When I first heard that the opening game at The Stadium this year was being postponed to last night I was afraid the whole thing might feel a little anti-climactic. A little after 6:30 however, I was driving back from the store with a 12 pack of Sierra Nevada, a big bag of chips, and as I was listening to every Yankee fans' crazy uncle John Sterling start the pre-game show, the sun was shining, it was 65 degrees outside and all was once again right with the world. Baseball was back, and so was spring.
The vibe at the Stadium was probably more electric than it would have been in the rain and cold the day before. YES's pre-game tribute to The Stadium was great. The fans were out in full force and both teams came to play and to play hard.
I'll admit I was a little nervous heading into the game. Starting the season off against one of the American League's toughest pitchers in Roy Halladay would ordinarily be tough, but there were a lot of questions floating around about Chien Ming Wang. He looked awful when we saw him last against the Indians in the divisional playoffs, and his spring training did little to restore confidence in the young sinkerballer.
You don't win 19 games two years in a row by accident, however, and I was pretty sure that, over the course of the season, Wang would be fine. But, would he be good enough last night?
The answer, as we now know, was 'Yes. Outside of one rough inning, he'll be the same great pitcher he's been for the last two years. Everyone sit down and relax.' Seven strong innings of two run ball later, I looked at the scoreboard and thought to myself 'Almost time for the Joba and Mo Show'. And, a great show it was. It went exactlly the way Yankees and Yankee fans would have wanted it to go.
A few other thoughts on the game:
It was good to hear A-Rod getting such a great ovation from the crowd and starting the season off with an RBI. I think all the problems he's had in the past in New York are officially behind him, and we can all settle in and watch one of the great Yankees of all time for the next 10 years.
Giambi looked great both in the field and at the plate. I think he really wants one more contract from somebody next year and is gonna be much better this year than he's been in awhile.
I don't think you can overstate how glad Yankee fans are this morning that Melky Cabrera didn't get traded. I felt my Melky love rekindled during the introductions when he bounded out of the dugout with a huge smile on his face like some oversized Little Leaguer. He then goes out and puts together a mini highlight reel out in centerfield during the fourth inning, and tops that with an only-in-Yankee-Stadium home run to tie the game in the sixth.
Overall, it was a great night of baseball that really made you feel like it was the middle of summer. At the end of the game, the Yankees stood on the field victorious under the Stadium lights while Frank Sinatra sang 'New York, New York', a scene which makes me feel better than all but about 4 or 5 other things on this planet. Yes, little darling, the smiles returning to the faces...
Above is the first of what will, hopefully, be more than 162 sketches of scenes from this year's Yankee games. It's a quick colored pencil sketch of Melky's diving catch in the fourth. Each game's sketch will be a little different. Some will be a little more detailed than others, and I'll be using a bunch of different mediums. The one above was done really quickly this morning while I was still feeling the effects of the aforementioned Sierra Nevadas. Stick around and we'll see what happens the rest of the year. It should be fun.