Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Javier took the D train home last night. He walked behind the old Yankee Stadium bleachers and around to the players’ gate. Some guys had been around earlier to clean out their lockers, but everyone was gone now.

The off-season was settling in and Javier was missing his baseball team.

“These are the hardest days,” he explained. “It’s a lonely feeling after spending more than seven months with the Yankees. You hang on every piece of news in Spring Training and on every pitch all season long. Then it’s over and everyone goes home.

“Now guys like me gotta wait around for better days,” Javier continued. “I know they’ll get here, but it feels like it’s gonna be a long winter.”

Javier took another look at the players’ gate and then turned to head home.

“Tomorrow will be easier,” he said. “It’s one day closer to next year.”

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Reason To Smile

Mike Mussina gave everyone a reason to smile in the Bronx. His first 20-win season lit up the guys gathered around Juan Carlos’s coffee cart this morning.

“That’s what I was looking for from the last day of the season,” said Javier from Walton Avenue. “The whole team wanted that win for Moose. They got him a lead and the bullpen held on until they could give the ball to Mariano. Even with a sore shoulder you knew that Mariano wouldn’t let that game get away.”

Everyone nodded.

“It was great to see the team pull together,” Javier said. “They finished the season strong and that was important. There’s always good and bad in a baseball season. You try to learn from the bad and you live the good for all it’s worth.

“I’ll save the bad for another day,” Javier continued. “Today is all about Mike Mussina: 20-game winner.”

The guys finished their coffee and went to work smiling.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Questions and Answers

Mike Mussina knows the numbers. He won his 269 big-league game on Tuesday to go one up on Jim Palmer. The 2,810 strikeouts next to his name are seven more than Cy Young. He has 19 wins this year – the third time to that number in his career – and one more shot at 20.

Reporters have been asking about 20 wins for weeks and they finally got Mussina to admit that: “It’s a significant number.”

But then Mussina took over both sides of the interview:

“After playing this long and winning all these games,” Mussina began, “if I don’t win on Sunday, then has it been bad? Has it been lousy, unsuccessful?

“No,” Mussina answered.

“Am I going to be disappointed in what I’ve done for all these years?” Mussina asked.

“No,” Mussina answered again.

“There’s a lot of things you can’t control,” Mussina said. “Winning baseball games is not easy.”

But he admitted:

“It would be a lot of fun to win it.”

Saturday, September 27, 2008

We’ve Got Time

The game ended nearly six hours after it was scheduled to start. The night was filled with mist and drizzle and rain and fog. The grounds crew pulled the tarp on and off the field so many times that their names should have been written on every scorecard.

Almost everyone appeared in the box score. Cody Ransom came in for Derek Jeter and went three for three with two homers and two RBIs. Wilson Betemit pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez and smacked an RBI double.

David Robertson threw two scoreless innings, got the win and took over the three spot in the batting order after Bobby Abreu drove in his 100th run of the season. Nine different Yankees drove in runs. Robinson Cano drove in five.

Most of the Boston fans had been driven from the ballpark by the time Chris Britton got the final out at 12:52 a.m. We totaled our scorebooks in the Bronx on the 88th win of the season.

We go for 89 today and no one in this neighborhood cares how long it takes.

We’ve got time.

Friday, September 26, 2008


New York was soaked this morning. A man on Broadway snapped up his collar and yanked down his hat, but couldn’t keep the rain off his face.

“It’s uncomfortable,” he said, “but that’s not always a bad thing. I think being a little bit uncomfortable – with not making the postseason – is going to be good for the Yankees.

“We had a great run,” the man continued. “I’m proud of what the team has accomplished over the years. I’m proud of what they’ve done this year, too. We didn’t have enough to get to the playoffs, but there are still three games left and we can get to 90 wins. That ain’t bad.”

The man stopped and wiped the rain from his face.

“No one stays on top forever,” he said. “And that’s not just a way to explain what happened this year. It’s a warning for next year to every team in front of us.”

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Meaningful Game

A man on the 2 train bristled at the idea. He scanned the newspaper to confirm what was floating around the Bronx this morning.

“Yup,” he said. “They called the game ‘meaningless.’”

He shook his head.

“There’s no such thing as a meaningless baseball game,” the man explained. “Hughes pitched really well and Nady got a big hit and Abreu clocked a grand slam. The Yankees won and that means a lot to me.

