it made him tear. Joe Girardi couldn’t hold back his during a brief postgame press conference. He said “it was a wonderful night.”
Considering how focused Girardi and his players are, it was surprising to hear them talk about the difficulty of ignoring the video tributes between innings. Girardi, Jeter, Posada and Swisher all admitted watching them. The typically unflappable Jeter said he tried to bear down and treat his at-bat with one out and the winning run on second in the ninth as usual. He couldn’t. He wanted to deliver the big hit.
“You can’t help but think about it,” Jeter said.
I’ll have more on Swisher in a bit, but here’s what Girardi shared after tonight’s win: