Jason Giambi certainly earned his gigantic paycheck on Thursday. Entering the game in the seventh inning as a pinch hitter, he drove an 0-1 pitch over the fence to tie the final New York-Boston regular-season game in Yankee Stadium history at 2-2. Two innings later, Giambi was at the dish again, this time with the sacks packed and facing Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Down 0-2, Giambi stroked a game-winning single to center, sending the Yankee faithful home happy.
Now, even those heroics still leave New York six games behind Boston in the American League wild card race, with Minnesota wedged in, trailing the Sox by 2.5 games. It would take something close to a 2007-Rockies type of streak for the Bombers to reach the playoffs in their final season in The House That Ruth Built. And while there will be few outside the Bronx disappointed to see the latest Yankees dynasty officially die, it is a momentous ocassion.
Say what you will about George Steinbrenner and the team's $200 million payroll, but King George never settled for anything less than a championship. Unlike many owners who are content to pocket hefty profits while their teams wallow in mediocrity, Steinbrenner willingly opened up his admittedly-huge pocketbook when the time came to assemble a wrecking crew of a team. Sometimes he got exactly what he paid for, sometimes not, but he always gave it his utmost. There's no questioning that.