“Take a look at the politicians in Washington if you want something meaningless,” the man said. “Everything that comes out of that place is meaningless to anyone but the richest. They’ve been robbing us for years and now their idea to fix things is to rob us some more.”

The man shrugged.

“The bankers will get their billions and we’ll lose our homes and our jobs,” he said. “About the only meaningful thing we’ll have left is our baseball team.

“I guess we’ll have to settle for that,” the man continued. “What choice do we have?”

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Shot

Mike Mussina took a line-drive shot off his right elbow in the third inning. He pitched through the pain and the fifth and now has a shot to win 20 games.

This would be Mussina’s first stop at 20, but he’s been in the neighborhood before. He has won 18 games three times and now 19 games three times, too.

Some say that close doesn’t count, but Mussina’s numbers certainly do. He has 269 victories – one better than Jim Palmer – and 2,810 strikeouts – seven more than Cy Young – in an 18-year career.

He has taken the ball in plenty of big games – there were the seven shutout innings against Oakland in the 2001 American League Division Series and the game-saving relief effort against Boston in the 2003 American League Championship Series – but every one is important to Mussina.

“You always want to go out and give your team a chance,” he told reporters last night. “The team gave me a chance tonight because I gave the bullpen a lot of outs to get. They’ve been throwing the ball really well when I come out. I can’t win 19 games without those guys pitching behind me.”

The whole team and everyone in the Bronx will be behind Mussina when he takes the mound on Sunday with a shot at 20.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Smiles All Around

People couldn’t wipe the smiles off their faces in the Bronx this morning. They came up the Grand Concourse and down Jerome Avenue and across East 164th Street from High Bridge.

Some of them gathered around Juan Carlos’s coffee cart as the old Yankee Stadium stared across Joyce Kilmer Park and the new Yankee Stadium peeked around the corner at East 161st Street.

“I can’t get The Captain out of my head,” Javier told everyone as he peeled the lid off his coffee. “That speech really got to me. I couldn’t remember most of the words by the time I left the Stadium, but I’ll never forget what it felt like when he spoke.

“Derek made me feel special,” Javier continued. “I’ve always felt lucky to be able to watch him play, but now it’s something more.

“He called us: ‘the greatest fans in the world,’” Javier went on. “That’s something to live up to. I could never let The Captain down.”

All the guys nodded and their smiles widened.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Us Kids

Yesterday belonged to us kids.

It was a day before cable television and video games when we spent summers watching baseball. Mom would send us off with a paper sack stuffed with one of her famous tuna-fish sandwiches and a couple of apples and we would return with a beat-up scorecard and popcorn stuck between our teeth.

It was a day to get into the ballpark early like the old times when you could slip through a delivery gate with the beer kegs and watch early batting practice.

It was a day to see Derek Jeter take his turn in the cage and slash line drives all over the field. And a day to watch Alex Rodriguez flick balls over the wall with ease and to see Jason Giambi hit some deep into the upper deck and you had to smile when Xavier Nady unloaded three-straight blasts to center.

It was a day to watch the pitchers shag in the outfield and see Damaso Marte and Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera work the right-field crowd. And it was a day to laugh every time Marte caught a fly ball behind his back.

It was a day to watch night slip over the Stadium and see big-leaguers hang on the rail and sit on top of the dugout while the legends lit up the field.

Then it was time to see Johnny Damon and Jose Molina hit big homers and have Andy Pettitte give us everything, again.

And it was a night to pump your fist when Phil Coke got a big out to end the sixth and a night to see Joba mow ‘em down before Mariano ended it like he always does: brilliantly.

It was a night to get home late with a beat-up scorecard and popcorn stuck between your teeth.

And it was a time for us kids to remember how much we love this game.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another Good Day

Robinson Cano drove a two-out single up the middle and won the game in the ninth.

It gave my friend Henry – the best Yankees fan – another good day.

“What a game,” Henry said outside the players’ gate. “Robinson Cano was the hero.”

Cano’s hit broke a scoreless tie.

“It was important because we won,” Cano told reporters. “We need to win every game we have left. It felt great to see my teammates celebrating and hear the crowd. It’s something that made me really proud.

“You do it for the fans,” Cano continued. “You want to thank the Yankees fans for their support and for showing up every day to the ballpark.”

Henry returned the favor when Cano left the Stadium.

