All offseason long, the great folks here at Yanks Go Yard have looked ahead and graded the players and front office from the past year. What will change about the Yankees in 2013 and how will the team be different from the one in 2012? On that note, I wanted to talk about my favorite moment of 2012 that now involves an ex-Yankee based on recent weeks.
On October 10th, 2012, the New York Yankees were taking on the Baltimore Orioles in Game 3 of the ALDS. Both teams were tied at one game apiece. On that night, the Yanks found themselves down 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th inning staring a 2-1 series deficit right in the face. With 1 out, manager Joe Girardi made a gutsy move and benched third baseman Alex Rodriguez for outfielder Raul Ibanez. Ibanez was having a red hot stretch, which included a game a week before against Boston where he tied the game in the 9th and won it in extra innings to, in essence, clinch the AL East.
Going back to October 10th, Ibanez faced off against O’s closer Jim Johnson. Johnson was one of the best closers in the American League during the regular season, but had struggled in Game 1 of this series when he gave up a home run to Russell Martin in the 9th inning. On this night, the result was the same as Ibanez deposited a ball over the right field fence to tie the game and keep the Yankees alive. He would later go on to hit a walk-off home run against Brian Matusz in the 12th.
While the Yankee postseason was filled with a lack of clutch hitting, Ibanez was a bright spot in that whenever he came to the plate, you always felt the Bombers had a chance to make a comeback. That is why I was upset to see Ibanez sign with the Mariners for only $3 million without even an offer from the Yankees. I know the Bombers have become more fiscally responsible this year, but $3 million for a 4th outfielder who can get big hits off the bench. I know he would be 40 years old, but there would have to be a spot for him on this team for a player like him.
Despite the offseason that has featured a lack of big name coming under the Christmas tree, the Yankees still gave us a moment for 2012 that will reminisce in fans’ hearts for the next few years. It’s like what John Sterling used to say for Ibanez’s home run calls. He was Raul and he was “so cool”.