Game number one, the final opening day at the old Yankee Stadium, was a very exciting “opening act” that electrified the Stadium crowd as the Yankees won, 3-2, over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Melky Cabrera was the big star of the game, as he made two great catches in centerfield, in the fourth inning. The first one by leaping up on the right-centerfield wall, after a long run, to rob Lyle Overbay of an extra base hit; and, the second gem by diving through the beautiful night air in left-centerfield to catch a hard line drive [as he flew to the ball], by the next Jays batter, Aaron Hill, preventing a probable triple, for the final out of the inning. This sparked the crowd as they gave Cabrera a thunderous ovation, as they chanted, Melky, Melky, Melky !!!
But, the standing ovation was for more than just the great plays. It was a thankful cheer by all Yankee fans that Melky is still “our” centerfielder, and was not exiled to some other team, as was suggested by many in the numerous trade rumors during the off-season. Melky will continue to improve, day-by-day, here in New York, on the biggest stage in the baseball world. And, Yankee fans will get to see it all, as we are proud to have Melky Cabrera as the starting centerfielder on our team!
As if all those heroics were not enough, Melky had more in store for the over-flowing, opening night crowd. In the sixth inning with the Yankees behind 2-1, Cabrera led off the inning. Roy Halladay was pitching a great game up to this point, and had gotten Melky to ground out in third. But, Cabrera was now on fire, energized by his two great plays and the excitement of the crowd. Melky went to battle in this at bat, as he road the count to 3-2, on 9 pitches. And, on the 10th pitch of the AB, Melky lifted a high arcing shot straight down the rightfield line. I could imagine Babe Ruth watching from above, with a big smile on his face, looking down at the flight of the ball, as it so gracefully sailed over the 314 ft. sign for a game tying homerun. This was a great honor for Melky since before this game he was the only Yankee regular starter who had never started in a season opening game. The Babe woud be proud!
Babe Ruth had the flare for the dramatic, and knew the only proper way to open the season was for a Yankee player to hit a homerun on opening day. The Babe christened the grand opening of Yankee Stadium, on April 18, 1923, with a 3-run homerun, in a 4-1 win vs. the Red Sox. And, in the Yankees 2008 home opener, Melky Cabrera kind of christened this Yankee season, [ the final season the Yankees will play here in “The House That Ruth Built”], with his homerun, and inspired play in centerfield, this night.
Of course, Melky Cabrera didn’t do it alone…
Jason Giambi looked in great shape, and played a solid defensive game at first.
Chien-Ming Wang pitched a very strong 7 innings for his first win.
Joba Chamberlain rocked the house when he came into the game in the 8th. He struck out two, and, leaped into the air on the final “K”, pumping his valuable right arm out in front of him, as he proudly sprinted to the Yankee dugout after the final out.
The “Great” Mariano was in “World Championship” form, recording the SAVE as he closed out another win for the Yankees in his Hall of Fame career.
And, Congratulations to Joe Girardi, on his first win as Yankee Manager. It was a very touching moment as Mariano Rivera handed Joe Girardi the “final-out ball”, on the field after the game when all the Yankee players were giving each other victory hugs. It was also an awesome moment seeing Girardi congratulate all his coaches in the dugout after the final out. It was a very emotional game for Joe Girardi, and a great win for the whole Yankee Organization, and all Yankee fans, as October is clearly in everybody’s sight. The number 27 will be a very big one this year, being Girardi’s number, and the number of World Championships the Yankees will have after they win the 2008 World Series.
As the curtains came down on this successful “Opening Night” performance, and everyone took their final curtain call, Babe Ruth, looking down from above, turned off the lights, closed his eyes, said his nightly prayers, and started to dream of another Yankee World Championship. And, as The Babe knows, as well as, all Yankee fans, the New York Yankees are very capable of great theater. From the opening reviews at the start of another Baseball Season, this Yankee team looks to be the start of another long-running New York Yankees “Dynasty” !!!