“It’s Robinson Cano,” Henry shouted. “He’s the hero of today’s game.”

Everyone cheered and Cano waved.

Henry smiled.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Off The Island

Justin arrived at Yankee Stadium in full uniform. He walked proudly through the tunnel and got his first look at the field.

“It’s beautiful,” he said. “I can’t believe I’m finally here.”

His father placed a hand on his shoulder.

“You earned it,” he said.

Justin is a week off of Parris Island. He is a United States Marine and proud of it. His father is proud, too.

“I bought these tickets awhile ago,” his father said. “I surprised him when he got home from basic training.

“He’s a good kid,” his father continued. “He always tries to do what’s right. I didn’t want him to join, but there was no stopping him. He used to look at my Marine photos when he was little and that’s probably where it started.”

Justin doesn’t know where he’s going next. He might be headed to Iraq or maybe Afghanistan.

“But I’m here tonight,” he said. “Nothing else matters right now.”

Justin put an arm around his father.

“Thanks, Dad.”

Friday, September 19, 2008

Another Bronx Tale

Everyone that was gathered around Juan Carlos’s coffee cart this morning kept glancing down the Grand Concourse. They were looking for Javier to come and spin tales about last night’s game.

“What’s taking him so long?” someone asked.

“He was probably up half the night,” someone else said. “I’m sure he was telling anyone who would listen about all the times he’s seen Humberto (Sanchez) pitch.”

Everyone nodded and laughed.

“What’s so funny,” said Javier, who had snuck up behind them by circling around the block.

“You are,” someone said. “We figured you were taking all the credit for Humberto’s perfect inning last night.”

Javier grinned.

“That was great,” he said. “Humberto is gonna be a big part of the future and I’m not just saying that because he’s from our neighborhood.”

“Did you see him leave the Stadium?” someone asked.

“I sure did,” Javier said. “I yelled ‘Way to go Humberto!’”

“What did he do?” someone asked.

Javier smiled.

“He waved.”

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dealing With It

Mr. Soumare was dressed neatly in khaki pants and a uniform shirt with his first name – Mamadou – embroidered on the left chest. He wore a blue bow tie and a broad smile that invited questions on the 2 train this morning.

“Is this train running local?” asked a man getting on at 72nd Street.

“It has been so far,” Mr. Soumare answered.

“Why isn’t it running express?” the man demanded.

“I’m not sure,” Mr. Soumare said. “I just ride here.”

The man laughed and stepped off the train.

“I guess he’s in a big rush,” Mr. Soumare said.

“Why don’t you switch to an express?” someone asked.

“I deal with what I’m given,” Mr. Soumare explained. “I stick with express trains that run local and I look forward to tomorrow if the Yankees don’t win today.”

Mr. Soumare smiled.

“Remember the guy at 72nd Street who was in such a big hurry?” he asked. “I’m sure to be downtown before he is.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Great To See

Juan Carlos gets up early. He pushes his cart to the Grand Concourse, picks up donuts and muffins and makes coffee. Then he waits for everyone else to wake up.

The people start coming when it’s still dark and they don’t stop until almost lunchtime. Juan Carlos makes his lunch from whatever muffins are left over.

“I smear them with peanut butter,” he explained. “They fill me up good.”

Juan Carlos then cleans the coffee maker and gets the propane tank filled before pushing his cart back to the storage building.

Then he walks home and falls asleep with the baseball game on the radio. He doesn’t make it to many games, but last night he sacrificed a good night’s sleep and sat in section 3 – one of his customers gave him the ticket – because Humberto Sanchez is a Yankee.

“He doesn’t know me,” Juan Carlos explained, “but I know him. I saw him pitch in high school and I used to always see him around the neighborhood. Now, he is everything: a ballplayer and a Yankee. I had to come and see.”

Sanchez didn’t pitch last night, but Juan Carlos saw enough.

“I spotted him during the anthem and on the top step of the dugout a few times,” Juan Carlos said. “He warmed up in the bullpen and I thought he might get in there, but he didn’t.”

Juan Carlos smiled and continued:

“It was still great to see.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Never Too Late

Javier got a late start this morning. He dragged down from his Walton Avenue apartment and made a quick stop at Juan Carlos’s cart for coffee – regular with two sugars – and a jelly donut.

“I need it to go,” Javier snapped. “I’m late for work, again.”

