Tampa, Fla., March 10 — It’s our last day here, and my reverie unavoidably latched onto the week that has been, and to the tasks that await me up north. Perhaps my mind drifted that way due to the display of emotion I was witnessing in center field before the Yankees/Red Sox tilt, as warming-up Red Sox players like ex-Yankees Michael Coleman and Rey Sanchez, along with Manny Ramirez, shook hands and even embraced with Yanks Ruben Rivera, Erick Almonte, Juan Rivera and (eventually) Derek Jeter. (Nomar, to his credit, had cut his stretches short and was signing autographs.) Then the mood was broken by a unique sight as the ageless Rickey Henderson showed off his new warmup routine, pogo-sticking his way across the outfield as he would lift his right knee very high and sort of hop, dragging along his left. Both el duque and John Cleese would have been jealous.
Seeing the controversial and crafty Rickey made me think how much the pleasure of being a Yankee fan derives not only from four crowns in six years, but on our long history, particularly as evidenced by so many beloved stars here as guest instructors and coaches. The pictured Donnie Baseball and Graig Nettles (#45) were at the pregame practice with Ron Guidry. And we get to see Mel and the ex-”Captain” Willie Randolph day after day. But not today, as Lee Mazzilli slid over and coached third (Willie was with the split squad in Fort Myers), leaving the first base coaching duties to…Mickey Rivers. Reggie and Goose, Yogi and Boyer, and even Whitey in former years. We truly are the luckiest and happiest spectator sports fans on the planet!
The game? Well, another loss, and I’m thinking Joe would ask me to leave if it was wins he was here to get. Bernie was to be the starting center fielder up to the last minute, but was scratched. I hear it was his thigh and hope it’s not a reason for concern. Marcus Thames continues to impress (me, anyway), and most of the bruises and twinges are healing (except Rondell, whom I now read may be ready for Opening Day. May? Wow.)
Tomorrow’s a night game in Legends vs. the Phillies, but our next game is April 5.