April 13, 2010
A lot of emailers had it wrong this morning: I can just as easily praise the Yankees when they do something great as I can have some tongue-in-cheek fun with them when they don't.
Now a DH for the Angels, Matsui was introduced after all of his former teammates received their rings.
And while that might have seemed a rude way to treat a new guest who just happens to be the reigning World Series MVP, it actually built the anticipation for one of opening day's most memorable moments.
When Matsui was finally announced, the Yankee Stadium crowd let out its loudest roar — even louder than the one for Derek Jeter — and he was immediately mobbed by his old buddies, pinstripes surrounding his new red Angels uniform.
Kim Jones of the YES Network reports that Jeter pulled one last prank during the presentation, putting a tin ring inside Matsui's box before giving the real thing during a later player introduction. (Matsui took the joke well and was clearly laughing when Jeter gave himself up. Nick Swisher(notes) was also the victim of a similar joke that was pulled by Mariano Rivera(notes).)
"We knew [Matsui] wouldn't be able to compare it to anyone's on the other side, so we gave him the bootleg one," a grinning Jeter told Jones after the Yankees' 7-5 win. "Knowing him, he was probably happy to receive that one, too."
Though the Yankees decided they could live life without Matsui — a belief that was strangely underscored when his replacement Nick Johnson(notes) hit a homer in the bottom of the first and Matsui went 0-for-5 — the group hug by appreciative teammates was a very nice and a very appropriate moment for a classy player who called New York home for seven seasons.
By the way, here's a few views of the ring that each Yankee received for winning the team's 27th title. Each player's name appears where "Steinbrenner" is located on the right photo.
(At least I hope it does.)
And here's Matsui with the real thing.
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