“You gotta quit hangin’ out at the Stadium all night,” Juan Carlos said.

“I got caught up in a conversation,” Javier explained. “There are some things that can’t wait until morning. They need to be dealt with in a bleary-eyed frenzy.”

Juan Carlos laughed as he finished packing the coffee and donut in a paper bag.

Javier smiled and said:

“Besides, it’s all about the game and it’s never too late for that.”

Monday, September 15, 2008

Neighborhood Legends

The news was carried by the wind.

It blew across the Harlem River and came down every street in High Bridge. It cut over on East 164th Street and moved along River Avenue passed the construction of the new Yankee Stadium and behind the bleachers of the old Yankee Stadium.

Then it slipped around the corner at East 157th Street and came up to the Grand Concourse. It swirled down to Mott Haven and up to East Tremont and over to Hunts Point.

“Humberto Sanchez is coming home.”

The guys gathered around Juan Carlos’s coffee cart couldn’t stop smiling.

“The kid is going to be a Yankee,” said Juan Carlos, who gave his regulars free donuts to celebrate. “He will be pitching at the big ballpark.”

Juan Carlos shook his head.

“It’s hard for some of us to put that into words,” he said, “but we are all very happy.”

Sanchez became a local legend pitching at South Bronx High School. Then it was on to Rockland Community College and Connors State Junior College. He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and made minor-league stops in Oneonta, New York and Grand Rapids, Michigan and Lakeland, Florida and Erie, Pennsylvania and Toledo, Ohio. Then there was the trade to Yankees and Tommy John surgery and rehab and another minor-league trip through Tampa, Florida and Trenton, New Jersey.

Someone banged on Juan Carlos’s apartment door last night and told him that the long journey was over and Sanchez had been called up to the big leagues. He thought he would be able to bring the good news to his customers this morning.

“They all knew,” he said. “It was like everyone was informed the instant Humberto got the call.”

Neighborhood legends travel on the wind around here.

Feats Speak

Mike Mussina passed Cy Young in strikeouts on Saturday. Then Derek Jeter tied Lou Gehrig in hits at Yankee Stadium and Mariano Rivera tied Lee Smith on the all-time saves list on Sunday.

There’s really nothing else that needs to be said about any of that.

Some feats speak for themselves.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Few And Far Between

An early day had turned into a long night as the last of the crowd trickled down the ramps at Yankee Stadium. Everyone was feeling good after a comeback win in the second game of a doubleheader, but two people near gate 4 were doing better than the rest.

Maybe it was their one-of-a-kind T-shirts – one said “I am Phil Coke’s Grams” and the other said “I am Phil Coke’s Gramps” – or maybe it was the fact that their grandson just had another strong outing.

“Phil had a great game tonight,” someone said. “He’s really pitching well.”

More people gathered around Phil Coke’s Grams and Gramps.

“That was some double play he started,” someone else said. “He looked like Jeter on that one.”

“He looks best when he’s pitching like Phil Coke,” another person said. “Lefties like him are few and far between. I think he’s gonna be a big part of this team for a long time.”

Phil Coke’s Grams and Gramps smiled.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Efficient Performance

Phil Coke worked efficiently in his first Yankee Stadium appearance. He jumped to the top step of the dugout and fielded baseballs in the rain. Then he ducked back into the dugout with an armload, signed each one and redistributed them to the fans. This was done over and over until everyone was satisfied.

Coke smiled and waved and was ready to head back to the clubhouse when a small group behind home plate caught his eye. He nodded, walked through the puddles and went to work with no cover.

He cradled each item – balls, baseball cards, photos, scorecards – in his hand and bent at the waist to shield them from the rain. He signed again and again until everyone here was satisfied, too.

An efficient performance for the lefty from Sonora, California.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Peanut Butter And Wins

Dinner plans were carried in an over-stuffed sack this morning.

“I brought an extra sandwich,” said Jimmy D. as he waited for the 2 train. “I won’t have time to get anything after work so I’ll eat on the way to the game.

“I’m going with peanut butter,” he continued. “That’s the same thing I had the night Aaron Boone hit the extra-inning homer to win the pennant. I remember still tasting it in the back of my throat when I was cheering that ball over the wall.”

Jimmy D. laughed to himself.

“It’s funny how you remember things like that,” he said. “I guess peanut butter will always taste like a pennant to me.”

