Every year, I buy a small scorebook that fits perfectly in the front pocket of my computer bag. I use it for every regular season and playoff game, but I never use it in spring training. For spring training games, I always keep score on the disposable lineup sheets that are available in every press box.
Without meaning to, I used those disposable lineup sheets for the first three regular-season games against Tampa Bay. It just never occurred to me to pull out the scorebook and keep an official, lasting record.
“Opening the season in Tampa seemed kind of weird,” Derek Jeter said yesterday. “Almost like we were still in spring training because we never left.”
It really did feel that way. In the press box, writers joked that we should be able to talk to CC Sabathia in the seventh inning, just like we would in an exhibition game. Those first three games felt like a continuation of all the meaningless games the Yankees had played the previous month.
“Once we got on that plane and left Tampa,” Nick Swisher said. “I think something clicked for us to say, alright spring training’s done, and we really need to step it up.”
For whatever reason, the Yankees played better baseball in Baltimore. Of course you could argue that their opponent wasn’t nearly as good — and the Yankees certainly didn’t play perfect baseball — but they got some big hits when they needed them, the bullpen was outstanding and there were finally some signs of life in a team that didn’t have much of a spark in St. Petersburg. The rotation hasn’t looked sharp, and the middle of the order has struggled, but the Yankees have won three in row heading into today’s off day.
“All things considered, it wasn’t a terrible trip,” Mark Teixeira said. “It definitely didn’t start the way we planned on Opening Day, but it happens. We didn’t get the job done in Tampa, but we did here (in Baltimore). We fought and won two really tough games the last two nights.”
That’s true. These past two games were tough games. The Yankees blew plenty of scoring opportunities, but the bullpen kept giving the lineup chances until Swisher and Raul Ibanez finally came through with big hits. It’s still only three games, just like that opening series was only three games, but it’s a much better feeling heading into tomorrow’s home opener.
Spring training is definitely over.
“There’s something about going home,” Joe Girardi said. “And really feeling like the season’s really started when you go home.”
Associated Press photo