Every year, there are certain moments in the season that remind us just why baseball is the greatest game on Earth, and this year is no different. Sure, lots of us take this silly game far too seriously, but that’s only because we love it so much. We’re lucky to be fans of the greatest franchise in sports history, as the Yankees give us more great memories than we can handle at times.
With the second half set to begin tomorrow, I figured now was the best time to see what everyone’s favorite moment of the first half was. Here’s a few of the highlights:
May 8th: Alex Rodriguez homers on the first pitch after coming off the DL (video)
After a winter of self-inflicted controversy and a spring of injury, Alex Rodriguez returned to the Yankees lineup in Baltimore and promptly stepped to the plate with runners on first and second and only one out. In a scene straight out of a novel, A-Rod took Jeremy Guthrie’s first pitch and deposited it into the left field stands, reminding everyone in baseball what he’s capable of. They were the only runs the team would need that day, as they skated to a 4-0 win.
May 15th: Brett Gardner’s inside-the-park homer (video)
After visiting a children’s hospital earlier in the day and receiving a bracelet from a young girl who told him he would hit a home run if he kept it, Brett Gardner stepped to the plate in the 7th with the Yankees trailing the Twins 4-1. He’d entered the game in the 4th inning after Johnny Damon was thrown out for arguing balls and strikes, and blooped Jesse Crain’s 0-2 pitch into shallow left field. The ball squibbed past Denard Span and rolled all the way into the corner as Gardner raced around the bases for the Yankees first inside-the-park homer since Ricky Ledee did the honors back in 1999. The homer helped propel the Yankees to a 5-4 walk-off win.
June 1st: Joba Chamberlain’s belly flop double play in Cleveland (video)
After allowing the first two runners to reach base via a walk and single, Joba Chamberlain faced Indians’ catcher Kelly Shoppach with no outs in the 5th inning of a 1-1 game. Joba’s first two pitches were outside, and Shoppach squared around to bunt the runners into scoring position. He made contact on the third pitch but bunted it straight up and toward third base. Joba hustled off the mound and laid out almost in slow motion to make the catch, then jumped to his feet and fired the ball to second base to double off the runner there. The Indians wouldn’t score in the inning, and the Yankees walked away with a 5-2 win in one of Joba’s best starts of the season.
June 12th: Yankees walk off with a win when Luis Castillo drops the ball (video)
Having lost their last three games, the Yankees came into the bottom of the ninth against the Mets down a run in a see-saw, back-and-forth affair. The Mets brought in their shiny new closer to lock it down, and K-Rod retired Brett Gardner before allowing a single to Derek Jeter. Jeter stole second when Johnny Damon struck out, and the Mets opted to walk the molten-hot Mark Teixeira and face A-Rod. After working himself into a hitter-friendly 3-1 count, A-Rod popped K-Rod’s 28th pitch of the night up toward shallow right for an easy out. Except the out was never made because Castillo dropped the ball. Teixeira crossed home because he hustled around the bases, and the Yanks walked away winners in the most improbable fashion.
June 28th: Mariano Rivera walks with the bases loaded for his first career RBI (video)
With his team up by one and rallying for more in the top of the ninth, Mariano Rivera came to the plate for just the third time in the regular season in his career. The bases were loaded with two outs, but K-Rod’s first two pitches were outside. The next two were over the plate and Mo spoiled a third before taking the sixth pitch high for a full count. K-Rod’s 31st pitch of the night was again high, and Mariano took first base on a walk, picking up his first career RBI in the process. It’s almost an afterthought that he stuck around to pick up his 500th career save in the bottom half of the inning.
Those are just some of the highlights of the first half. Vote on your favorite below, but if you think another moment was the best of the first half – maybe Nick Swisher’s relief apperance, or AJ Burnett’s Immaculate Inning, or one of Melky Cabrera’s various walk-off hits – use the “Add an Answer” button to write in your own favorite moment.