“Do the Yankees always win when you eat a peanut butter sandwich?” someone asked.

“I’m sure they don’t because I eat them all the time,” Jimmy D. answered. “But I don’t remember those games.”

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Boxed In

Every day revolves around baseball. Yesterday afternoon’s game in Anaheim wasn’t enough to get me out of work, but around game time I did end up in a room with a radio and a bunch of boxes to pack and ship.

I listened and taped and stacked and beat the boxes like drums in the fifth inning when Andy Pettitte struck out two with the bases loaded. I held my breath when the count went to 3-2 on Robb Quinlan and I banged one of the boxes when his hit scored three runs for the Angels.

I tried to will the Yankees back inning after inning and box after box. I was drumming again in the ninth with the tying runs on base and Hideki Matsui at bat. The game ended quietly with just a single thump on top of the last box.

I hauled everything to the shipping department and headed home on the 2 train.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rest Easy

A sleepy 2 train rolled through the Bronx and under the Harlem River this morning. Carl – carrying a backpack with a hardhat clipped to the side – got on at 125th Street. He squeezed into a seat and quickly dozed off.

The train jerked him awake at 116th Street and again at 110th Street.

“A late night, huh?” asked the woman sitting next to him.

“The Yankees are playing on the West Coast,” Carl answered.

The woman smiled.

“I hope they won for you,” she said.

“Yeah, they did,” Carl said. “That makes it worth the effort.

“Today is a day game so I’ll get to sleep at a decent hour,” he continued. “I’ll rest easy if they can win another one.”

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Looking For Answers

The Bronx was up late last night. It had already moved into early morning when people leaned toward their televisions looking for answers after another loss.

Joe Girardi spoke and so did Derek Jeter and Carl Pavano. Pudge Rodriguez talked about his confrontation with Torii Hunter and the dugout-clearing incident that followed.

None of them had any answers.

“If we knew what was wrong we’d fix it,” Jeter said. “We just have to keep playing hard and find a way to win games.”

Maybe we’ll all get some answers tonight.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Clearing Space

Javier needed some space this morning. He skipped coffee at Juan Carlos’s cart and walked down Walton Avenue past 149th Street – where he usually gets the 2 train – and then cut across the 145th Street Bridge into Harlem.

“It was a nice walk,” he explained. “I cleared my head and started to wrap my mind around some things.”

He hopped on the 3 train at 148th Street with a whole new attitude.

“I can’t let other people influence how I feel about my baseball team,” Javier explained. “Writers and broadcasters all have their opinions and that’s fine, but I need to use that to decide how I feel.

“Baseball can’t always be some singular quest to make the playoffs and win the World Series,” he continued. “It’s been that way for a long time around here so you get caught up in it, but watching my team play good baseball is what it’s really about. That’s all anyone can ever ask for and that’s all I want over these last three weeks.”

Javier looked up and down the packed subway car.

“It feels good to clear some space,” he said. “This is between me and my team.”

Sunday, September 7, 2008


The Yankees will play through Sunday dinner. That’s the price of baseball on the west coast and everyone in the Bronx is ready to pick up their share of the tab.

Jose, who lives up on the Grand Concourse, is going to wait and grab something after the last out.

“I’ll meet up with some of the guys,” he said. “We’ll get dinner and talk about the game. I don’t care about the food, but I hope the conversation is good.”

Jon from High Bridge is having dinner at his mother’s place.

“She’ll have everything on the table early,” Jon explained. “We won‘t miss the first pitch. She’s done this before.”

Javier has done this before, too. He plans to dine in front of his television.

“I’m gonna pick up from the chicken joint,” Javier explained. “I’ll get a big box of chicken and one of everything on the side – mashed potatoes and corn and cole slaw and beans and french fries – and maybe I’ll go ahead and get some dessert.”

Javier smiled and then continued:

“But I’ll save the dessert until after the Yankees win.”

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Javier didn’t climb out of bed until nearly noon. He was up late trying to get the Yankees a win in Seattle.

“I wasn’t much help,” he admitted. “I was loud, but I guess they were just too far away to hear me. Maybe my voice will carry better tonight or maybe that ball Robbie hit in the eighth will carry over the wall.”

Javier lugged those hopes out of his Walton Avenue apartment. Then he stopped by and talked to the guys playing dominoes in Joyce Kilmer Park.

