It's going to take a few days for it to hit me, but the final game* at Yankee Stadium was played tonight against the Baltimore Orioles. Though the O's got on the board first, the Yankees benefited from a 3-run homer by Johnny Damon to go ahead, followed the next inning by a 2-run homer from Jose Molina (incidentally, the last home run ever* at Yankee Stadium - third time this season is a charm, Jose). Final score - 7 to 3, Yankees.
Joe Girardi fittingly had Andy Pettite start the game, but graciously gave several players the opportunity to relieve him (he got the win), in order that they might be able to say they played in the final game* as well. Thus, Jose Veras, Phil Coke AND Joba Chamberlain all got the opportunity to hit the mound before the Sandman himself, Mariano Rivera, became the last pitcher* at Yankee Stadium.
Maybe it was my imagination, but the Sandman seemed genuinely moved while at the mound - as well he should be. I was moved just watching him - despite uncharacteristically failing to strike out any batter he faced, he is, according to Reggie Jackson himself during the game, one of the 5 greatest Yankees (feel free to argue with Reggie... but Rivera definitely belongs up there somewhere).
Though going 0-5 (bear in mind he was hit in the hand yesterday), captain Derek Jeter was still the man of the hour, and was given a final curtain call, as well as the microphone, to address "the greatest fans" in baseball. Before the game, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and Don Larsen all took to the field for pre-game festivities. Yogi Berra's commentary throughout the game, as well as his poignant pre-recorded send-off to Yankee Stadium, were exceptionally apropos on a day of pinstriped memories.
Now to explain the * throughout - the Yankees are not yet mathematically eliminated, though they're hanging on by the skin of their teeth. If Boston wins one of their next four games in Cleveland, or New York loses one of their next three, it's over for the Bombers going into their 3-game series against the Red Sox. On the other hand, in the unlikely scenario of Boston losing 4 straight, and the Yankees sweeping Toronto, the Yankees could force an AL Wild Card tie-breaker by sweeping Boston in their subsequent series at Fenway.
A boy can dream, right? Boo Boston, boo Toronto, go Tribe, but most importantly - GO YANKEES!
It can be done...