Sunday, July 28, 2013

Everything Old is New Again

Seeing Alfonso Soriano in Pinstripes on Friday night brought a smile to my face.  Once upon a lifetime ago "Fonzie" was the young up-and-coming Yankees star.  He was Robinson Cano before the Yankees had Robinson Cano.  On the heels of a disastrous 2003 postseason, in which he struggled mightily (other than a sensational ALDS against the Twins in which he batted .368 and which he followed up with a .111 average in the 7-game ALCS victory over the Red Sox and a .227 average in the 6-game World Series loss to the Marlins), he was gone.  After the MLBPA objected to the Texas Rangers trading Alex Rodriguez to the Red Sox for Manny Ramirez (if memory serves correctly because A-Rod was willing to give up a significant amount of the $ then due and owing to him), the Yankees swooped in to play the role of the Rangers' trading partner.  Soriano headed to Texas.  A-Rod came to the Bronx.

In the decade since Soriano and A-Rod did their "two ships" impersonation, A-Rod and the Yankees have reached the World Series once and won.  The A-Rod-less Rangers have reached it twice and lost.  Soriano has made the postseason on only two occasions since leaving the Yankees.  Neither time resulted in a trip to the World Series.  As difficult as it may be to recall - especially if you are a fan of the Chicago Cubs - the Cubbies actually made the playoffs back-to-back in 2007 and 2008.  They lost in the NLDS both times.

When I saw Soriano step into the batter's box for the first time on Friday night, I was surprised to hear Michael Kay comment on the fact that he shall be 38 years old in January.  To my admittedly untrained eye, Soriano appears to have aged eleven minutes in ten years.  The Yankees did not win in his debut, which result had far more to the with the fact that C.C. Sabathia yet again pitched more like Kei Igawa in a fat suit than himself than it did with the fact that Soriano took an "0 for". 

My most vivid recollection of Soriano as a Yankee is one that for many people may be lost to the dual infirmities of time and circumstances.  Leading off in the top of the 8th inning of Game Seven of the 2001 World Series, Soriano gave the Yankees the lead - in what just might have been the best ever World Series game pitched by dual and dueling asshats (Curt Schilling for the D'Backs and Roger Clemens for the Yankees) - by hitting an 0-2 pitch off of Schilling for a home run.  A home run that could have, would have and (given all that New York City had endured less than sixty days earlier) should have won the Yankees the World Series.  It did not of course

Barring an utterly miraculous final sixty games or so, Soriano's Bronx Revival shall not culminate in a trip to the postseason.  Next year perhaps.  Regardless of the way in which this year plays out for him and for the Yankees it is nice to see him back in a place where I for one wish he had never left, waving that enormous, oversized bat and smiling that same crooked, almost-omnipresent smile. 


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