I don't really believe in ghosts, or magic, but Ibanez really is great at getting the big hit this year, which is all the more remarkable when they are pinch hits. It's not just that he's the hot hand, but when it comes to extra-innings heroics, he's pretty much the only hot hand on the Yanks these days, with the possible exception of Russell Martin. After all, not a single Yankee got on base between Ibanez's two home runs.
So, contrary to what some may have expected from me, I really didn't have a problem with Girardi pinch-hitting for A-Rod in that spot. After all, I wrote yesterday that I thought Raul Ibanez, when he started, should bat in front of Alex Rodriguez, batting fifth, with A-Rod batting sixth. Was I surprised Girardi pinch-hit for A-Rod, especially after insisting on batting him third? Yes. But it was the right decision.
And I don't agree with Michael Kay and the sportswriters in town that say that pulling Rodriguez there was a worse snub than what Joe Torre did to A-Rod by batting him eighth in the 2006 ALDS. Here's why: Torre did that to A-Rod to scapegoat him and try to run him out of town; it wasn't anything about winning the game. Remember that Torre never explained what he was trying to do at the time, other than to chastise reporters for not noting that he had benched Jason Giambi. And the next spring, Torre said he batted A-Rod eighth to get Melky Cabrera some at-bats, and not a single reporter bothered to note that Melky batted ninth in that game!
So I think the intentions are very different here. Girardi did this because, as he put it in the postgame, he had a gut feeling about Ibanez. And frankly, although Rodriguez may have been humiliated by being taken out, things would have been far, far worse for his reputation in town if he had gotten to stay in the game, only to strike out against Jim Johnson. He knows Girardi wasn't doing it to stick it to him.
To his credit, and contrary to what the naysayers would like to believe, I thought Rodriguez handled what had to be humiliating for him with grace and class, and was truly being a team player. A-Rod doesn't exactly have a good poker face -- you can tell what he's feeling by looking at him (as Squawker Jon sez about moi!) And Rodriguez looked like the happiest person on the Yankees went Ibanez went deep each time. If he was faking those emotions, he deserves an Oscar.
* * *I do have a bone to pick with some so-called Yankee "fans" out there. The schadenfreude some of them had about A-Rod last night was disgusting. With these folks, there's no sense of perspective, or joy about the win -- it's all hate, hate, hate about A-Rod.
Sorry, folks, but if you are more excited that A-Rod got embarrassed, than you are that Raul Ibanez won the game for the Yankees, as I saw with many people on Facebook last night, you're not a good Yankee fan. If that's all you get out of that victory, then please, go root for the Red Sox. As much as Carl Pavano got on my last nerve, I still rooted for him to do well. I root for all the Yankees to win. Silly me.
So I couldn't hold my tongue last night on Facebook when I saw Luigi Squeegee, the bat-boy who wrote that tell-all book on the Yankees that the team made sure got very little ink, positively gleeful over A-Rod getting taken out of the game, writing post after post making fun of him, and writing that he would have to sell his A-Rod autographed bat before the memorabilia market for it cratered.
I pointed out to him that by his own admission in his book, Rodriguez tipped him better than anybody else in the league did (not to mention giving him the autographed bat!) and that it was really ungrateful to bash him like that. Mr. Squeegee had no excuse in return for his breathtaking lack of gratitude, other than to claim that Rodriguez only gave him the great tips to outdo what Jeter did, thereby turning a good thing into a character flaw. Mr. Squeegee then complained about that Esquire magazine interview A-Rod did 12 years ago, where Rodriguez bashed Jeter. And people think I hold grudges!
What do you think? Tell us about it!