Sunday, October 4, 2009

Game 162: Ten Years Gone

So here we are folks, at game 162. It's a little hard to believe isn't it? Thankfully, the Yankees don't have anything to worry about today, so their game is probably the least compelling of the 4 relevant early afternoon sporting events in my opinion. But the game has some interesting connections with the last game of the season 10 years ago.

As Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Leger noted this morning, back in 1999, Joe Girardi had his first taste of managing a big league ball club.

It was October 3rd and the Yankees were playing their last game of the season against the then Devil Rays at Tropicana Field with a playoff spot already secured. Per tradition, Joe Torre turned over the managerial reigns to Paul O'Neill, who appointed Girardi to be the bench coach and David Cone coaching the pitchers. Jorge Posada was behind the plate that game, in his second season as the Yankees' primary catcher.

During the fourth inning, the Rays loaded the bases against journeyman Jeff Juden in what would be his last appearance as a Major League pitcher. The bags were juiced thanks in part to current Yankees broadcaster and former backstop John Flaherty's double. Juden then hit a batter and another run scored on an E3, bringing Randy Winn to the plate with the sacks still packed. Winn pulled off the rare feat of an inside the park grand slam on a line drive over the head of Chad Curtis, blowing the game wide open.

With the game pretty much out of hand, during the sixth inning, O'Neill went down to the locker room to get treatment for his bad back, leaving Girardi in charge and in his words today "high and dry".

Ten years have gone by, Cone and Flaherty work for the Yankees and Girardi is the real manager whose team has the luxury of allowing a player to be skipper for the game. Since he's going to be on the bench anyway, Posada will be acting as manager for the game and can chose two other players to be his bench and pitching coaches.

Jorgie will have some responsibilities to tend to, as he needs to decide when to pull the plug on A.J. Burnett and how to get Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, Mariano Rivera and possibly Phil Hughes some work. He'll also probably shuffle in some bench players as the game wears on as Girardi has done in previous days.

We all know how the 1999 season ended. Let's hope this isn't the last connection this team makes with that one.

Then as it was, then again it will be,
An' though the course may change sometimes,
Rivers always reach the sea.

Flyin' skys of fortune, each have separate ways,
On the wings of maybe, downing birds of prey,
Kind of makes me feel sometimes, didn't have to go,
But as the eagle leaves the nest, it's got so far to go.

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