The Yankees' 3-1 victory over the Indians tonight, coupled with the Red Sox's loss to Toronto, put the Bombers in sole possession of first place for the first time since 2006, according to Brian Hoch's report on MLB.com. No, a half-game isn't exactly a runaway lead, but I decided to take a ride in the way-back machine and see what was going on with the Yanks in '06.
Torre was still the manager and Bernie was still on the roster, and A-Rod was still married to C-Rod as opposed to dating Kate Hudson.
Jeter, Mo and other current Yankees were around, of course. But how about all the bit players, who eventually shuffled off into baseball oblivion? Like...
And a couple of pitchers who left their mark in very different ways...
Good, good times. But what's heartening is that the 2009 Yankees are a better team than the 2006 model that won the division, and tonight's victory over the Indians showed why.
Pettitte may be 37 with an apparently stiff back, and he put runners on base in every inning. But he held the Tribe scoreless for five-plus. Not bad for an end-of-the-rotation guy.
Alfredo Aceves may not be the second coming of Ramiro Mendoza, but he's been doing a decent imitation. So what if his idol is Dennis Rodman, the mascara-wearing cross-dresser? As long as he leaves the eye makeup at home and gets people out, he's OK by me.
Jeter has excelled in the leadoff spot, and credit goes to Girardi for flipping him with Damon in the lineup.
Posada came off the DL tonight and promptly went 2-for-3. And Mo? He notched his 58th save for Pettitte, surpassing the duo of Welch and Eckersley. I've said it before and I'll say it again: he's a god among men.
Sure, there are big problems with our bullpen and the issue of RISP must be addressed. Still, the 2006 team was stuck with Giambi at first instead of Tex, Wil Nieves as a backup catcher instead of Cervelli/Molina/Cash, and Randy Johnson and Jaret Wright on the mound instead of CC and AJ. This year's herd is looking better and better.
One final note: the bugs. They were back in Cleveland. No, not in plague-and-pestilence-size quantities; just in little clusters here and there. But what's up with them? For all I know, they'll spend the rest of tonight mating, and by tomorrow night Progressive Field will look like this. Please, no.