Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rant #337: The Boss Is Finally Put To Rest

Last night was a weird night at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-6, to take a 1 1/2 game lead on them in the American League East. Both teams are going to the playoffs, but who will win the division is still in question, so these are big games.

But what happened prior to the game was something to remember, and remember forever.

The monument to George Steinbrenner was unveiled to the public in a glorious ceremony that featured the Steinbrenner family, former players, Yankee executives, the Yankee players themselves, and others.

It was a very heartwarming tribute. The family and the others marched to Monument Park and unveiled an incredible monument that dwarfed the others there in size and magnitude.

It listed all the accomplishments that Steinbrenner had made in his 37 years of owning the team.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

The Boss's oldest son, Hank, looks just like his father, so seeing him walk with the rest of the family to this new monument was eerie. You would swear that the elder Steinbrenner was actually in the procession, not his son.

There was Joe Torre, Steinbrenner's whipping boy but incredibly successful Yankee manager, walking in the procession. Torre and the Yankees had had a bad fallout during the past few years, but all was forgiven. Torre was as choked up as he was when he won all those World Series with the team.

Don Mattingly was there, as was Tino Martinez, Roy White, Lee Mazzilli, David Wells, Reggie Jackson, and, of course, Yogi Berra, so it was like a mini-Oldtimers Day.

Then there was the Yankee players paying their homage to their employer. They looked touched by their own presence in Monument Park looking at this new monument. They all left, except for one single, solitary player, and it was not team captain Derek Jeter. It was Mariano Rivera, who stayed around at least five minutes past everyone else. Rivera is known to be a religious man, and he is the only one who knows what he was thinking, but I am sure they were good thoughts.

Then the procession moved on, and it was almost time to play baseball.

The National Anthem was to come next, but here was the surprise of the evening.

As anyone who has come to a Yankees game during the past 20 years or so knows, when they win, they play Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" after the game. They used to play Liza Minnelli's better, original version if they lost, but they don't do that anymore.

Anyway, who should stride to the microphone but the Chairman of the Board himself ... no, that wasn't him, it was Frank Sinatra Jr.!

Again, like Hank Steinbrenner, Junior looks just like his dad. More to the point, he sings just like his dad!

(Personally, I would have preferred Nancy Sinatra, or maybe even Tina, but this was the surprise of the evening as far as I was concerned.)

Anyway, Frank Jr. did a great job with the anthem, and was led off the field.

And how appropriate this all was. You had the faux George, in the guise of Hank Steinbrenner as part of the family procession. You had the faux Sinatra, in the guise of Frank Jr., sing the National Anthem. And all of this was taking place in the faux Yankee Stadium!

That aside, two teams battled for the next 3 1/2 hours or so, and the Yankees won.

What a night! I am glad I recorded it.

And here's to George Steinbrenner. He was truly a one of a kind person. Maybe not the nicest guy around, but there will never be another George.

He was a true champion.

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