I don’t know if you heard, but Gerrit Cole is a Yankee. I KNOW. Based on his dominance as an Astro and the absolute unit of a roster around him, Cole will likely be integral to some great moments in the next decade of Yankee baseball.
But for now, we’re celebrating the 2010s. Let’s do it.
CC Sabathia carries the Yankees to the 2012 ALCS
The 2012 Yankees were on fumes, the dying embers of the Jeter dynasty. But their warhorse, the future Hall of Famer, carried them past an upstart Orioles team essentially on his own. Sabathia had already earned his Yankee stripes by then, but this moment helped cement him as a truly memorable pitcher in the Bronx. In 2012, Sabathia was still an ace, still one of the best pitchers in the world, and he did what aces do. Through quite a bit of gut and guile, the Big Man willed the Yankees on with a complete game, 4-hit and 1-run performance.
Always felt safe with the Big Man on the mound.
Raul Ibanez’s clutch blasts in the 2012 ALDS
Yeah, the 2012 Yankees were just … odd. It was clear the Jeter-era run was nearing its end, but damn if they didn’t fight to the very end. Against an annoying Orioles team, it fell to Raul freaking Ibanez to carry the day. Not one, but two Ibanez blasts lifted the Bombers to a Game 3 win. They were epic. It was thrilling, man.
Seriously, the 2012 playoffs were an emotional and not all that pleasant experience.
Brett Gardner’s epic at-bat dispatches the Indians in the 2017 ALDS
Brett Gardner’s value has always been a bit hard to quantify. Yes, as a strong defender and better-than-you-think on-base guy, Gardner has been more than the plucky white dude he’s sometimes portrayed as during national broadcasts. Gardner was a genuine star at points.
By 2017, he’d held firm, if not quite to his peak in the early 2010s. Still, and if this is just romanticism, so be it, no one else on that 2017 team was equipped to have this kind of at-bat. Gardner’s ability to foul off pitch after pitch in the tightest moment of the season fueled the Baby Bomber’s belief they could win it all. If not for some trash cans and a camera, who knows how the season ends.
Nursing a one-run lead in an elimination Game 5 in Cleveland, Gardner wore out Cody Allen fouling off five straight pitches at one point before singling to right field. With that, two runs scored and the game was firmly in hand.
Aaron Judge’s debut comes with a bang
We all knew the moment he took that big swing.
Judge was a non-typical prospect. He broke into the majors fairly old — 2017 was his age-25 season — and had struggled at each new level of competition. Who knew what this dude was gonna be? He’s freaking massive. How many Hulk-sized baseball players do you know of?
Well, all those concerns seem silly now. Judge is an offensive force, limited only by injuries that limit his onslaught. Judge is the cornerstone of this era of Yankee baseball, and what a titan he can be. Beyond just the power, Judge’s patience and underrated defensive acumen have made him a superstar.
His first career homer came in his first career plate appearance on a hot August day in 2016. It was the day after the Yankees said farewell to Alex Rodriguez, which looking back, seems fitting.
The Yankees storm back to stun the Red Sox at Fenway
Anyone else up for reliving the Freddy Garcia era??? What? No takers? (He was good in 2011, terrible in 2012.)
I could spoil the story for you if you don’t remember. But I won’t. Watch the video. Then smile and feel all warm that the Yanks added a dynamite ace this winter and the Red Sox are thinking about trading the second-best player alive so they can afford the expensive declines of Chris Sale and David Price. Love ya, John Henry!
Didi Gregorius answers back in the 2017 AL Wild Card Game
Death. Taxes. The Yankees blasting the Minnesota Twins out of the playoffs. Some things are just set in nature. Who are we to question it?
I kid. Some day, the Twins might just draw blood on the Bombers, but not if Sir Didi had anything to say about it. After Luis Severino struggled in the first inning, surrendering three runs to a feisty Twins team, Didi shut all that noise down with one swing. Listen to that crowd.
Derek Jeter’s walkoff in his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium
You couldn’t have scripted a more perfect ending to Derek Jeter’s career. In his last game at Yankee Stadium, Jeter came up to bat in the bottom of the 9th with the game tied at 5 and a runner on second. In true Jeter fashion, he slapped an opposite-field single, scoring the runner and giving the Yankees the 6-5 win. Yankee fans will never forgot that moment: a Hollywood ending to a legendary career.
Alex Rodriguez notches career hit 3,000
Alex Rodriguez was never going to have the storybook moment his teammate at shortstop got, but alas. A-Rod’s 2010s have been utterly fascinating. He’s gone from epic pariah across the sport to somewhat … liked … now? (I personally think he’s a rough color commentator, but as a studio analyst, sure!)
What a weird decade. I’m sure A-Rod feels it more than any of us. He was the Chosen One, then became the villain, then redeemed himself (2009), then became a villain again, and now is back in the light. Weird. Just weird.
The Captain delivers hit 3,000 in dramatic style
3,000 for the Captain. Just listen to the crowd willing him to the hit. Absorb the roar when he delivers.
Dramatic moments seemed to just find him throughout his career. Yes, we can quibble at his defense and sure, it’s become fashionable to trash him as he runs the Miami Marlins, but let’s not forget that Derek freaking Jeter was a tremendous hitter. Few shortshops have produced more at the plate than the kid who wore #2.
There’s only one Derek Jeter.
Mariano Rivera had planned on retiring in 2012. But a fluke injury before a game in Kansas City delayed those plans. He came back in 2013, dominated as usual, and then, just as it should have been, his old pals Derek and Andy came out to say goodbye.
The greatest closer of all-time exiting the stage.
My favorite player, as excellent as ever, leaving as gracefully as anyone ever has. Mariano forever.