The Yankees are playing in a game today that can produce the unlikeliest of heroes. We’ll take the opposite, though to predict the likeliest…
On October 16, 2003, Yankees manager Aaron Boone emerged as the unlikeliest hero of Game 7 of the ALCS against Boston when he came to bat in the bottom of the 11th inning.
Boone, who had entered earlier as a pinch-runner, smacked Tim Wakefield‘s first pitch of the inning for a walk-off home run into the left-field seats.
While the win sent the Yankees to the World Series where the (then) Florida Marlins put an end to the magic, Aaron Boone will forever be etched in Yankees’ lore with one swing of his bat.
Playing on a team that dwarfed him were stars like Bernie Williams, Roger Clemens, Hideki Matsui, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter – making Aaron Boone the unlikeliest of Yankees heroes.
Who will it be today when the Yankees take the field this afternoon in a last-gasp attempt to play this Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game?
Of course, if the Yankees lose, we could be talking about a goat instead of a hero tomorrow, but let’s not go there, assuming the team will bounce back today.
Who Are The Yankees Pegged For Destiny
First off, unless Jameson Taillon pitches into the seventh inning, today’s hero will not be a pitcher.
Instead, it will be a player who traces Boone’s legendary blast with a single and decisive play. It can be a diving catch in the outfield to save the winning run, a bloop single with seeing eyes that lands between fielders to drive home the winning run, or a walk that keeps a rally going on a ten-pitch at-bat.
At first glance, the most apparent Yankees players to win the day are Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. But if history holds, neither will make the grade but only because they are the obvious choices.
Instead, I look to someone like Gio Urshela or Gleyber Torres to come up with the clutch at-bat to seal the game with a win.
Both have been swinging the bat well of late, especially Urshela, who has gathered attention over his last 12 games, batting .364 with a .923 OPS.
Torres, save for his no-hustle gaffe yesterday for not running hard to first base, has also hit the mark with a .311 BA, 2 HR, 6 RBI, and a .901 OPS over his last 12 games.
Both players have the confidence of Aaron Boone, and in return, we can see their current self-confidence by their body language in the box.
Anthony Rizzo gets an honorable mention, and that shot he hit yesterday well into the second deck at Yankee Stadium could be repeated today.
DJ LeMahieu, a professional hitter, would be a candidate because he is dealing with a sports hernia that will require surgery after the season. If he plays at all today, it will be under duress and with pain.
Of all the Yankees players, it will be most ironic if Gary Sanchez comes through with a big hit, but I’d be the last person to put money on that happening. The start today should go to Kyle Higashioka, who himself has displayed a knack for coming through with clutch at-bats.
Of all the Yankees profiled, however, if I had to pick one to shine, it is Gio Urshela, especially if Aaron Boone plays him again at his usual third base position while opting for Andrew Velazquez at shortstop like yesterday.
The lights will be on at Yankees Stadium for this overcast afternoon game, but a spotlight only on a TV set will shine on the Yankees player who is named the Star of the Game.
I put my pick out there – what say you?
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Hubie Mercaco Comes down to the stroke of midnight. The carriage will turn back to a pumpkin and the glass slipper will probably break. The story of this season of the Yankees.
John Perez If they win I’ll say Brett Gardner
Kenneth Finerty ODOR