Spring-training games don't mean much, many opine, unless something occurs that has an impact on the regular season. Last Tuesday in Blacksburg, VA, baseball's most storied team shattered that theory.
The New York Yankees, fulfilling a promise owner George Steinbrenner made a year ago in the aftermath of the mass-murder tragedy at Virginia Tech University, came to the school to honor the victims and play a game against the Hokies.
With top stars like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez in the house, this was much more than a photo-op for the franchise and a still-reeling school. In a time when clubs routinely field what are essentially minor-league teams for exhibition tilts, the Yankees treated this with the utmost respect, right down to the maroon and orange caps they wore during pre-game events.
"This is probably the proudest day I've ever [had] to wear a Yankee uniform," said Rodriguez.
Indeed, the Yankees have much to be proud about: a $1 million donation last May to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund and even the club's 11-0, seven-inning victory at Tech. But the most pride came from the intangibles.
"If it just makes people smile or enjoy themselves for the three hours that we're here, it's all worthwhile," added Jeter.
Imagine that. A game played to actually make a community feel better, and pro athletes who truly realize the importance of that. The Yankees have won 26 World Series, but it's unlikely any of those teams stood taller than this one did.
PR play rating:
3. On the right track