“Tough game last night,” Javier shot.

They all agreed.

“I gotta go get some breakfast,” Javier said.

“Isn’t it a little late for breakfast?” someone asked.

“Yeah,” someone else said. “This is time for brunch.”

“I ain’t much of a brunch guy,” Javier said. “I’ll probably get a grilled cheese sandwich and have them throw an egg on it. Is that close enough?”

“That’s about as close to brunch as the Yankees were to winning that game last night,” someone said.

“That’ll have to do for now,” Javier said. “But I want a win tonight.”

Friday, September 5, 2008


A man at the end of the counter carefully folded the newspaper and placed it next to a plate of bacon, eggs and whole-wheat toast. He dug into his breakfast and started to digest last night’s loss.

“Everyone was disappointed,” he said. “The Yankees got it going in the ninth, but it just wasn’t enough.

“It’s hard when there’s the feeling that you have to win every game,” the man continued. “I know that’s the position they’re in, but every loss shouldn’t feel like the end of the world.

“They’re coming up against some pretty good teams,” the man explained. “You play to win and see how it comes out. That’s what makes baseball fun.”

The man caught the stares of everyone at the counter.

“That’s right,” he shot. “Baseball is fun.”

They all smiled and finished breakfast.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Meeting Expectations

Javier peeled the lid off his coffee and smiled at the thought of 23 more games.

“I love the way the Yankees are playing ball,” he told the guys gathered around Juan Carlos’s coffee cart. “They are tough to beat and it’s fun to watch.”

Everyone nodded.

“I can’t wait for tonight’s first pitch,” Javier said. “Last night I heard A-Rod say, ‘Every game is the most important game.’

“That’s all I want from my team,” Javier continued. “And I think we can expect that the rest of the way.”

They all smiled.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Javier woke up this morning still thinking big. He stretched his back and ripped into a day-old bagel before heading down five flights to Walton Avenue.

He cut down East 157th Street and grabbed a newspaper at the bodega on Gerard Avenue. He smiled at the headline – Yankees Not Willing To Give In Just Yet – as he walked along River Avenue and down the stairs to the D train.

He settled into a seat on the last car and started reading:

“I think we’ve gone through the frustrating and disappointing points,” General Manager Brian Cashman said. “The focus is on the small things: concentrating on today’s game, trying to pick up a game a week and get to Fenway Park and making that series meaningful. That’s the simple way to look at it.”

Javier nodded and his focus narrowed.

“Is it too much to ask to pick up a game a week or something along those lines?” Cashman asked. “It’s not out of the realm of possibility.”

Javier smiled and kept reading.

“Well, that’s no pressure,” Mike Mussina said. “We pick up a game a week and then we’ve got to sweep them in Boston. Let’s just win on the day we’ve got to play. It’s that simple.”

“Yeah,” Javier said. “We’ve got to keep it simple and focus small so big things will happen. There’s just one game to win tonight and that would be big enough for me.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Coke And A Smile

Fingernails were chewed down and scorecards were a mess when it was finally over. The Yankees needed almost four hours and 13 runs to beat the Detroit Tigers on Labor Day, but a win is always worth the effort.

And watching the postgame interview with Phil Coke – who struck out two in his Major League debut – made a bunch of tired fans smile in the Bronx.

“I was extremely excited,” Coke told YES reporter Kim Jones. “It was something I always hoped to do. I can’t really put it into words. It hasn’t set in.”

Coke talked about the cab ride from the airport and the feeling of standing on a big-league field for the first time. Then he went on about his catcher and the hitters and who was watching back home.

“My family and friends,” he said. “And pretty much my whole hometown of Sonora, California.”

Everyone in Coke’s new baseball home – the Bronx – was watching and smiling, too.

Monday, September 1, 2008

True Colors

A reporter fired the question at Joe Girardi after yesterday’s loss:

“Will this 10-game road trip show what this team is made of?”

“We have to play our best baseball the rest of the way,” Girardi answered. “If things don’t go your way, one at-bat or one pitch, you’ve got to get back up and fight. When things are down, that’s when people show their true colors.”

The Yankees will wear road gray when they hit Detroit today. Then it will be on to Tampa and Seattle and Los Angeles.

There’s a little less than a month left in the season. That’s almost four weeks. It’s exactly 26 games and the Yankees need every one of them.

What they do in these 26 games is what this team is really made of.